This week the No. 8 Texas Longhorns (24-10) host the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (10-21) followed by a three-game series on the road against the Kansas State Wildcats (15-16). Having played three Big 12 matchups so far, Texas sits at 5-4 in conference while Kansas St has fallen to the bottom at 1-8.
This week, Texas had some fun against UTRGV and claimed a 2-1 series against TCU. During this span they scored 27 runs, seven of them coming off homers from Mitchell Daly (BA = .143), Dylan Campbell (.286), Douglas Hodo III (.200), Ivan Melendez (.313), and Murphy Stehly (.294). On top of that, Skyler Messinger (.467), Silas Ardoin (.357) and Austin Todd (.385) all hit amazingly well throughout the series.
Runs created is a tried-and-true metric for measuring the number of runs a player is responsible for creating past simply hitting the ball. Bill James has created varying versions of the formula, with each one adding different details to fine tune the accuracy. The one used for this week’s matchups factors in total bases, on-base percentage, and bases stolen divided over the number of at bats plus walks. I then transposed this against the number of at bats to visualize consistently great batters and distinguish any anomalies.
Melendez (RC/AB = .410) and Stehly (.373) instantly jump out as extraordinary sluggers and runners with Melendez ranking in the 97th percentile and Stehly right behind in the 96th. Eric Kennedy (.239) andTrey Faltine (.225), along with Ardoin (.204), and Messinger (.213) are all key role players in keeping the entire team’s numbers up. Kennedy’s batting average isn’t eye popping compared to some of the other Longhorns in the rotation, but leads in stolen bases, going 8-for-9 which boosts his score here. The only batter in the usual rotation that is underperforming at the moment seems to be Daly (.119).
For SFA, most of their lineup sits at or below average except for catcher Jake Zarrello (.242). The other most frequent batters in their rotation are center fielder Kyle Cullen (.106), designated hitter Dillon Eatman (.145), and left fielder Clayton Loranger (.083) which all fall very low compared to the rest of the nation. This should hopefully be a blowout win, but Texas never seems to fully dominate these predictably lopsided games.
For Kansas State, center fielder Dominic Johnson (.270) and right-fielder Dylan Philips (.253) currently lead the team with some exceptional batting performances. Following them are outfielder Cole Johnson (.228) and shortstop Nick Goodwin (.183), who are putting up decent numbers as well.
After left-hander Pete Hansen’s incredible game against the Horned Frogs, I wanted to highlight his tremendous performance by dividing up how each pitcher’s appearances went last week.
First, highlighting Hansen’s performance, he allowed only two hits over the course of the whole first game against TCU, with one walk, 12 strikeouts, 11 fly outs, and eight ground outs. Right-hander Justin Eckhardt struggled in his start against UTRGV, giving up five runs in 4.2 innings, and similarly right-hander Tristan Stevens gave up six runs in two innings in the second game against TCU. Right-handers Travis Sthele and Jared Southard provided some solid relief help over multiple innings this week as well.
This week, we are looking at the difference between strikeouts and walks over innings pitched. The strikeout-to-walk ratio is used more often (K/BB rather than K-BB). However, when walks are a denominator rather than the usage of the pitcher, it tends to eliminate the value of pitchers with strikeout rates and walk rates that are both low or both high. Also (K-BB)/IP generates a decently high R-squared value of .73 and .95 with pitching metrics such as FIP or SIERA, respectively, which goes to show it can be used as an accurate measure of performance.
Hansen ((K-BB)/IP = 1.058) has distinguished himself as a phenomenal pitcher in the league with only 10 percent of the league averaging more than a difference of one between their strikeouts and walks — needless to say he is also holding this outstanding stat for longer as a starter. Sthele (.650), Southard (.661), and left-hander Luke Harrison (.684) are the only other Longhorns in the bullpen who have an above average rate.
SFA pitching is scrambling to find a solution this season, giving up 8.6 runs a game. Right-handers Joe Todd (.299), Benny Emmons III (.497), and Joe Richter (.467) have all been subpar pitchers thus far. Aside from their primary pitchers, the team as a whole has a differential of -0.434 which ranks in the first percentile. Ultimately, Texas has the chance to get in some great batting practice against SFA.
Kansas State has solid right-handed starters in Connor McCullough (.584), Blake Adams (.764), Griffin Hassall (.528), and Blake Corsentino (.654). Relief pitcher German Fajardo (1.136) is the only pitcher in their bullpen with a more formidable rate. On the other hand, they are coming off a crushing 0-3 series against No. 4 Texas Tech, giving up 27 runs including five home runs. The Longhorns have the potential to leap on the Wildcats spiral before they have a chance to bounce back.