I’ll just come right and admit it: this whole scoring margin experiment doesn’t seem to be working out so hot.
According to last week’s run differential rankings, Ole Miss shouldn’t have had a prayer against LSU; Florida was mostly a product of having whipped up on Miss. St. and had one win in the offing at the most against red-hot Arkansas; Vandy had been underrated and would pound Tennessee; and Auburn should win 2 of 3 from Kentucky without any problem and might sweep.
None of that worked out that way. The lucky just got luckier, the unlucky just stayed unlucky. Oh well. The other shoe should drop eventually, right? So we’ll forge ahead:
WEEK 6 RESULTS
Auburn vs. Kentucky: 13-6, 7-8, 6-5. South Carolina vs. Georgia: 11-4, 5-0, 8-7. Tennessee vs. Vanderbilt: 1-10, 4-2, 4-3. Ole Miss vs. LSU: 11-9, 9-8, 7-6. Alabama vs. Miss. St.: 8-6, 9-8, 6-4. Florida vs. Arkansas: 3-8, 8-2, 2-1.
1. Arkansas (13-5), +51 (-2 vs. LSU, +7 vs. UA, +6 vs. UK, +18 vs. MSU, +24 vs. UGA, -2 vs. UF)
2. South Carolina (14-4), +49 (+9 vs. UT, +4 vs. AU, +19 vs. MSU, -4 vs. Vandy, +8 vs. Miss, +13 vs. UGA)
3. Auburn (10-8), +42 (+34 vs. UGA, -4 vs. SC, 0 vs. UA, +1 vs. LSU, +4 vs. Vandy, +7 vs. UK)
4. LSU (11-7), +22 (+2 vs. Ark, +10 vs. UT, +5 vs. UGA, -1 vs. AU, +10 vs. UA, -4 vs. Miss)
5. Florida (12-6), +14 (+9 vs. MSU, -1 vs. Miss, -2 vs. Vandy, +2 vs. UT, +4 vs. UK, +2 vs. Ark)
6. Vandy (9-9), +6 (-11 vs. UA, +9 vs. UK, +2 vs. UF, +4 vs. SC, -4 vs. AU, +6 vs. UT)
7. Ole Miss (11-7), -4 (+1 vs. UK, +1 vs. UF, -3 vs. UT, +1 vs. UGA, -8 vs. SC, +4 vs. LSU)
8. Alabama (8-10), -6 (+11 vs. Vandy, -7 vs. Ark, 0 vs. AU, -5 vs. UK, -10 vs. LSU, +5 vs. MSU)
9. Kentucky (6-12), -22 (-1 vs. Miss, -9 vs. Vandy, -6 vs. Ark, +5 vs. UA, -4 vs. UF, -7 vs. AU)
10. Tennessee (6-12), -34 (-9 vs. SC, -10 vs. LSU, +3 vs. Miss, -2 vs. UF, -10 vs. MSU, -6 vs. Vandy)
11. Miss. St. (5-13), -37 (-9 vs. UF, -1 vs. UGA, -19 vs. SC, -18 vs. Ark, +10 vs. UT, -5 vs. UA)
12. Georgia (3-15), -76 (-34 vs. AU, +1 vs. MSU, -5 vs. LSU, -1 vs. Miss, -24 vs. Ark, -13 vs. SC)
— It’s the same-ol’-same-ol’ for Auburn, which has now outscored their opponents by eight runs since the Georgia series and has a 7-8 record to show for it. Six of those games have been decided by two runs or less, with Auburn posting a 2-4 mark in those six. Yes, Auburn came within a whisker of dropping the series to Kentucky and maybe we should be counting our blessings … but part of winning that late game Sunday was catching the breaks the Tigers had been largely denied over the past few weeks.
Of course, lest we get too frustrated, it’s worth noting that Auburn now has a four-game lead and the tiebreak over the current No. 9 team in the SEC standings. Barring a total collapse at home against two of the three worst teams in the league (Tennessee and Miss. St., due for trips to the Plains later this month), Hoover is assured. Still, if Auburn’s going to make a run at hosting a regional, they’d better hope some of that iffy luck starts balancing out as soon as this weekend.
— Man, someone over in Oxford is living right. The Rebels were already leading the league in mathematical overachievement and that was before they won two more one-run games and swept LSU with the smallest total margin (+4) for a sweep in the SEC yet this year. (Next-lowest: ‘Bama over MSU, new this week at +5.) Ole Miss has still been outscored for the season in SEC play yet they sit four games ahead of .500. We’ll see, but I’m still guessing the Rebels get their comeuppance eventually; going 7-0 in games decided by two runs or just shouldn’t be sustainable.
— LSU’s good, no question, but is it time to wonder if they’re that good? The Rebels were fortunate to get the sweep, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t the better team over the course of the weekend. The Purple Tigers have only played two series against teams in the top half of these rankings and still lag behind as a distant fourth.
— Vandy is the team whose scoring margin holds the least amount of influence over their actual results. The last four series the ‘Dores are 0-3 when outscoring their opponent for the weekend and 1-0 when they get outscored. Weird.
— More evidence for the “LSU and Ole Miss are overrated” file: the other three upper-echelon teams to face Georgia have blown them clean off the map. Tigers and Rebels combined to outscore them by 6. Maybe it’s just that the Dawgs got their act together for those two series before collapsing again … but I doubt it.
UPDATE: Reader Pie kindly ran the Pythagorean win calculations for the SEC and came up with some interesting (if expected, in some cases) results. From the comments:
The only difference in the rankings is that South Carolina is WAY better than Arkansas. When you play in lower scoring games, that 50 runs goes a long way.
Auburn(-.105), Kentucky, and Vandy are the unluckiest teams, having SEC records .050+ worse than expected. Hopefully that bodes well for Auburn down the stretch.
Ole Miss(.130) and Florida(.088) are the lucky ones.
The only issue is that .050 is one win, which means a lot of margin for error. As a whole, Auburn should only have 2 more SEC wins and 3 more wins total. (Since -.105/.05 =~2. By contrast, Ole Miss should be two games worse: .130/.05 = ~2.5+.–ed.) If you think about it, that isn’t a lot of games to change, though they make a big difference.
LSU is where they deserve. They are playing at .611 and their expected is .584. That is half a game. (I should note here that my “overrated” tag applies to LSU’s position in the national rankings, which have them No. 9 in the country.–ed.) Georgia is better than you think as they are -.049 per Pyg. They are unlucky.
*For the Office fans.
Photo by Leffie Dailey.