As we come out of the first OSU baseball series of the 2012 campaign I wanted to go over a few quick thoughts about the results (also see Figgi's more in-depth write up about the weekend games here).
In general I think we should be pleased that the Beavs came out of this opener with a 3 and 1 record and also showed some nice heart in sticking with games that looked to be getting away from the team at times, especially of note was the 12 inning loss in Game 3. Even though the opponent was not a top 25 team UC Santa Barbara was still a solid enough opponent to be a test. Additionally throw in some other tough conditions such as the weather at times (wind and cold), being on the road, and calls that were annoyingly bizarre (the "time out" call off of the second out in Game 4 being a highlight for me) I just thought this was solid series for a pretty new team.
We saw lots of new faces and different rotations in the roster and the Beavs did well in finding enough of their game legs.
So let's take a look at some of the main areas:
Overall I dislike the whole "grading" scheme of analysis so going to stick with more of a general Excellent, Good, Fair, and Needs Improvement series of categories for each area. Also I missed all of Game 2 and the opening few innings of Game 3, so would love to hear other people's impressions about anything/anyone I may have missed.
First, OFFENSE = Good to Fair: I felt like the offensive side of things was a mixed bag. The team as a whole lacked some spark at times and executed some poor base running (and a couple of examples occurred at what I thought were possible key moments, such as Hayes being thrown out at home after his triple). I'm not overly concerned as yet for their are a good number of players who have never really dealt with baseball at this level and it will take a little time to adjust to the speed of the game. That said there were a good number of opportunities missed with runners in scoring positions with favorable out situations. But the offense also showed some spark at some important times such as Game 3 in bailing out a pretty poor fielding and pitching performance by the Beavs. Additionally I liked the power we had with Michael Conforto and Danny Hayes, but on the flip side a little concerned by the lack of power and hitting by Ryan Dunn, Ryan Barnes, and Jake Rodriguez. All in all it was a decent offensive series, not great by any means but decent and I'll hold off making too much out of it all right now.
DEFENSE = Fair: I wanted to give this one a mixed bag rating too with how the Beavs had two pretty solid games (Games 1 and 4) but really Game 3 was just a pretty poor performance with the errors and overall lack of solid play. As such since this is a Pat Casey team I'm going to hold them to higher standards here! I'm still of the mind that the defense will be fine this year. The funny thing is that my main concern coming in was the outfield and we did indeed have a bunch of new people out there, but it was the infield returning people that really seemed to have the issues. So not going to call anyone out on this one for I think it will be better this upcoming series in San Diego. Plus I just again fell that it will all fill in as a typically strong OSU defense as the season progresses, and it is good to get the yips out early on. Oh, I thought Rodriguez was pretty good back behind the plate filling in for the suspended Ryan Gorton.
PITCHING = Needs Improvement: Going with my theme above I am personally not ready to become overly concerned and I totally understand it is a very new and green bunch of people on the roster here, but at the same time I did not have strong sense of any one player really stepping up and having that strong Sam Gaviglio type of presence. This series had much more the feel of attempting to establish some identity but mostly about getting a bunch of new guys some experience. Riley Wilkerson, Taylor Starr, and Scott Schultz all had some good moments; and I really thought Cole Brocker sounded/looked very good in his Game 4 appearance. Tony Bryant seemed pretty solid too and all in all was probably the "stand out" pitcher for this series, and Matt Boyd was a bit of a mixed bag I thought with a good showing in Game 1 and a more rough showing in Game 4. (I'm probably leaving someone out here!) What I'm most concerned about is we just don't seem to have any solid rotation identity yet, especially in terms of having two strong starters. But again just not sure how much of this we are going to see in these first couple series so will hold off judgment for a little while.
All in all I'm not too concerned (though people around me during Game 4 probably would argue I was acting otherwise) with how things went in this opening series. I think though that I want to see a substantial step forward in the pitching this next weekend. Also it will be interesting to see how the Beavs can perform in a series against four different teams.
One thing for certain is I am very excited to have baseball back!