In April of 2016, I decided to post a list of 12 facts about the Texas baseball season that defined the chaos of the final year of Augie Garrido’s tenure. This year, I decided to do the same, only I one-upped myself by including 13 facts.
Here’s 13 optimism inspiring, unfortunate, or just plain weird facts about Longhorns baseball in the first year under David Pierce:
1. Redshirt sophomore catcher Michael McCann wasn’t expected to be a major contributor this season — in fact, Texas tried out other position players at catcher out of fear that Michael Cantu wouldn’t have a serviceable backup. McCann, who wasn’t even on Texas’ official roster in 2016, is hitting a team best .359 average compared to Cantu’s .194 average. McCann’s mid-season emergence has made him a semi-regular in Pierce’s lineup, as the catcher now only has three less at-bats than Cantu.
2. Junior second baseman Brett Boswell’s average reached as high as .364 on March 10. However, Boswell has fallen into a slump since then. He has only three hits in 41 at-bats in the Big 12 season, hitting .074 in conference play.
3. Texas’ .249 team average is 235th in the nation out of 295 Division 1 teams.
4. That average is worse than last year’s .268 team average, but Texas’ .392 slugging percentage is the exact same as the Longhorns’ slugging percentage in 2016. David Pierce’s clubs often hit for power more than average — his 2016 Tulane squad hit for a .253 team average, but blasted 66 homers.
5. Texas already has 29 homers, which is only five shy of the Longhorns’ 34 total dingers for all of last season. And despite the fences being brought in at the Disch, Texas pitchers have only allowed 15 home runs on the year.
6. Texas hitters are tied for fourth in the nation in walks with 191.
7. Texas was 7th in the nation in sacrifice bunts in 2016 with 75. This year, Texas is tied at 106th in Division 1 with 19.
8. Starting pitchers Nolan Kingham and Morgan Cooper are both in the top 50 for ERA in the country. Kingham’s 1.23 is good for 18th in the nation, while Cooper’s 1.79 puts him at 48th.
9. Kyle Johnston’s ERA as a starting pitcher is 1.96. His ERA as a reliever is 14.65. He’s given up as many runs (7) in 32.2 innings as a starter as he did in 4.3 innings as a reliever. Thankfully, the dominant righty is back to taking the hill to begin games, not end them.
10. Texas is tied for second most double plays turned in the nation with 38. You can thank the gloves and arms of David Hamilton and Brett Boswell for that.
11. Texas is second in the nation in fielding percentage at .985. Texas was 207th in the nation in fielding percentage last year, fielding at a .964 clip.
12. Of all the games Texas has played so far, the Longhorns’ average opponent is about 75th in the country in Boyd’s Iterative Strength rankings (counting each game played, not just every opponent faced). For the unplayed games left of the season, Texas’ average opponent will be ranked about 61st in the nation.
13. Texas has played in six games that ended in a 2-1 score. The Longhorns have lost all of them. (S/O to user “bvhorn” for commenting that last week).
BONUS FACT: Tournament outlook. Texas is currently out of the top 25, but the Longhorns are ranked 23th by Boyd’s World’s Iterative Strength rankings. On April 6th, D1baseball.com made an NCAA tournament bracket projection that put the Longhorns as a regional 3-seed. The Longhorns have since gone 3-1, including two impressive wins over Top 25 Oklahoma. Texas is not exactly on the bubble, but the Longhorns are far from a lock in the NCAA tournament.