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Pac-12 Baseball Team Preview: Cal Golden Bears Look to Get Over the Hump

After finishing in the bottom half of the Pac-12 last year, Cal hopes to make overcome their previous issues to push for the conference title

Oregon State Athletics
Scobel Wiggins

California Golden Bears

  • Last Season: 25-29 (15-15 Conference)
  • Head Coach: Mike Neu
  • Best Returning Batter: Andrew Vaughn (.349 BA Avg)
  • Best Returning Fielder: Andrew Vaughn (474 Putouts)
  • Best Returning Pitcher: Jared Horn (4.64 ERA)

The Skinny

Cal is... a frustrating team for their fans to cheer for, to say the least.

On one hand, they boasted one of the top offenses in the Pac-12 last season. The Golden Bears finished in the top 3 in the league in team batting, behind just Oregon State and Arizona. This squad batted an excellent .287 avg in addition to 275 total runs. Plus, Cal produced 42 HRs out of their lineup, which was 2nd most in the conference last season. Anyone in this entire lineup was a threat when they were at the plate. To provide an example of how good the Bear’s hitting can be, just last season Cal got into a slugfest with Oregon State and the electric pitching staff that OSU boasts. This matchup resulted in an 11-10 win in favor of the Beavs, but this game proved that Cal could score on anyone at any point.

On the other hand, Cal finished in the bottom half of the conference in both pitching and fielding. Sure, they could score like few others, but they couldn’t get an out to save their lives at times. Cal’s pitching staff had a cumulative ERA of 5.17 and gave up 273 earned runs (EWW). Now, in defense of Cal’s pitching, their defense didn’t help them very much. The Cal defense came in 4th in the conference in errors with 63 total. In addition, the Bears had the 2nd worst stolen bases allowed ratio with 53 SBA to 78 ATT. It’s frustrating to watch a team with as good of an offense as Cal’s miss great opportunities due to poor pitching and fielding.

Just to give you perspective, Cal’s great offense knocked in 275 total runs. However, their fielding and pitching allowed opponents to score 341 total runs on them. That’s not a good strategy to win games.

Cal Berkeley Athletics
Ali Thanawalla

Now, do you remember when you were younger and in practice for whatever sport you were playing, your coach told you to limit the mental mistakes? Your coach told you that so you don’t look like Cal on the field when you’re older. This team is immensely talented but lacks the coaching that Oregon State or Stanford has in order to limit their mental mistakes.

There is some optimism for Cal heading into next season, as they will be returning most of it’s batting lineup this coming season, including the 2017 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in Andrew Vaughn. The young 1st baseman has already established himself as one of the elite hitters in the conference heading into the season and just happens to be a terrific defender, to boot. Another player to watch in this lineup will be Junior Outfielder Jeffrey Mitchell, Jr, as he batted .325 for the Bears last season and is a solid defender.

This is a squad that can surprise a lot of teams and finish in the upper 3rd of the conference if everything comes together for the team. Yet, it will all come down to the improvements in the pitching and fielding department that will dictate how far Cal can go. If they fail to make drastic improvements, then the Golden Bears will finish right around the middle of the pack in this conference, again.


Number To Know: 4

Cal will have 4 returning players that featured prominent roles in the lineup that all hit above .300 last season, in addition to 1 other player that hit .297.


Games against OSU:

March 16th, 17th, & 18th in Berkeley


Pac-12 Baseball Team Previews:

UCLA

Stanford

Arizona State

USC


Stay tuned as we preview the rest of the league!