As promised, or threatened, here is the second and concluding RVM's "Baseball Year in Review" posting. If you missed Part One, you may want to get caught up to speed.
In this one I want to review the defense and pitching for the year. As always I very much welcome anyone's thoughts.
Greg Peavey pitches, Oregon State vs. Arizona State: Game Two, 5/2/09, RVM
Pitching this year was a bit of a ride in that it seemed like at the start of the season the closing part of the rotation was killing us, then later it was the middle part of the rotation, then all of the sudden the starters lost their touch and focus. One good part of this is that the team didn't really have bad streaks where all the parts of the rotation played poorly at once. The first UW game comes to mind in how Robles pitched a wonderful game, but then the mid-relief almost lost it, and finally the closer Rhoderick came in and took care of business. But then you had the second UW game or the first WSU game and the starters just got us too much in a hole, or the first game of the season against Tennessee where Rhoderick lost the game for the team in the ninth inning. But maybe this paints too critical picture for looking back at the entire season the pitching was pretty good. If you look at the national placement of the pitching stats below it does become apparent that OSU pitching was very competitive.
The microcosm of this idea for me award goes to Jorge Reyes. Reyes looked great at times such as against UO and Hawai'i, but at other times struggled such as against Missouri State and ASU. Then at times Reyes was solid enough to help lead the team to victory such as against UA and USC. That said, I am expecting to see his leadership in the post-season.
All in all to have any success in the post-season the pitching needs to stay well-rounded throughout the rotation. A bad performance in any of the areas could be picked up by other parts of the rotation, but at the same time a really bad performance by one area or a poor showing by more than one pitcher during a game will send the team home. Also, I (along with others on BtD) believe Reyes, Gaviglio and possibly Gorton (maybe Waldron?) will be key to any type of post-season run. I do also think that the pitching started to come around nicely at the end of the season, not perfection but there were moments of being pretty close thanks to Waldron and especially Gaviglio.
In conclusion, I will say the team looks to have some extremely promising young pitchers in Gaviglio and Gorton; so along with the experienced sophomore class in Nygren, Osich, Peavey, Rhoderick, Robles, Sitton, and Waldron I'm thinking we should have some very good years ahead.
Final Out! Sitton strikes out the batter, Oregon State vs. Washington State: Game Two, 5/16/09, RVM
The pitching totals for the year ended as this:
-Team ERA: 3.69 (opponent ERA: 5.80), which was 7th in the nation out of 288 schools ranked.
-Strikeouts: 401 (opponent strikeouts: 332), which was 58th in the nation for strikeouts per nine innings out of 288 schools ranked.
-Hits allowed: 404 (opponent hits allowed: 477), which was 3rd in the nation for hits allowed per nine innings out of 288 schools ranked.
-Doubles allowed: 71 (opponent doubles allowed: 81)
-Triples allowed: 9 (opponent triples allowed: 13)
-HRs allowed: 30 (opponent HRs allowed: 22)
-Base on balls: 182 (opponent base on balls: 283), which was 77th in the nation for walks allowed per nine innings out of 288 schools ranked.
-B/Avg for opponents: .237 (opponent B/Avg against OSU batters: .275)
-Pick offs: 5
Onwards to the defense and final thoughts after the break!
Koa Kahalehoe makes the catch, Oregon State vs. Arizona State: Game Two, 5/2/09, RVM
Overall this year the defense was really solid. There was the one really bad and jaw-dropping five error Sunday game against UCLA. And there were a few, but not many, games where the fielding cost the team a game. One such example was the fourth inning error in the Friday UCLA game that really allowed the Bruins to sneak away with a 7 to 5 win. But you figure in a long but fast season there will be a couple games like this, and the Beavs ended up one of the best Pac-10 defensive teams so no complaints here!
Again, the defense was excellent when the pitching and batting went through spells of struggling. One example I thought was telling, even though it did not lead to a win, was the Sunday game against WSU and the bats went quiet late in the game and Rhoderick had just gave up his first extra base hit as a Beaver. But the defense threw out a runner at home on that Stanford extra base hit and kept the Beavs in position to tie or win it being only down one run in the ninth (but alas it didn't work out). Another much better example, this time combining with stellar pitching for a win, was the Friday Stanford game. Yes, there was one error but the team turned a couple double plays and overall the defense behind Sam Gaviglio contributed to a shutout on the road.
One specific area I thought was excellent was the team turned 51 double plays (61st in the country out of 288 schools), and many times at key points in the game. In regards of individual players Wong, Tommasini, and Norris were very good in the infield, but will have to say my defensive MVP goes to John Wallace. He was solid as heck in center field. I got to witness his play first-hand during the Saturday ASU game, where he not only stole a HR but made an incredible diving catch that lead to a double play. These two plays were huge in that one run win for the Beavs.
Ryan Ortiz fielding the bunt, Oregon State vs. Washington State: Game Two, 5/16/09, RVM
Personally, I'm very confident about the young pitching and defensive players coming back, such as Carter Bell looks to be an excellent replacement for Wong in the infield. I think the problems could be more in replacing the bats of people like Ortiz and Santos (if these players don't come back next year).
The Beavers ended the season with 48 errors and a fielding % of .976 (as compared to the opponents total of 70 errors and fielding % of .965 versus the Beavs), not bad. The OSU fielding % ended at 11th in the country (out of 288 schools ranked).
Wong and Tommasini double play ball, Oregon State vs. Arizona State: Game Two, 5/2/09, RVM
As I've talked about previously this season was a bit of a mystery to me. I was really excited about the promise the team was showing in non-conference play, then got in a bit of a back and forth with the team going hot and cold in conference play, and finally ended on a good note at Stanford.
Can the team make a run in the post-season? Personally, I think they have the talent to do it. But the team is lacking both a specific leader like Darwin Barney or Jacoby Ellsbury and so far has been lacking a really strong team identity. I think with this team they need to establish the latter and get that team identity to make a run to Omaha. The problem is there is not a lot of time to do this.
Overall, when I looked back on the season it really had some good and exciting moments. Sure it was frustrating at times, but that's baseball (I think one of the toughest sports to be a fan in). It was a pretty darn good year that could well still be a great one.
Celebrating the win, Oregon State vs. Arizona State: Game Two, 5/2/09, RVM