Michigan Baseball Midseason Update

Posted on Posted in Baseball

After that Tigers walk off, I really felt like writing about some baseball. Since I don’t have an outlet to write about the Tigers, I figured now would be a good time to update how the Maize and Blue baseballers are doing.

Follow me through the jump to check it out:

Disclaimer: My background is as a player, as a coach, and as a scout. I love statistics, and have embraced advanced statistics fully, but at the same time I’m not really used to using stats to evaluate players. I don’t believe in “box score scouting”, so I’ll be able to provide a much better review of this team when I’m able to see them in person. But this should provide a decent snapshot in time, anyways.

Michigan Baseball heads into tonight’s game vs. Central Michigan (Fire Up Chips!!) with a record of 12-15-1, and they sit at an even 3-3 in B1G Conference play. After a rough start to season which saw them go 2-8-1 through their first 11 games, Michigan has righted the ship, going 10-7 in their last 17. They’re coming off of a series win vs. a solid club in Iowa, and will host Minnesota this coming weekend.

Offense:

The issue so far with this team, as was pretty much expected, has been an inconsistent offense. Batting average isn’t a very good statistic, but still, Michigan is only hitting .239 as a team, which just isn’t very good. The club has some consistent performers, but the issue with that is that a few of them have been consistently bad. Couple that with a few injuries (nothing major, thankfully), and the team is just now starting to find a rhythm.

Notable Performers:

OF Jackson Glines: .324/.434/.471/.905. 9 2B, 3 3B, 0 HR, 19 RBI, 19 R, 12 BB, 13 K, 6 SB

Glines has been the most consistent offensive threat on the season, starting as the leadoff hitter and eventually moving down to the #3 spot in Bakich’s lineup due to his run production. He makes hard contact despite not having a ton of power, and his speed allows him to turn base hits into extra bases. Most importantly, he doesn’t strike out all that much, and takes walks, which has lead to him having the highest On-Base Percentage (OBP) on the team at .434. I’d assume that as other guys start to pick it up more, Glines will move back to the top of the order, but things are going pretty well right now with him batting 3rd.

SS Travis Maezes: .302/.388/.472/.860. 8 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 20 R, 12 BB, 15 K, 9 SB

Maezes’ line looks pretty similar to Glines’, with the notable exception being that Glines has 50 more points of OBP, in part because he’s been hit by a pitch a team-leading 8 times. Anyways, Maezes has moved to the top of the order, and has performed well. Like Glines, he doesn’t strike out and takes walks, but he adds a bit more over-the-fence power and straight line speed. If Glines is kept in the 3rd spot, Maezes is an excellent leadoff option as well.

DH/1B Kyle Jusick: .297/.396/.319/.715. 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 15 RBI, 8 R, 13 BB, 14 K.

Jusick is a guy who I expect to see more power from, but the fact of the matter is that he’s getting on base, driving in runs, and not striking out. He’s been a fixture in the middle of the lineup since the start of the season, and although the power hasn’t shown up like I believe it will, he’s been very good.

OF Jackson Lamb: .218/.302/.345/.647. 4 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 9 R, 7 BB, 14 K, 4 SB

I want to preface this by saying that Jackson Lamb is as good a baseball prospect to come Michigan in a long time. He has a very, very high upside not only as a position player, but as a pitcher as well. That being said, it’s really freaking hard to hit. It just is. It’s insanely hard to hit well, and even harder as a true freshman playing in a major conference. Lamb has gotten dinged up a bit this year, but I think he’s back to 100% healthy, and should pick it up soon. Not to mention, he’s been outstanding defensively in right field, making 2 legitimate, full-extension “web gems” out there.

Starting Pitching:

LHP Trent Szkutnik: 0-3, 2.80 ERA, 35 1/3 IP, 36 H, 16 BB, 27 K, 1.47 WHIP, .277 BAA

Szkutnik has had a decent season so far, operating as Michigan’s Saturday starter. The ERA is nice and all, but the 1.47 WHIP is troublesome, as is the .277 BAA. He’s only striking out about 7 guys per 9, which isn’t “bad”, but I’d like to see him miss more bats, especially since he’s walking over 4 per 9 and allowing more than a hit per inning as well. You can have (some) sustained success with those numbers so long as you’re able to get a strikeout when needed, so I’m hoping that he’ll find his strikeout pitch as the season wears on.

RHP Ben Ballantine: 2-1, 3.00 ERA, 36 IP, 25 H, 12 BB, 33 K, 1.03 WHIP, .192 BAA

Ballantine has been very, very good this season as the staff ace and 5th year senior. He doesn’t overpower hitters, but he has good command and is able to use his off speed to keep hitters off balance. The 1.03 WHIP is a very good stat, but more telling to me is the nearly 3:1 K:BB ratio, which I always like to see when looking at pitcher stats.

LHP Evan Hill: 1-3, 4.24 ERA, 40 1/3 IP, 38 H, 15 BB, 27 K, 1.31 WHIP, .250 BAA

Evan Hill is a bit of a wildcard, being that what he is presently and what he could be in the future are very different things. I saw Hill quite a bit when he was a senior in high school, being that he went to Mt. Pleasant High School, a full 1 minute drive from CMU’s campus. I umpired a few of his games during the summer of 2012, and scouted him at other times. He was able to overpower high school hitters with high 80’s heat from the left side and a power curveball, but as he has discovered, that doesn’t fly in B1G Baseball. He’s had to learn to pitch to contact, keep the ball down, sequence his pitches differently, and become a completely different pitcher. That being said, he still has tremendous upside. His frame and mechanics offer projection on his fastball, and when he’s able to combine power stuff with newfound pitchability, he could be special. If you have a chance this season, go watch Evan Hill pitch. When he’s on, he’s fun to watch.

Bullpen:

RHP Jacob Cronenworth: 2-0, 2.38 ERA, 11 1/3 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 15 K, 1.32 WHIP, .268 BAA, 5 Saves

Cronenworth, in addition to hitting in the 2 spot and playing 3B/1B on a daily basis, serves as the team’s closer. He struggled at the beginning of the season, blowing a save or two, but has settled in nicely as of late and has been pretty much lockdown in the 9th inning for the Wolverines. He’s an interesting player to track, because he has draft potential as a hitter and a fielder. (By the way, although I didn’t highlight him above, Cronenworth has a .678 OPS this season, which isn’t great but it has been climbing in recent weeks.)

LHP Logan McAnallen: 1-3, 3.95 ERA, 27 1/3 IP, 30 H, 19 BB, 26 K, 1.80 WHIP, .278 BAA

McAnallen is the designated “swingman” on the Michigan staff, working as the 4th starter (who usually starts weekday games), and pitching out of the bullpen on the weekends. His WHIP is atrocious, but I don’t need to tell you that. He has, in my view, one of the hardest jobs of any pitching staff, and that’s having to switch between starting and relieving every week. He’ll be starting tonight against Central Michigan, but I believe that as the season wears on and he gets more accustomed to his role, his numbers will start to present better.

RHP Mac Lozer and LHP Brett Adcock:
Combined 21 1/3 IP, 2.55 ERA, 24 H, 9 BB, 20 K, 1.55 WHIP.

I put these two together because they’re both true freshmen, logging legitimate innings in the Michigan bullpen. While Lozer has been more effective, he has thrown less than Adcock, who seems to be the first lefty out of the ‘pen on most nights. Lozer looks like a guy who will stick in the bullpen for his career, but Adcock seems to have starter potential in future seasons.

That’s it for now, folks. I’ll be back in a few weeks with another baseball update. Go Blue!!

Derek Devine
Institutional voice of Alma College during the day, Michigan fanatic at night. Taking TBHR to the next level one post at a time.