Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Everyone Say Hi To Spanky

Unfortunately for JMU, an anagram for Spanky McFarland is Pack Fry Landsman. That can't be a good omen.

        G     RS    RA   Diff   ExpW-L   ActW-L  1RunGms    AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   SOS  ISR
JMU 55 419 342 77 33-22 38-17 7-2 .322 .411 .518 .929 195 81
NCSU 58 403 237 166 43-15 38-20 7-8 .301 .393 .460 .853 70 42

The Dukes offense looks quite good on paper, ranking in the top 30 nationally in batting average and slugging percentage. But as I like to emphasize around here, without the proper context, we can't be exactly sure of what we're seeing. Contextual information for college baseball is frustratingly limited, so this is about the best I can do to (roughly) qualify those raw numbers: JMU played a weak schedule in a conference that rates as the 9th-best in the country, all the while playing in a hitter-friendly environment. I don't mean for you to put a big mental dent in their numbers, but those are just a few factors to bear in mind. (That goes for the Wolfpack, too, which also plays in a neutral-to-hitter-friendly environment.)

The pitching...

       HR/9IP   K/9   BB/9   K/BB   dERA   AVG   OBP   SLG   OPS   ISO
JMU 1.0 8.1 3.4 2.4 4.86 .275 .363 .426 .789 .151
NCSU 0.65 8.4 3.5 2.4 4.24 .239 .322 .353 .675 .114

The two teams' peripherals (HR, K, BB rates) are comparable, but NC State has done a much better job suppressing hits in general and extra base hits in particular. The high average and power numbers posted by JMU's opponents suggest that the Dukes throw a lot of hittable pitches; the staff's strikeout rate isn't nearly enough to offset those flaws. Lord help Spanky if these guys end up playing South Carolina at some point this weekend. Based partially on the difference between their ERA (5.64) and their defense-independent ERA (4.86), I suspect that Madison's defense is somewhat lacking in range, and that doesn't help, either.

The starters...

                 IP   HR/9   K/9   BB/9   K/BB    ERA   dERA
Kyle Hoffman 81.7 1.0 8.2 2.9 2.8 6.28 4.57
Kurt Houck 76.0 0.71 8.4 3.2 2.6 4.86 4.19
Justin Wood 67.7 1.3 5.8 1.7 3.4 5.19 5.26

Hoffman and Houck have strikeout rates that are decent enough, but Wood relies on control, and he's been hit hard by opponents (.814 OPS against, 10 HRs allowed, 3.5 XBH allowed per 9IP).

Key members of the bullpen...

                 IP    HR/9   K/9   BB/9   K/BB    ERA   dERA
Turner Phelps 71.0 0.89 10.5 4.8 2.2 3.80 4.63
Kevin Munson 31.7 0.0 9.7 2.6 3.8 2.27 2.38
Trevor Knight 27.0 0.67 13.7 2.7 5.1 6.00 2.39

Munson and Knight have combined for 9 of JMU's 13 saves this season; both have outstanding peripherals. Phelps could end up starting a game this weekend, as he did start a handful during the season. If they can get to Munson and Knight with the lead, they're in good shape ... but getting to that point is kind of the problem.