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Oregon State Baseball: Chasing History

Just how historic can this season be for Oregon State?

Twitter | Oregon St. Baseball (@BeaverBaseball)

It’s no secret that the Oregon State baseball team is really, really, really good and is currently having one of the best individual seasons of all-time. Before the season the Beavers were supposed to be good but no one expected them to be THIS GOOD! Losing Logan Ice, Travis Eckert, Trevor Morrison and others to the MLB Draft hurt; not to mention the injury to Kyle Nobach and the rehab of Drew Rasmussen. Pitching was supposed to be solid, but some feared the Beavers didn’t have a true “ace”. The Beavers flipped the script though, instead leaning on Luke Heimlich (more on him later), Jake Thompson and the rest of their pitching staff, to completely dominate the regular season.

The hype started when they won 23 games in a row, earning an outstanding 28-1 record midway through the season. Remember the epic movie Moneyball, featuring Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill? The climax of that movie was when the Oakland A’s won 20 straight games (three less than OSU). The Beavers currently sit at 42-4 (24-3 Pac-12). They’ve been the consensus number one team in all major polls for eight straight weeks (and counting) and locked up the Pac-12 championship two weeks early.

Besides winning the College World Series, what more can the Beavers accomplish this season? Well, there are a number of records on the line that could further etch this Beaver squad into the history books. Here’s a look at some records to keep an eye on.

NCAA Record - Winning Percentage

The biggest record on-the-line is the NCAA all-time winning percentage record. That record was set by the Arizona State Sun Devils in 1972. They finished the season 64-6 for a winning percentage of .914, but they did not win the CWS. Pat Casey’s squad has an outside chance at setting the NCAA record for winning percentage. The Beavers currently sit a point behind at .913 with 7 regular season games remaining and anywhere from 2 to 16 post season games on the horizon. While the Beavers are currently just a fraction of a point behind ASU’s pace it would take another spectacular run from the nation’s #1 team. OSU would need to win the College World Series while losing at most one game, regular or postseason, the rest of the way. If they were to go undefeated the rest of the way the would finish at 59-4 (.936). If they were to lose one game, depending on the timing of the loss, that would put the Beavers final record at one of three possible outcomes: 58-5 (.920), 59-5 (.921) or 60-5 (.923).

The Beavers won’t break the record for single season victories though. Back in 1982, Wichita State complied 73 wins thanks to the fact that they played 87 games total. Despite the record, Wichita State’s winning percentage was a measly (.839).

Pac-12 Record - Win-Loss

Oregon State is looking to break their own Pac-12 conference record. Since the conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011, the best record has been 24-6 (.800), set by the Beavers in 2013. During the Pac-10 period Arizona State posted an impressive 26-4 (.867) league record on the way to the 1981 College World Series title. There have been better winning percentages posted by current Pac-12 teams throughout history, but none of those teams played 30 conference games, which devalues their winning percentage and importance to a degree. The Beavers currently are 24-3 (.889), in Pac-12 play. They have one home stand versus Washington State left and unless they get swept they will break their own Pac-12 win-loss record.

Options:

A) 27-3 (.900): If they win all three games

B) 26-4 (.867): If they win two games

C) 25-5 (.833): If they lose the series

D) 24-6 (.800): If they get swept

Twitter | Oregon St. Baseball @BeaverBaseball

2017 NCAA Records

The Beavers will almost assuredly finish the season with the best win percentage, while also finishing first in the following team categories: ERA (1.90), WHIP (.99) and hits allowed per game (6.31). They are also tied for first in shutouts (10), fifth in strikeouts-to-walk ratio (3.19) and seventh in walks per nine innings (2.59).

Oregon State has been impressive at every aspect of the game this season, but their pitching has been on another planet. They aren’t going to win any batting titles or home run competitions this season, but their phenomenal pitching and above average fielding has made this team the best college team in baseball.

The Beavers won’t win the most amount of games this year (curse you rain-outs), but they have been winning at a far higher clip than anyone else in the nation. Not too shabby considering there are 295 NCAA Division-I baseball teams.

Top 10 - Winning %
NCAA.com

Oregon State Records

Oregon State’s impressive season will mark the teams place in the Oregon State history books.

  • Oregon State’s current earned run average record for a season is held by Bill Oerding who finished the season with a 1.07 ERA (minimum of 40 innings pitched). Luke Heimlich will likely break that record, currently holding a 0.76 ERA through 94.1 remarkable innings. Jake Thompson isn’t far behind with an ERA of 1.11. Both will likely end up in OSU’s record book.
  • *Note list below stops in 2005 and does not include Andrew Moore’s 1.79 ERA in 2013 or Jonah Nickerson’s 131 strikeout season in 2006... etc
  • Oregon State’s record for team ERA in a season is 2.28 and was set in 2013. The Beavers team ERA currently sits at 1.90.
  • The team record for strikeouts is 463. The Beavers currently have 386 strikeouts, with seven regular season games and (hopefully) a deep post season run to come.
  • The team record for wins is 52 set in 2013 when the Beavs finished 52-13. The Beavers sit at 42-2.
  • The team record for saves is 21 set in 2005/2006. The Beavers currently have 19 saves on the season.

Individual Records

Many different Oregon State players are on the cusp of finishing the season as the Pac-12 or nation leader in certain categories.

  • Jake Thompson is currently tied for first with Cory Abbot (Loyola Marymount) for the most victories this season at 11. If Thompson keeps winning he will likely surpass Abbot, as the Lions are not expected to make a post season run.
  • Nick Madrigal leads the Pac-12 in stolen bases with 15 and is second in batting average (.389) and hits (72). He’s also in the top 5 of the following categories for the Pac-12: slugging percentage, on-base percentage, runs scored and doubles.
  • Heimlich and Thompson are first and second in the Pac-12 in ERA & opponents batting average at (.172) and (.174).
  • Heimlich is first in the Pac-12 in innings pitched (94.1).
  • Heimlich has allowed ZERO HR’s this season.
  • With the way Luke Heimlich has been pitching, Jonah Nickerson’s 2006 season where he set school records in innings pitched (136.2) and strikeouts (131) could be topped.
  • Steven Kwan is second in the Pac-12 with 10 sacrifice bunts.
  • While it has been a banner year in most respects, the Beavs do have the dubious honor of leading the Pac-12 by grounding into 35 double plays while Trevor Larnach leads the Pac-12 individually with nine.

The 23-game winning streak

The highlight of Oregon State’s season so far, has to be the dramatic 23-game winning streak; from February 25th until April 13th the Beavers DID NOT LOSE. It makes their current 9-game win streak seem inconsequential. It was the longest Beaver baseball win streak of all-time and nearly broke the Pac-12 record of 24. The streak included four straight Pac-12 series sweeps (ASU, AZ, Stanford and Utah). And a plethora of memorable walk-off wins. The series against Arizona was particularly influential for the Beavers; it was a top-10 matchup, billed as the top pitching team vs. the best hitting team. The Beavers took the first two games in dramatic walk-off fashion and ended up sweeping the Wildcats. From that time forward, the Beavers seemed to possess a certain fearlessness or confidence, where they expected to win every time they stepped on the field.

There’s no doubt that this Oregon State squad has been unusually motivated and laser-focused this season. The anger and disappointed of being left out of the field of 64 last season did not sit well with the Beavers coaching staff or players. Jake Thompson said “Last year we got snubbed from the playoffs. We want to take every game like it's our last and go out there and battle." (via OregonLive). No matter what happens as the end of the regular season creeps closer and the post season looms, this season has been one for the history books.