Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Best of the Rest in the West: Week Two

Each week in the "Best of the Rest in the West" rankings we take a look at the top ten western  conference teams that failed to crack the major top-25 rankings. For last week's rankings click here.

There wasn’t a ton of movement in the Top 25 rankings, so most of our teams remained the same. Here’s the new Top Ten…

1. San Diego (3-4); Previous: 3; Last Week: 3-1 vs. Kent State
The Toreros didn’t do enough to make any headway in the “real” rankings, but a 3-1 series win gives USD one of the more impressive weekends in our rankings. Though Kent State looks headed for a down year, USD’s offense deserves credit for putting up 32 runs in the series. Kris Bryant (.485 OBP this season), Dillon Haupt (.438), and Joe Connor (.222) all had big weekends at the plate.

2. Cal Poly (7-0); Previous: 4; Last Week: 4-0 vs. Santa Clara, Seattle
The Mustangs could be our next team to graduate from these rankings. Though Poly hasn’t been dominating, their 7-0 mark is the best start the program has had in their D1 history. Reliever Reed Reilly (3 saves, 14:1 K:BB, 8 IP) is off to a fantastic start to the year and the pitching in general (1.29 ERA) has been lights-out.

3. California (4-4); Previous: 2; Last Week: 1-3 vs. UC Irvine
Sunday’s 9-1 loss notwithstanding, Cal played a hard fought series versus the Anteaters that they very easily could have split or even won. The pitching (4.33 ERA) and offense (.322 slugging) has been inconsistent thus far, though there’s been a few bright spots including relievers Dylan Nelson (1.23) and Logan Scott (2.16), and DH Devon Rodriguez (1.000 OPS).

4. New Mexico (2-4); Previous: 1; Last Week: 1-2 vs. TAM-CC, Iowa, Oklahoma
The Lobos’ stock continues to fall after their second straight losing weekend. Things seemed to be going well after a 7-0 win on Friday behind junior righty AJ Carman (7 IP, 0 R, 4 H) but quickly went south after that. The Lobos lost to subpar opponent Iowa on Saturday then saw their pitching and defense fail them in a Sunday loss to red-hot Oklahoma. A quick check on 3B DJ Peterson’s slash line: .417/.548/.958.

5. Pepperdine (6-2); Previous: 7; Last Week: 2-2 vs. Cal State Fullerton, Texas A&M
It’s not often a .500 week can improve one’s stock, but the Waves are suddenly on the major rankings’ radars after fairly well against a difficult schedule and winning a road series against Texas A&M. Predictably, pitching paved the way for Pepperdine, which got quality starts from it’s entire weekend staff (Scott Frazier, Corey Miller, Jackson McClelland). The Waves now had a staff ERA of 2.57.

6. Gonzaga (4-4); Previous: 5; Last Week: 2-2 vs. UNLV/Pacific
The Zags’ 2-2 week wasn’t quite as impressive as Pepperdine’s, as Gonzaga split two pairs of games during a tournament in Stockton. The Bulldogs’ pitching got strong starts from Marco Gonzales (who now has a 4.15 ERA) and Tyler Olson (2.08) versus the Rebels, but struggled against hosting Pacific. For the season Gonzaga has been outscored 46-37.

7. New Mexico State (3-4); Previous: 6; Last Week: 1-2 vs. Ohio, Illinois, East Carolina
The Aggies lineup remains inconsistent and for the second straight week scored more runs in one game (seven on Friday) than they did the rest of the series combined (three). The Aggies drew a season-low one walk during a disappointing Saturday loss to Illinois, though the BB still remains the bread and butter of their offense, which has a .392 OBP. Rotation front-men Adam Mott (1.80 ERA) and Christopher Bradley (1.69) had been strong but the pitching otherwise has been below average.

8. Dallas Baptist (4-3); Previous: 9; Last Week: 4-0 vs. Rice, Mississippi Valley State
It’s going to be awhile before the Patriots sniff the Top 25, but DBU got back on track after an impressive win over Rice followed by a dominating performance over the weekend. DBU outscored Mississippi Valley 50-5 in the sweep and saw six different players (DH Justin Wall, 3B Austin Listi, RF Ronnie Mitchell, C Michael Miller, 1B Duncan McAlpine, LF KJ Alexander) have three-hit games over the course of the series. Righty Jake Johansen (8.1 IP, 10 K, 1 hit) dominated the Delta Devils on Saturday.

9. Cal State Bakersfield (4-3); Previous: 8; Last Week: 2-2 vs. Hofstra
A strong performance by the pitching wasn’t enough to net the RoadRunners a home series win against a somewhat weak opponent. CSUB, which now has a 3.43 ERA and K:BB of 52:23, managed to turn just two of it’s three quality starts into victories though they did manage to outscore the Pride 16-11 for the series. Each of their weekend starters (Jeff McKenzie, Scott Brattvet, and Jonathan Montoya) has an ERA below 2.8 and though the offense could use more power they boast an OBP of .394.

10. San Diego State (3-4); Previous: Top 25; Last Week: 0-4 vs. Oregon State
Not much went right for the Aztecs over the weekend, who ran into a buzzsaw of a team in Oregon State. However, the games were much closer than the 22-2 run differential indicates. SDSU got solid starts from Michael Cederoth (6 IP, 6 K, 5 BB) and Philip Walby (7.2 IP, 9 K, 2 BB) and come out of the series with a decent ERA of 3.43. The offense was pretty well shut down by a deep OSU pitching staff but DH Brad Haynal managed five hits in the series and is slugging .500.

Graduated to Top 25: None
Dropped in: San Diego State
Dropped out: UC Santa Barbara

I swear the Dirtbags were THIS close to cracking the rankings. Hopefully they can force their way in with another strong week against Seattle U and Southern Cal, speaking of which…

Up Next: The Dirtbags head to one of my favorite ballparks in the region, Dedeaux Field, to take on what use to be the Southern Cal Trojans. Live Blog forthcoming...