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Pac-12 Baseball Team Preview: Can Washington State Get Out Of The Bottom?

The Cougars have their work cut out for them after two losing seasons in a row.

Twitter - @Cougbaseball

Washington State Cougars

  • Last Season: 24-29 (10-20 Conference)
  • Head Coach: Marty Lees
  • Best Returning Batter: Andres Alvarez (.308)
  • Best Returning Fielder: James Rudkin (502 putouts)
  • Best Returning Pitcher: Cody Anderson (3.40 ERA)

The Skinny

In 2015, WSU brought in former Oregon State assistant coach Marty Lees to be the 15th head coach in the history of their program. In that time, he’s gone 43-64 as the skipper of the Cougars. There was an improvement, however, from year one to year two as WSU jumped from 19 wins to 24 wins in 2017. Standing out in league play is still something that seems to elude this Cougar program though. WSU has had a winning record in Pac-12 play just twice in the last 21 seasons.

One of their biggest problems in 2017 was giving up runs late in games. This was especially true towards the end of the year where they gave up 12 or more runs for times in the final seven games of the season. There’s reason to think that they may improve given they wont’t have to deal with the growing pains that come from a young roster. The Cougars actually return eight starters as well as two regular starting pitchers. The deciding factor will be how much they were able to improve in the offseason.

Offensively, WSU has improved significantly under Lees. Last year they posted a team batting average of .272, which was their best since 2013. Junior shortstop Andres Alvarez and outfielder Justin Harrer, both All-Pac-12 Honorable Mentions a year ago, will once again need to provide big sparks at the plate if the Cougs want to make any noise. Alvarez is the Cougs’ model of offensive consistency while Harrer is more of a power hitter. Harrer led the team in home runs (5) and doubles (17) a year ago.

Fielding, this team is a mixed bag. Senior first baseman James Rudkin led the league in double plays with 48 last season and was second in putouts with 502. While he’s very dependable, the same can’t be said of Alvarez who had the second most errors in the Pac-12 with 15.

There’s reason to think that this team is going to continue to get better. But can they improve enough to escape their projected 9th place finish? Time will tell, but I’m going to go ahead and say no.


Number to Know: 2

The Cougs have made just two trips to the postseason since 1990 (2009, 2010).


Games Against OSU:

May 4th, 5th, and 6th in Pullman.


Pac-12 Baseball Team Previews:

UCLA

Stanford

Arizona State

USC

California

Arizona

Stay tuned as we preview the rest of the league!