Posted: 10:29 a.m. Thursday, June 6, 2013
The Bulldogs offense revolves around one player, junior RF Hunter Renfroe. By the time the Hoos and Bulldogs are playing, Renfroe will likely be the richest person in the stadium, as he is expected to go in the first half of the first round of this week’s MLB entry draft. While he probably won’t have signed yet (and may not end up signing, since he has a year of eligibility remaining), he is likely to end up getting about 2 million dollars based on the MLB slotting system.
Renfroe led the Bulldogs in batting average, HRs, RBI, slugging percentage, and steals. He was 2nd in hits, on base percentage, runs, doubles, and triples. His 15 HRs are more than half of the team’s 28 on the season. His 58 RBI also lead the team by nearly 50%.
The Bulldogs offense as a whole was solid this year, ranking 36th in the nation in runs. However, they got there by being largely a station-to-station offense. The Bulldogs rank 43rd in batting average and 36th in OBP, but just 188th in doubles per game, 164th in triples per game and 106th in HRs per game. They were also just 192nd in stolen bases per game. As a comparison, the Hoos rank 3rd in runs, 10th in BA, 7th in OBP, 11th in doubles per game, 4th in triples per game, and 39th in HRs per game.
Take Renfroe away and those numbers would look a whole lot worse than they do. After Renfroe’s 15 HRs, the next best is 1B Wes Rae with 6. Rae is also second on the team in RBI. He’s also first in Ks (Renfroe is tied for 2nd.) Both Renfroe and Rae are righties. Renfroe bats 3rd and Rae bats 5th.
The team leader in hits is the leadoff hitter, SS Adam Frazier. Frazier was the team’s top hitter last year, batting .371 with a .482 OBP. This year, those numbers dropped to .344 and .393. This year’s team leader in OBP is junior college transfer Alex Detz. Detz has spent a lot of time DH’ing, but he’ll also play some 3B and possibly some 1B. Detz bats 2nd. Both Frazier and Detz are lefties and while neither has much pop, they are both capable of hitting one into the gap for extra bases. Frazier is one of the faster guys on the team, leading with 6 triples and stealing 7 bases.
The only other Bulldog hitter batting over .300 on the season is 2B Brett Pirtle. Pirtle, despite a .310 BA, has just a .405 SLG, with just 12 extra base hits. Nonetheless, Pirtle has been the Bulldogs' cleanup hitter. His 81 total bases would rank 9th on the Hoos (then again, his .310 BA would rank 6th). Anyway, Pirtle is a singles hitter, but he’s quick and he was 9-9 on the season stealing bases. He was also HBP 19 times, more than 25% of the team’s total. If he gets on base, look for him to run. Pirtle is also a switch hitter, one of two on the team.
Regardless of the starter, the above guys will be in the lineup. Against a RHP, the rest of the lineup includes 3B Sam Frost, CF C.T. Bradford, C Nick Ammirati, and LF Demarcus Henderson. Frost, a senior, is the best of the bunch, with an average hovering around .300 in just 88 ABs. He has just 9 RBI on the season, and just a .352 SLG but a .388 OBP. He’s also 7-7 in steals. Bradford is also 7-7 in steals, but has just a .318 SLG in 236 ABs. Ammirati and Henderson aren’t big threats as both have .260ish BA and a sub-700 OPS. Ammirati is the 2nd switch hitter on the team.
The Bulldogs haven’t faced a LHP in a while (thanks largely to Renfroe’s right handed power. The Hoos, however, have some tremendous LHP and aren’t going to shy away because of one hitter. Against LHP, Detz often moves to 3B, with Daryl Norris at DH and Frost sitting. Derrick Armstrong takes C.T. Bradford’s (a LH batter) place in the OF and Mitch Slaughter often comes in to catch. Armstrong is about the same as Henderson, with a sub-.300 SLG in just 55 ABs. Slaughter has some pop, and is 3rd on the team in isolated power. (Isolated power, or ISO, is a measure of pure power, and is computed by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. For reference, Renfroe is first on the team in ISO at .282. Slaughter is .112, which actually isn’t very good, but is 3rd on -the team. Slaughter’s ISO would rank 8th on the Hoos.)
Since we are expected to start some combination of Brandon Wadell and Scott Silverstein in the first two games, the LHP lineup is the projected one for the Bulldogs.
Mitch Slauter/Nick Ammirati
A year ago, junior college transfer Trey Porter was 3rd on the team with a .388 OBP and tied for first with 5 HRs, while starting 59 games mostly as the DH. This year, Porter started only 22 times, hit just 1 HR and had a .308 OBP. Still, as a lefty with some pop, he’s a dangerous pinch hitter and could even get a start against a RHP. Freshman Jacob Robson is also a lefty who could get a shot as a pinch hitter, but he batted just .208 on the season in 96 ABs. He did start 25 games and drive in 16 runs.
While the Hoos are one of the more balanced teams in the nation, with a deep, strong lineup, the Bulldogs are quite the opposite. The bottom of the MSU lineup isn’t very strong, while the top of the lineup is dangerous. Keeping the bottom half of the lineup off the bases will make it tougher for the Renfroe and company to do their damage. After all, a team that averages over 8 runs per game (as the Hoos do) can afford to give up a solo HR here and there. But we have to avoid the big inning.