We’re picking up where we left off last week, looking at overall scoring margin in SEC baseball, conference-games only. We’re halfway through the SEC season now–5 series and 15 games behind us, 5 series and 15 games ahead of us. Adding up all the runs scored and all the runs allowed for each teams–according to statmeisters, a better indicator of future performance than straight win-loss–here’s what we’ve got so far, starting with last weekend’s
WEEK 5 RESULTS
South Carolina vs. Ole Miss: 5-0, 9-5, 4-5. Vanderbilt vs. Auburn: 11-6, 2-12, 3-2. Florida vs. Kentucky: 10-8, 6-3, 5-6. Miss. St. vs. Tennessee: 13-15, 11-7, 14-6. LSU vs. Alabama: 12-5, 9-7, 6-5. Arkansas vs. Georgia: 10-2, 10-2, 13-5.
1. Arkansas (12-3), +53 (-2 vs. LSU, +7 vs. UA, +6 vs. UK, +18 vs. MSU, +24 vs. UGA)
2. South Carolina (11-4), +36 (+9 vs. UT, +4 vs. AU, +19 vs. MSU, -4 vs. Vandy, +8 vs. Miss)
3. Auburn (8-7), +35 (+34 vs. UGA, -4 vs. SC, 0 vs. UA, +1 vs. LSU, +4 vs. Vandy)
4. LSU (11-4), +26 (+2 vs. Ark, +10 vs. UT, +5 vs. UGA, -1 vs. AU, +10 vs. UA)
5. Florida (10-5), +12 (+9 vs. MSU, -1 vs. Miss, -2 vs. Vandy, +2 vs. UT, +4 vs. UK)
6. Vandy (8-7), 0 (-11 vs. UA, +9 vs. UK, +2 vs. UF, +4 vs. SC, -4 vs. AU)
7. Ole Miss (8-7), -8 (+1 vs. UK, +1 vs. UF, -3 vs. UT, +1 vs. UGA, -8 vs. SC)
8. Alabama (5-10), -11 (+11 vs. Vandy, -7 vs. Ark, 0 vs. AU, -5 vs. UK, -10 vs. LSU)
9. Kentucky (5-10), -15 (-1 vs. Miss, -9 vs. Vandy, -6 vs. Ark, +5 vs. UA, -4 vs. UF)
10. Tennessee (4-11), -28 (-9 vs. SC, -10 vs. LSU, +3 vs. Miss, -2 vs. UF, -10 vs. MSU)
11. Miss. St. (5-10), -37 (-9 vs. UF, -1 vs. UGA, -19 vs. SC, -18 vs. Ark, +10 vs. UT)
12. Georgia (3-12), -63 (-34 vs. AU, +1 vs. MSU, -5 vs. LSU, -1 vs. Miss, -24 vs. Ark)
— The beat goes on for Auburn, now two games worse than any other team with a positive scoring margin and with the +4 over the weekend, co-owners of the best scoring margin posted yet by a team to lose a series. (Vandy also went +4 in their loss to Carolina.)
Still, not too many complaints. Auburn’s +1 against non-Georgia competition and has gone 5-7 in those 12 games, so only one game worse than you’d expect. One fortunate series and we’re even. Plus, the Georgia pounding looks somewhat less impressive now that Arkansas’s managed that trick, too.
— What on earth has happened to Alabama? They started the SEC slate unfortunate not to sweep the ‘Dores and now the last two weeks they’ve lost 2 of 3 to Kentucky and been roundly swept by LSU. Though even that’s far, far more explicable than what Tennessee managed last weekend, somehow getting outscored by Miss St. by 10 runs in what I’m comfortable calling the worst single-series performance in SEC play to date.
— With the Tide’s collapse, Ole Miss continuing to look a lot better in the standings than they do on the scoreboard (Rebels are now 4-0 in one-run games, a likely unsustainable amount of luck), and Vandy’s continued recovery from that opening pratfall against Alabama, the SEC looks to have divided itself neatly into two equal halves. The top 6 teams are competitive at worst and dominating at best, the bottom 6 not always competitive and only ever dominant against each other. Series record for the top 6 against the bottom 6? 15-3. (The wins? The bizarre ‘Bama-Vandy series and ‘Bama-Auburn/Ole Miss-Florida, both decided by one-run games.)
— So: Arkansas moves into the No. 1 spot with authority after bludgeoning the Dawgs, but they’ve also played the second-easiest schedule in the league to date, having already faced four of the bottom 6 and just one of the top 6. (Florida’s had the cushiest, having faced none of the four teams ahead of them in run differential.) The toughest schedule amongst contenders so far? Yep, Auburn, who’s already faced two of the other three members of the top 4, has only faced one of the three genuinely horrible team at the bottom of the rankings, and has played an extra series on the road. (The toughest overall? ‘Bama’s. They still have Tennessee and Miss. St. on the docket, but it’s a bad break to miss the Dawgs.)
— And so as I’ve been saying for a while, the question isn’t whether Auburn makes it to Hoover; it’s what seed they have when they get there. Combine the rough schedule and the positive scoring margin anyway and you get a team that’s seems very, very likely to do some exciting things in the second half of the conference season.
P.S. Game against Troy tonight will be started by Cole Nelson; PPL has some thoughts on Nelson and some info on Nelson’s father fight against cancer. Must-read.