Tuesday, February 5, 2013

MYTH-ZOU: MU vs. SEC Baseball

SEC Baseball
Myth #1 – There’s no way Mizzou Baseball can compete in the SEC.
"If Missouri entered the deep end of the pool in SEC football, they're jumping off the platform in baseball"

(Gabe DeArmond, PowerMizzou.com )
"Our challenge will be to stay out of the cellar in baseball. based on how the football and basketball teams have conducted themselves, I rather doubt that they will"

"In baseball, we are going to get drilled often in the SEC."

(Tigerboard All Sports Board)
Fact: The SEC is currently the best conference in Division I Baseball.

Fact: The SEC is not, however, a “monster conference”, not the equivalent of a Double or Triple-A Minor League, not “head and shoulders above all other conferences”. If you want to look at the statistics and the history in detail, check out our January 1st post, SxSE: Where does Mizzou Baseball rank in the SEC? 

In that post we summarize and rank the rest of the SEC teams and their performance over the past decade, including their post-season success rate, how they’re trending, the 10 year average W_L records, and a look at the BoydsWorld Conference ISR numbers for the past decade. Go ahead, click and read our earlier post, and you’ll learn two things:

  1. The SEC as a conference has only a slight edge in the past decade, and in fact have not been the #1 conference statistically in any one of the past 10 years. Their average ranking is 3.2, while the Big 12’s average was 3.4.  The SEC is indeed the best baseball conference, but only in the same way that a NASCAR driver can be in first place in points by finishing second in most of the races while no one else consistently takes 1st place.
  2. Missouri comes in at around 7th or 8th in the SEC over the past decade. So we all need to readjust our thinking and consider that as the starting point at which MU enters the conference, not at the bottom of the pile.
With those two truths in hand, I can confidently draw two conclusions:
  1. Mizzou will likely compete in the SEC with approximately the same success rate they competed in the Big 12.

    In the Big 12 the Tigers were sometimes struggling to make the cut for the conference tournament, occasionally they finished in the upper half of the conference, and were in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game 3 of the past 4 years, winning their final game last year.

    The Tigers proved they can make the conference tournament and that, once there, Jamieson and company have learned how to make the most of the opportunity in competing for that trophy.  Just as in NCAA Basketball, learning how to succeed at the end of the season is an important step in the upward progress of a program.   Repeating that sort of conference tournament success in the SEC Tourney will no doubt help the coaches and the players learn to do better in the NCAA Tournament, and will go a long way toward garnering the Tigers attention and respect.

  2. Chutes and Ladders by Hasbro
  3. Having made an educated evaluation that the Tigers begin their SEC journey around 7th or 8th overall, it's important to note that’s just a starting point in the game of SEC Chutes & Ladders. It will be up to the 2013 team and their coaches, as it will be every year, to move up the ladder from that starting point, and to do what it takes to avoid sliding down the chutes into the lower depths of the conference.

    Recruiting top prospects is key, but the everyday performance and quick development of those recruits is just as important. A certain amount of luck can help the rise, and a bunch of injuries can knock them down a notch (I almost wrote a “rash” of injuries, but decided that was a poor choice of words for this particular team).
Other questions remain, though.

  • Can the Tiger staff attract the kind of recruits they need to the coldest school in the SEC? 
  • Will Mizzou Baseball be able to attract the kind of support and attendance from the students and from the community that other SEC schools enjoy? 
  • Does Tim Jamieson have what it takes to be an SEC coach?

We’ll take a look at those questions in more MYTH-ZOU features this week.

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