Three Interesting Stats
Feast or famine Allen
Isn’t it kind of wild that the guy hitting .302 — on a team with guys hitting .394, .345, .340 and .314 — entered the weekend tied for the team lead in 3-hit games, and then had one more this weekend?
That’s been the story of 2019 for Tanner Allen. When he hits, he hits in bunches for 9-inning spurts, but for some reason he hasn’t been stringing hits together game after game after game. His longest hitting streak of the year is seven games; now compare that to the season-long hitting streaks of Jake Mangum (20), Dustin Skelton (13), Elijah MacNamee (12) and Justin Foscue (10).
Those six games with 3+ hits account for 19 of Allen’s 54 hits, thus 35.1 percent of his hits coming in 13.3 percent of his games. Let’s compare that to Westburg, who has a similar profile to Allen — no double-digit game hitting streak and five games of three hits or more — but even he only has 26.6 percent of his hits concentrated in 11.3 percent of his games. The same can be said for Foscue, who similarly to Allen has 34.3 percent of his concentrated in seven 3+ hit games, but he has so many that those hits are spread over 15.5 percent of his games.
Here’s another way to put it: Allen has 16 multi-hit games and 14 hitless games, leaving him with just 15 games with a single hit. Compare that with Skelton (21 one-hit games) and Rowdey Jordan (18 one-hit games) to see that oddity.
I find this fun because this is not who Allen was last season — in late April and early May last year he went on an 11-game hit streak, had a hitless game and then hit in six straight games — but he’s just as productive. Hitting is all about bringing in runs, and Allen’s doing it this way: in 68 games last year he had 45 RBI and scored 42 runs; this year in 45 games, he’s got 44 RBI and scored 42 runs.
Plus, there’s a pretty high correlation between Allen multi-hit games and wins: the Bulldogs are 14-2 when he gets two or more hits. I say let Allen feast and let him famine, knowing the famines are short-lived and the feasts are a spectacle to behold.
Dustin Skelton, Big Game Hunter
Did you know that Dustin Skelton has had a 3 RBI to 1 hit ratio in three games this year? He did it for the third time in the Friday night game against Georgia: one hit for three RBI.
It’s pretty clearly a factor of batting seventh with OBPs of .444, .443, .397, .429, .391 and .372 ahead of him, but he’s been prone to one swing of the bat changing the game this year, and he has a habit of delivering: the man’s hitting .467 with runners in scoring position.
Hello, Luke Hancock
I found myself thinking a few weeks ago that Mississippi State could have the deepest hitting bench in college baseball, when the merry-go-round of Josh Hatcher, Brad Cumbest and Marshall Gilbert was holding it down.
Now it’s added Luke Hancock as a legitimate threat, and friends, I have no idea what to do with this information.
Hancock now has two hits in his last six at-bats and has drawn a walk in all three of his SEC starts. Cumbest and Hatcher remain useful pieces to play in that rotation, and we have yet to mention Landon Jordan and Hayden Jones.
I asked Chris Lemonis about Hancock at one point this weekend and he said Hancock’s been doing well in practice and earned some game ABs, and that can’t be more clear: of his 20 at-bats this year, 10 have come since April 16. Lemonis also said they like to use matchups whenever possible — handedness, approach, strengths and weaknesses of pitcher and hitter among those factors — and frankly it’s hard to imagine a matchup MSU doesn’t have an answer for at this point.
Two Things to Watch Post-Mangum Record Chase
Konnor Pilkington was Mississippi State’s ace for two seasons, one of them making a Super Regional and another making the College World Series. He used ending his final two seasons with 111 and 107 strikeouts to finish top 10 on the MSU career list in career strikeouts.
Ethan Small bumped his 2018 season total to 114 in his Friday start and win, moving him from 17th on MSU’s single-season list to 10th.
Climbing up the ladder is a given: he’s one behind a tie for ninth (Jeff Brantley 1984 and Dakota Hudson 2016), seven behind eighth (Hank Thomas 1999), eight behind his own 2018 season and 13 behind sixth (Chris Stratton, 2012).
He’s going to be moving up on the MSU career strikeouts list, too. His most recent outing gives him 256; he could be as high as seventh as his next start with Pilkington in 10th (260), Carlton Loewer in ninth (261), Don Robinson in eighth (262) and Mike Proffitt in seventh (265). The top two of Eric DuBose (428) and Jeff Brantley (364) seem out of reach, but Chris Stratton in 3rd (279) is in reach.
When you look up before May 1 and realize Allen is slugging 40 points better than he did last year, Skelton 220 points better and Westburg nearly 200 points better — all while Mangum is threatening to set a career high in doubles — you probably think this team has a shot at rewriting the team record books. You would be right.
Here’s a list of team records this offense could threaten:
- Doubles. The record, 157 by the 1989 team, they averaged 2.3 doubles per game; this team is averaging 2.46. The 1989 team did play 68 games, meaning this year’s squad would have to hit like this through a Super Regional, but 142 doubles is good enough to crack the top 5 in school history. Only two teams have hit 150, 1989 and 1999 (156).
- Runs/runs per game. The records are 633 set by the 1997 team and 9.5 set by the 1999 team; this year, they’re averaging 8.5 per game. If it ended at 8.5 it would be good enough for fifth in school history in runs per game, since only four teams have finished north of 9 (1999, 1997, 1989 and 1983). Holding this 8.5 runs per game pace of the 68 games last year’s team played would ended it at 582, good for fourth in school history. Only two Bulldog teams have cracked 600 runs: 1997 and 1989.
(It’s a somewhat similar chase in team RBI: at 7.6 RBI per game, if done over the 68 games last year’s team played, it would be one of just four Bulldog teams to end a season with more than 500.)
- Home runs, admittedly, is going to be a stretch. With 50 in 45 games (1.1 per game), it would have to play 68 games at this pace just to get to 75, which is still two short of the fifth-place 1981 team that hit 77.
- And for those interested in sheer win total, here’s the record book listing for that: 54 (1989), 51 (2013), 50 (1985, 1990), 47 (1997) and 46 (1981). This year’s Bulldogs are 36-9.