2017 College Baseball preview: Preseason rankings, prospects, what and how to watch – CBSSports.com

Soon enough, the winding journey to the College World Series in Omaha begins in earnest, and that — blessedly — means meaningful, for-keeps baseball played in February. February! Yes, the start of the 2017 college baseball season is upon us, and now it’s time preview that very thing. So consider this a first look at who’s going to replace Coastal Carolina atop the college baseball heap (note: it quite possibly could be Coastal Carolina). Let’s light this candle …

Preseason Composite Rankings

To get started, let’s take a look at some composite rankings. What we’ve done is taken each of the six major preseason polls ( Baseball America, Perfect Game, USA Today coaches’ poll, D1Baseball.com, Collegiate Baseball, and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association) and assigned “poll points” to each team ranked in the top 25 of each poll.

No. 1-ranked teams get 25 points, No. 2-ranked teams get 24 points, all the way down to the No. 25-ranked teams, which get one point. So we add all the points up — across, again, all six major polls — and arrive at our composite rankings.

Here they are for 2017, with point totals in parentheses:

Rank Team Poll points Conference 2016 results
1. TCU 150 Big 12 49-18, College World Series
2. Florida 140 SEC 52-16, College World Series
3. LSU 137 SEC 45-21, NCAA Super Regional
4. Florida State 130 ACC 41-22, NCAA Super Regional
5. South Carolina 129 SEC 46-18, NCAA Super Regional
6. Oregon State 113 Pac-12 35-19
7. Vanderbilt 111 SEC 43-19, NCAA Regional
8. Louisville 104 ACC 50-14, NCAA Super Regional
9. East Carolina 98 American Athletic 38-23-1, NCAA Super Regional
10. Cal State Fullerton 82 Big West 36-23, NCAA Regional
11. North Carolina 78 ACC 34-21
12. Clemson 75 ACC 44-20, NCAA Regional
T-13. Louisiana-Lafayette 72 Sun Belt 43-21, NCAA Regional
T-13. NC State 72 ACC 38-22, NCAA Regional
15. Coastal Carolina 67 Sun Belt 55-18, National Champions
16. Arizona 52 Pac-12 49-24, National Runner-up
17. Virginia 44 ACC 38-22, NCAA Regional
18. Miami-FL 40 ACC 50-14, College World Series
T-19. Oklahoma State 31 Big 12 43-22, College World Series
T-19. Stanford 31 Pac-12 31-23
21. Texas Tech 29 Big 12 47-20, College World Series
22. Washington 27 Pac-12 33-23, NCAA Regional
T-23. Ole Miss 24 SEC 43-19, NCAA Regional
T-23. Texas A&M 24 SEC 49-16, NCAA Super Regional
T-23. UC-Santa Barbara 24 Big West 43-20-1, College World Series

Others receiving poll points: Long Beach St. (15), Rice (11), Maryland (10), Texas (9), Houston (6), Georgia Tech (5), Cal Poly (4), Sam Houston St. (3), UNC-Wilmington (2), Arizona St. (1)

As indicated by their whopping 150 poll points, TCU was ranked No. 1 in all six preseason polls, which is the first time that’s happened since we’ve been doing these here previews. The powerhouse TCU offense will be helmed by sophomore 1B/DH Luken Baker, who mashed 11 home runs last season while running an OBP of .483. Overall, the Horned Frogs return seven of eight position players from the 2016 team that made it to Omaha. In the rotation, lefty Nick Lodolo figures to be one of the top freshman of 2017.

The Horned Frogs have made the College World Series for three straight years, but they’re still seeking their first national championship. To that end, the 2017 team looks like the best in program history.

Otherwise, all eight teams that made the College World Series last year are in the preseason composite top 25 for 2017, with reigning champ Coastal Carolina checking in at No. 15. Meantime, three ranked teams — Oregon State, North Carolina, and Stanford — didn’t make the NCAA tournament in 2016. Obviously, that’s expected to change this time around.

Conference Power Rankings

Now, let’s shift our focus to the conferences. Let’s cobble together some preseason conference power rankings by adding up all the poll points conference by conference (we’ll also include the “others receiving poll points” teams in our tabulations). Here’s what comes out of the wash heading into the 2017 season …

As is typically the case in college baseball, the SEC and ACC lord over all. As you can see, the SEC accounts for three of the top five teams in the composite rankings, and the ACC places seven teams in the top 25 (to the SEC’s six). In matters at least partially related, the states of North and South Carolina combine for seven teams receiving poll points. That’s pretty astounding. As for the otherwise powerful Big Ten, yep, pity the cold-weather circuit when it comes to baseball.

Big games

What follows is certainly not an exhaustive list of high-leverage 2016 contests, but here are all the scheduled matchups between teams in the top 10 of our composite preseason rankings …

  • 3/3 – TCU vs. LSU (at Houston)
  • 3/14 – Florida State at Florida
  • 3/24 – LSU at Florida
  • 3/25 – LSU at Florida
  • 3/26 – LSU at Florida
  • 3/28 – Florida State at Florida
  • 4/6 – Vanderbilt at South Carolina
  • 4/7 – Vanderbilt at South Carolina
  • 4/8 – Vanderbilt at South Carolina
  • 4/11 – Florida at Florida State
  • 4/13 – Florida at Vanderbilt
  • 4/14 – Florida at Vanderbilt
  • 4/15 – Florida at Vanderbilt
  • 4/20 – South Carolina at Florida
  • 4/21 – South Carolina at Florida
  • 4/22 – South Carolina at Florida
  • 5/5 – South Carolina at LSU
  • 5/6 – South Carolina at LSU
  • 5/7 – South Carolina at LSU
  • 5/9 – Vanderbilt at Louisville
  • 5/18 – Florida State at Louisville
  • 5/19 – Florida State at Louisville
  • 5/20 – Florida State at Louisville

How to watch: For the college baseball enthusiast, the television landscape was pretty bleak for a long time. That’s changed, though. The WatchESPN platform is definitely the way to go. With streaming access to the usual ESPN channels plus the SEC Network, ACC Network Extra, and the Longhorn Network, you can pretty much always catch a game during the season. This season, you can catch 135 regular season games in addition to full coverage of the postseason. Good days, these.

Top 10 draft-eligible college prospects

Now let’s talk individual players, and let’s talk about them with an eye toward the June MLB draft. To this end, I consulted with Hero Sports prospect and draft expert Chris Crawford (@Crawford_MILB on Twitter; he’s also the author of some really nifty draft and prospect guides).

Here are Crawford’s top 10 draft-eligible college prospects heading into the 2016 season:

1. Jeren Kendall, CF, Vanderbilt
2016 stats: .332/.396/.568, 9 HR, 28 SB

2. Kyle Wright, RHP, Vanderbilt
2016 stats: 93 IP, 3.09 ERA, 107 SO

3. Alex Faedo, RHP, Florida
2016 stats: 105 IP, 3.18 ERA, 133 SO

4. Tanner Houck, RHP, Missouri
2016 stats: 105 1/3 IP, 2.99 ERA, 106 SO

5. Brendan McKay, LHP, Louisville
2016 stats: 110 IP, 2.30 ERA, 128 SO; .333/.414/.513, 6 HR as 1B

6. Corbin Martin, RHP, Texas A&M
2016 stats: 26 1/3 IP, 5.47 ERA, 33 SO

7. J.B. Bukauskas, RHP, North Carolina
2016 stats: 78 IP, 3.10 ERA, 111 SO

8. J.J. Schwarz, C/DH, Florida
2016 stats: .290/.397/.456, 7 HR

9. Tristan Beck, RHP, Stanford
2016 stats: 83 IP, 2.48 ERA, 76 SO

10. Peter Solomon, RHP, Notre Dame
2016 stats: 57 2/3 IP, 4.68 ERA, 71 SO

And finally …

A bit of history

In conclusion, let’s run down all the past college baseball national champions and runners-up:

Year National Champion Runner-up
2016 Coastal Carolina (55-18) Arizona
2015 Virginia (44-24) Vanderbilt
2014 Vanderbilt (51-21) Virginia
2013 UCLA (49-17) Mississippi State
2012 Arizona (48-17) South Carolina
2011 South Carolina (55-14) Florida
2010 South Carolina (54-16) UCLA
2009 LSU (56-17) Texas
2008 Fresno State (47-31) Georgia
2007 Oregon State (49-18) North Carolina
2006 Oregon State (50-16) North Carolina
2005 Texas (56-16) Florida
2004 Cal State Fullerton (47-22) Texas
2003 Rice (58-12) Stanford
2002 Texas (57-15) South Carolina
2001 Miami-FL (53-12) Stanford
2000 LSU (52-17) Stanford
1999 Miami-FL (50-13) Florida State
1998 Southern California (49-17) Arizona State
1997 LSU (57-13) Alabama
1996 LSU (52-15) Miami-FL
1995 Cal State Fullerton (57-9) Southern California
1994 Oklahoma (50-17) Georgia Tech
1993 LSU (53-17-1) Wichita State
1992 Pepperdine Cal State Fullerton
1991 LSU (55-18) Wichita State
1990 Georgia (52-19) Oklahoma State
1989 Wichita State (68-16) Texas
1988 Stanford (46-23) Arizona State
1987 Stanford (53-17) Oklahoma State
1986 Arizona (49-19) Florida State
1985 Miami-FL (64-16) Texas
1984 Cal State Fullerton (66-20) Texas
1983 Texas (66-14) Alabama
1982 Miami-FL (55-17-1) Wichita State
1981 Arizona State (55-13) Oklahoma State
1980 Arizona (45-21-1) Hawaii
1979 Cal State Fullerton (60-14-1) Arkansas
1978 Southern California (54-9) Arizona State
1977 Arizona State (57-12) South Carolina
1976 Arizona (56-17) Eastern Michigan
1975 Texas (59-6) South Carolina
1974 Southern California (50-20) Miami-FL
1973 Southern California (51-11) Arizona State
1972 Southern California (47-13-1) Arizona State
1971 Southern California (46-11) Southern Illinois
1970 Southern California (45-13) Florida State
1969 Arizona State (56-11) Tulsa
1968 Southern California (43-12-1) Southern Illinois
1967 Arizona State (53-12) Houston
1966 Ohio State (27-6-1) Oklahoma State
1965 Arizona State (54-8) Ohio State
1964 Minnesota (31-12) Missouri
1963 Southern California (35-10) Arizona
1962 Michigan (34-15) Santa Clara
1961 Southern California (36-7) Oklahoma State
1960 Minnesota (34-7-1) Southern California
1959 Oklahoma State (27-5) Arizona
1958 Southern California (29-3) Missouri
1957 California (35-10) Penn State
1956 Minnesota (37-9) Arizona
1955 Wake Forest (29-7) Western Michigan
1954 Missouri (22-4) Rollins
1953 Michigan (21-9) Texas
1952 Holy Cross (21-3) Missouri
1951 Oklahoma (19-9) Tennessee
1950 Texas (27-6) Washington State
1949 Texas (23-7) Wake Forest
1948 Southern California (26-4) Yale
1947 California (31-10) Yale

Soon enough, we’ll be adding another champ to this list. In the meantime, enjoy the baseball.

Comments

Write a Reply or Comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.