Baseball

TTU BSB: What to Make of the Big 12 Race

We take a look at the state of the Big 12 and Tech’s chances to win a third straight title. Plus a review of last week and some tidbits.

A couple weeks ago, we did an overall mid-season review of Texas Tech. Perhaps I was a little harsh (the team had only lost about seven games or so), but that’s only because of the slow Big 12 start and the fact we have such high expectations for this team.

But now were going to look at the Big 12 as a whole and where the Red Raiders fit in the big picture. Last weekend was wild and gave Texas Tech a path to their third consecutive title if they play the way they can.

First off, since we’re talking about the Big 12, here are the standings at about the halfway point of the season:

Conference Record Overall Record
Oklahoma 9-3 26-13
Oklahoma State 9-3 20-13-1
Texas 11-4 24-14
Texas Tech 8-4 29-8
TCU 6-5 18-13
Kansas 3-8 19-16
Baylor 3-9 17-17
West Virginia 2-7 16-17
Kansas State 2-10 15-21

I think the biggest surprise is to see both Oklahoma schools at the top. It was a popular thought that Oklahoma was among the top four teams in the conference, but most probably see them leading the pack at this point. Tech needed Texas to beat them this weekend to stay in reach, which they did (thank you Longhorns).

Even more of a surprise is their rival; Oklahoma State. They were a picked T-6th in the preseason by the Big 12 (5th by myself, but in my defense I had them as the sleeper team). Now by going 5-1 over West Virginia and Kansas State, and sweeping TCU, they see themselves at the top.

The most disappointing team has to the be TCU as this point. They rebounded a little bit with a 2-0 series win over Kansas, but were swept by Oklahoma State and lost to Oklahoma earlier in the season. They have a shot at the title, but they need a lot of help to do so with series against two of the top four teams already over.

I believe the team in the best position right now is the Longhorns, who have one more loss than the Oklahoma teams and have played one more series. They have a tough visit to Lubbock (which may determine the title), but they do get on of the worst teams in West Virginia and host TCU at home.

As for Texas Tech? The toughest part of the schedule is coming up and it isn’t even close. The Red Raiders have gone 8-4 against the bottom four teams in the conference. It’s respectable, but a team should aim for 16-8 or better if they want a chance to win the conference and should want a better record against the bottom teams.

If you look at the conference record since the Big 12 became what it is in 2013, the winners of the conference had have the record of 16-8 (twice), 18-6, 18-5 and 19-5. Luckily, there isn’t a team blowing away the competition, so we likely won’t see a winner with five or less losses.

The Red Raiders are control of their own destiny. This upcoming weekend, they play Oklahoma at home, perhaps maybe not as confident after a series loss against the Horns at home. If Tech can win two out of three, they’ll be “tied” with Oklahoma and have a chance to be second to UT after the weekend.

After that, they play TCU in Fort Worth, which surprisingly Tech has won every series there since they entered the Big 12. They have a 8-7 conference record against them. Then they host a very important series against Texas before traveling to Oklahoma State to end the season.

The path will be difficult for Tech, but you can’t ask for much more than to control the Big 12 with your teams play. They also appear confident after four blowouts and five wins in the last six conference games and finally have their final starter in place thanks to the pitching of Caleb Kilian.

Now let’s do our Ladders and Chutes from this past weekend. There aren’t a whole lot of chutes, but that’s what happens when you defeated a conference opponent 56 to freaking 16 in aggregate.

Ladders:

  • Grant Little —  There’s debates on who is the best position player at Tech, typically between Josh Jung and Grant Little (Holt is there sometimes too). Can we just name them 1A and 1B? Little went 4 for 5 with two home runs and nine RBIs on Friday. For the series he went 8 for 15 with 13 RBIs and six runs scored.
  • Josh Jung —Little had a big weekend, so it’s only right if Jung had one too. The sophomore went 10 for 15 with five RBIs, eight runs scored and three walks. Some will point to the RBIs and say Little had a way better weekend (he did have a better weekend), but runs are important too. Someone has to be a base to get an RBI.
  • Zach Rheams — For the second time this season, Rheams homered in three straight games. He had a huge three run blast against Dallas Baptist and a couple a no-doubters against Kansas State. He went 6 for 13 with 11 RBIs, six runs scored and five walks last week. Seth C seemed to like him a lot.
  • Cameron Warren — Warren’s average wasn’t the best (he only went 2 for 12), but Warren had two of the biggest home runs on the series. On Saturday he had a grand slam that ended any hope of a comeback, and on Sunday had a homer to add two important insurance runs. Both were no-doubters.
  • Cody Farhart — Speaking of important home runs, Farhat a couple as well. Farhat had a homer to go up 9-0 in the first game to put it out of reach, and he hit a three run shot on Sunday to put Tech up 4-3 after being down 3-1. Both were basically straight over the center field wall.
  • Davis Martin — Martin only went five innings, but he struck out seven batters and allowed just four base runners. He was pulled after 81 pitches. I bet he will have a little longer leach once the postseason hits, considering he hasn’t gone terribly long in his starts so far.
  • Michael Davis — The Lubbock native got out of a slump with a big day on Saturday, as he went 5 for 5 with five RBIs and five runs scored, which includes a home run and two doubles. He also went 1 for 2 with two walks on Sunday. Perhaps changing his walk-up to “The Stroke” by Billy Squier helped him.
  • Dylan Dusek — After McMillon left the game in the fourth inning, Dusek came in and gave Texas Tech three perfect innings, which allowed for them to score seven unanswered runs. He’s fit nicely in the Jacob Patterson role this season.
  • Ty Harpenau — Ty Harpenau took over a crummy position, coming in with the bases loaded in the eighth. He got out of the inning to prevent a Wildcat comeback, then came out in the ninth and got the save. If Dusek is Patterson this year, then Harpenau is Parker Mushinski.

Chutes:

  • Jose Quezada — Quezada gave up two earned runs in 0.2 IP and gave Dallas Baptist the lead and the win last Tuesday. Apparently I heard the umpires weren’t the greatest (I was busy watching the Sox blow out the Yanks), but still have to pitch better against good teams in those situations.
  • John McMillon — For a split second, I thought Tech was going to lose the series finale. He had a career high eight strikeouts, but allowed three runs in four innings. McMillon hasn’t done well as of late, and the Red Raiders will need him to give up less and go further in the coming weeks.
  • Ryan Shetter —Shetter gave up three runs in 0.2 IP and couldn’t seem to find the strikezone the last two batters. He nearly let the Wildcats tie the game in the series finale. Not his best appearance
  • The Bullpen Dances — Due to high winds and lack of good pitching by Kansas State, there was nine home runs in the series, which is three home runs a day. That’s a lot of times to climb up on the bullpen wall and kick your feet, wave your hat or whatever the rest of the pitchers do. Maybe they’ll switch to just dancing.

Tidbits:

  • There was a lot of wind throughout the weekend, most notably on Friday. There were a few fly outs or sacrifice flys that turned into home runs due to the wind. It wouldn’t have made a difference in the series due to the margin of victory, but man was it crazy.
  • Seth C came in town for the spring game, but stopped by for the baseball game with myself and MeestahRogers. We talked and had a great time. I set the home run line at 2.5 and they picked the over and I picked the under. They won, but I’m the real winner for picking a great line, no matter what they say.
  • I said last week that I believed that the Red Raiders needed a sweep over Kansas State to stay in the Big 12 race after a series loss to Baylor. We’ll Tech got the sweep. If they had lost Sunday, they would’ve been 7-5, still two games back and in a much worse spot in my opinion.
  • I have no idea what is happening here. You can’t call it a rally cap because Tech was up like a billion runs. I don’t know anymore:

  • THE RUBBER CHICKEN IS BACK!!! I didn’t get a picture but the rubber chicken was back to being hung on the net. Love those first base line hecklers.
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