[Moderated by Matt Jones]
If you remember back to last week I introduced the (still unsponsored) 2012 SEC Baseball Pythagorean Championship Trophy to give the players and coaches a little something extra to play for. This week, in order to add a touch of class, I added a ring of leaves to the prestigious award. Who wouldn’t want that to add to their trophy case?
Last weekend as you may remember Kentucky finally lost their first series of the season, when the Commodores of Vanderbilt took two out of three in Nashville. The recent slump in victories carried over from the weekend to last night’s game against the Florida Gators. Kentucky fell short in the first game of the series at Cliff Hagen Stadium by a score of 5-3. Due to the recent string of losses this has caused our rating to drop in the inaugural SEC Pythagorean Power Ratings. Unfortunately for Kentucky this decline has been steady since the Arkansas series. While there has been a decline, it has not resulted in an insurmountable lead to overcome for the distinction of strongest team in the SEC. At the moment there are four teams that are still very much in the running to take the top spot in the ratings and they are, in order; LSU, Arkansas, Florida, and Kentucky. While these four teams are still in the best position to take the crown there are several other teams who are within striking distance of making noise in the Championship chase. South Carolina and Ole Miss have been playing consistent ball all season but have been just outside the Pythagorean Championship discussion. This weekend there are some compelling match-ups that are certainly going to affect the ratings and one of the best of the series of the weekend will be taking place right here in Lexington.
The system I use to rate the teams of the SEC is Bill James’ Pythagorean Rating system, which rates teams based off runs scored/runs allowed and gives you their expected win percentage. In order to predict the probabilities that each team has to win a particular game I use Bill James’ Log5 method, which takes each team’s expected win probability and compares it to their opponents’ individual rating to see which team has the better chance of winning. According to the formula one of the best series of the entire SEC slate will be taking place right here in Kentucky. In addition to playing for the top spot in my ratings these two teams are playing for the ever more important top spot in the SEC East Division. The Log5 formula predicted a near 50/50 chance of winning the games in the series this weekend. These two teams are nearly identical to one another, both score at a high rate while having above average defenses. (Kentucky having the advantage in in offense while Florida has the advantage in defense). Kentucky may have given up the first game in the series, but both teams are evenly matched, so this series should come down right to the very end.
There are other compelling match-ups this weekend in the SEC that are sure to influence to ratings, one in particular is the LSU/Mississippi series. The top rated Tigers will travel to Oxford to take on the surging Rebels and this will be a match-up between two exceptionally balanced teams. While LSU has both an exceptional offense and defense the Rebels are only slightly worse in both categories. LSU has established themselves as the best team in the league with Ole Miss not far behind in the rankings, so I could see this series going wither way. Another competitive series that will be taking place this weekend is happening in Fayetteville between the Arkansas Razorbacks and South Carolina Gamecocks. I have a suspicion that this will be the most competitive series of the weekend because both teams are a carbon copy of one another, good offense and exceptional defense. Log5 says that Arkansas holds the advantage in the series but I would not find it surprising in the least if the Gamecocks were to take the series.
This weekend in the SEC will not only provide a shakeup in my ratings (that I’ve convinced myself are the most prestigious thing going in collegiate baseball at the current juncture), but will also provide some shakeup in the SEC standings that will certainly set up some fascinating match-ups in the SEC tournament. If you get tired of watching pro baseball this weekend the SEC will certainly provide some fascinating and ultra-competitive match-ups.
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