Full Count, Week 14: Three numbers as regular season ends, Two thoughts on the season

Photo by Kelly Donoho courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Photo by Kelly Donoho courtesy of Mississippi State Athletics

Three Numbers at Regular Season’s End

Shoot to kill

We’ve discussed Jake Mangum’s incredible ability to string hits together on Dogpile throughout the season, and in case you want to know how it ended, he now has 28 multi-hit games compared to seven hitless games. Another way of putting that: any time you go to a Mississippi State game, you are four times as likely to see Mangum get multiple hits as you are to see him go hitless.

What’s especially wild about it is he is far from alone on this year’s team. Justin Foscue has 26 multi-hit games (46.4 percent of his games); Tanner Allen ended the season with 22, including all of his last three, four of his last five and five of his last eight; Jordan Westburg has 21, and 11 of them came against conference foes; Elijah MacNamee has 17 despite dealing with the foot injury for half of the season, which is impressive when you consider Dustin Skelton raked all season long and he only has 10.

Finally, wrap your head around this: Marshall Gilbert has 10 multi-hit games and just 24 starts.

This is a game that values consistency when consistency is borderline impossible, and for the most part I fall into that camp. But there is something to be said about this ability this lineup seems to have: they generate hits in bunches, and in the end that’s often what you need to score. Having nine hits in a game sounds great, but if you spread them through all nine innings you’re probably not going to have more than two or three runs at the end; pile them up on one another and you can finish with six or seven, and clearly that’s been happening a lot for these Bulldogs.

Team slugging update

You may remember from the Full Count after the Georgia series that this team was poised to do some really impressive things in terms of team slugging, putting itself in the elite class of Mississippi State baseball history. How about we check up on all of those chases now that the regular season is over?

 - Doubles. The record is 157 by the 1989 team, doing so on 2.3 doubles per game. This year’s Bulldogs end the regular season at 141, 2.5 per game. Since they’re guaranteed four more games (two in Hoover, two in regional), their season average suggests they’ll get up to 150-151 just off of that. What I’m trying to say is, if this team hits like itself and even threatens to win either the SEC Tournament or the Starkville Regional, much less both, they’ll break the school record for doubles in a season.

 - Runs/runs per game. The records are 633 in 1997 and 9.5 in 1999; 474 and 8.4, and being about a run per game off the school record is consistent with what they were back in April. 8.4 would tie for fifth in school history with the 1988 and 2000 teams, if it were to stay that way.

(At the time it was a similar chase for RBI and nothing has changed. The Bulldogs have held steady at the 7.6 RBI per game that they were at in April, so if they play the 68 games they played last year, they could be one of just four MSU teams to have more than 500 in a season.)

 - Home runs was a stretch at the time, and it still is. Hitting 1.07 per game, it would have to make a deep Omaha run just to reach 75, which is two short of fifth in school history (77, 1981).

 - Win total: The top class in MSU baseball is 54 (1989), 51 (2013), 50 (1985, 1990), 47 (1997) and 46 (1981). With one win in the SEC Tournament and a clean Starkville Regional win, the 2019 Bulldogs would already have 49, good enough for fourth; a Super Regional win would put it tied for second.

How hot was Tanner Allen?

Y’all know the old-school late night talk show bit where someone like David Letterman says, “Man, it’s really hot today,” and the crowd says, “How hot is it?!?” and it launches him to a few jokes? Let’s do that bit with Tanner Allen’s weekend, shall we?

How hot was he?

 - He was so hot (12-for-15, .800) that if he did it over the course of the 224 at-bats he got this season, he would have 179 hits in 56 games; the NCAA record for hits in a season is 142 set in 85 games.

 - He slugged 1.133 over the weekend. Brent Rooker slugged .810 in his Triple Crown season.

 - He had a .316 batting average in 209 at-bats, yet jumped his average an astounding 32 points in just 15 at-bats.

Two Thoughts on the Entire Season

Pitching showed up

In scrolling through old Full Counts for that note above about team slugging, I got all the way down to the first one, before this enterprise was even called Full Count. It was a quick post about what we know and what we don’t know after two weeks of baseball: one thing we knew was that the bullpen had options, but what we didn’t know was if those options would show up in SEC play.

My basic point was there was only one proven commodity from the previous season in the bullpen, and that was Riley Self. It would be a lot of new guys in the fold, and man, did they deliver.

Jared Liebelt nearly has as many saves (five) as he does walks allowed (seven) in 43.2 innings. Brandon Smith, Jack Eagan and Colby White are all impressive in their own ways: Smith with four walks in 31.2 innings, Eagan with a .159 batting average allowed and White with a WHIP of 0.926.

Previous unknowns are a big part of a bullpen that has what it takes to pitch in Omaha. That’s no small development.

The unsung heroes: the assistants

Chris Lemonis is the one with his name on the title of winningest first-year coach in SEC baseball history and Lemonis is often the one credited with having guys ready to play into the lineup and perform at a moment’s notice — and don’t get me wrong, he deserves credit — but he’s not alone here.

All those first-year pitchers I just mentioned? Think back to all the pitchers that have struggled in their first exposure to the SEC, you’ve probably seen dozens in your time following MSU baseball. Scott Foxhall quickly found a plan for those guys and helped them execute it.

Talk to any hitter about their season, and almost all of them will mention a time when Jake Gautreau helped them make an adjustment that changed their season. Marshall Gilbert and Josh Hatcher are the two most recent examples — you know, the guys hitting like crazy at the bottom of the order right now.

Catcher hasn’t been a two-way position of surplus for MSU in either of the past two seasons, and Kyle Cheesebrough has changed that more or less immediately.

You often see head football coaches be made or broken by their assistant coach hires. Lemonis’ first year at MSU has been made by his assistant coach hires.