The 2018 regular season somehow came and went already. It once again went well for Oregon State as they finished up with a 44-10-1 record. They’re far from done though, with regional play beginning any minute now.
But before that, we thought we would take one last look at the 2018 regular season and talk about our favorite moments, key performers, and what can improve for the Beavers as they continue their push towards Omaha and the College World Series.
Who was the MVP of the team this regular season?
MR: So many nominees including Nick Madrigal, Adley Rutschman, Luke Heimlich and Trevor Larnach etc. My pick is Trevor Larnach. He’s played great in right field and has been an absolute force at the plate with a .324 avg, 17 HRs and 64 RBI.
RP: Larnach is a great choice, but I have to go with Adley Clutcshman. Heading into the season, we all knew how good Rutschman was, defensively. What I never saw coming was how fast he improved as a hitter from a year ago. The dude hit .391 with a .594 slugging percentage, that is ridiculous. Rutschman permanently placed himself into the elite tier of all players in college baseball this season.
JS: I’ve got to give it to Trevor Larnach this season. His ability to generate runs has powered the Beaver offense through Nick Madrigal’s injury and the inability to find a third pitcher. It’s going to be awhile before Corvallis sees another player with 64 RBI. I’d also give it up to Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel for being so effective on the mound, but Larnach has been something special.
JL: I can’t decide between Trevor Larnach and Adley Rutschman, so I’ll combine them and say Tradley Rutschnach. In all seriousness, I think I have to give it to Rutschman. He’s the most complete guy I’ve seen play catcher in a minute. He can throw, he can hit, he’s got fantastic reflexes. This team would not be the #3 overall seed without him.
What was the high point for this team this season?
MR: Taking the series against the No. 2 ranked Stanford Cardinals. It was the biggest series the Beavs had played in Goss stadium in quite some time and they did not disappoint.
RP: I’m going to go with the 2-game series against Missouri State. The Beavs went into a ranked opponent’s home after losing the series against Arizona and absolutely pummeled the Bears. It was a massive series because Oregon State was able to bounce back from a hard series loss to convincingly beat a quality team.
JS: After dropping series to Arizona and Utah, it really felt like the Beavers were no longer a top team. The climb back up to that level took awhile, but the moment I felt like it was happening was game 3 of the series against Arizona State. After splitting the first two games, Oregon State really needed a win, and the team came together to get one in the grittiest way possible. That’s when I knew we were back.
JL: All great moments guys. But for me, while it may not have had that much real significance, it was watching them beat the living daylights out of San Diego. The total run count on those two games was 32-12. 32 RUNS. IN TWO GAMES. As a lover of offensive baseball, I got my money’s worth from the Beavs’ batting in that series.
What was the low point?
MR: Losing the series to Utah (16-39). The Beavers allowed 24 runs over the three-game series and the series became a blemish on an otherwise stellar regular-season.
RP: Yeah, I’m with Marcus on this one. Losing the series to Utah stings badly now that we’re looking back on the season. Utah is not a good team, and for them to win the series against us definitely hurts to think about.
JS: For me, it was when Nick Madrigal went down right before the season started. With the starting rotation up in the air and our best batter down, my doubts about getting back to Omaha had never been stronger.
JL: OSU tied against Washington State back in the first week of May after the game got called due to weather. That was pretty infuriating. I mean...it’s a tie...in baseball...that should be against the Geneva Convention.
Based on how this regular season went, what player are you most excited to see develop going forward?
MR: Kevin Abel. I’ve got a soft spot for the freshman pitcher and think he deserves the Sunday starting pitcher spot. He’s got electric stuff and just needs to hone in on his command a bit.
RP: Again, I agree with Marcus, Abel has shown glimpses of greatness over the course of the season. Sure, he’s had his mishaps, but he’s still in the phase of relying on arm strength instead of location. That worked in high school, but not in college. Once he learns to rely on his stuff, not just his arm strength and gains command, watch out.
JS: Let’s make it 3 for 3. I think Abel is the most important player from a developmental perspective for the Beavers. If he can step up his game and became another of the elite pitchers Beaver fans have gotten used to seeing over the past couple seasons, it’ll be huge for the team.
JL: I’m going to group Abel in with Chamberlain and say the future’s bright with this pitching group. They just need to get it a bit more under control. Also, keep in mind that Rutschman is still just a sophomore. He can get EVEN BETTER you guys.
.@BeaverBaseball's freshman pitcher Kevin Abel threw 6 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball out of the bullpen to help Oregon State get the 4-3 win in Tuesday's Civil War. #GoBeavs pic.twitter.com/AKN5aVWFMn— Jonathan Style (@JonathanRStyle) May 2, 2018
What do you think is this team’s biggest weakness heading into the postseason?
MR: This team doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses, but I’m always worried the bats will go cold on the biggest stage. They seem to have a knack for getting hits but not always turning those hits into runs. Also, Heimlich and Fehmel have been fantastic but they’ve struggled to find a consistent third pitcher.
RP: It has to be finding a reliable third pitcher. Heimlich and Fehmel have been an incredible 1-2 punch for Oregon State, but the #3 has been a massive crutch for the Beavers. Abel has shown glimpses of being a reliable third option, but he has collapsed at times throughout the year. If Oregon State wants to make themselves a complete team ready for a championship, then a quality third pitcher is necessary.
JS: No real weaknesses, so I’ll just say consistency. All of the options we’ve tried as a third starter have shown promise, but then they’ll get rattled and lose control. Our offense has been just about as impressive as it’s ever been, but then the bats will just go quiet.
JL: I agree with Ross in that a reliable third starter would definitely come in handy. Six of Oregon State’s ten losses and their one tie came on the third day of a series. They just need someone who can give them that extra oomph when Bryce Fehmel or Luke Heimlich isn’t out there.
A fun one: If you could give any past OSU player one extra year of eligibility starting now, who would it be?
MR: Pitchers are usually the most valuable players especially in postseason play, but I’ve got to go with Jacoby Ellsbury. He’d be awesome to watch.
RP: Since completing the starting rotation is a big need of this team, I would vote to bring back Josh Osich. He has been a quality pitcher for the Giants who would put the current Beaver rotation over the top. Matt Boyd was also a name I thought long and hard about, too.
JS: We need that third pitcher, and I always really wanted to see Andrew Moore get a championship. Moore, Heimlich, and Fehmel would be a hell of a lineup, and I think that would get us back on top.
JL: Like I said, I like offense. So I say get K.J. Harrison back in here and let him hit a few more dingers in a Beaver uniform.