The Southeastern Conference could be the best in college baseball this season. It is most definitely the deepest conference in the D-1 game.
2015 Projected Standings (Previous Overall Record, Conference Record)
Florida (40-23, 21-9)
Vanderbilt (51-21, 17-13)
South Carolina (44-18, 18-12)
Tennessee (31-23, 12-18)
Kentucky (37-25, 14-16)
Georgia (26-29, 11-18)
Mizzou (20-33, 6-24)
Louisiana State (46-16, 17-11)
Mississippi (48-21, 19-11)
Alabama (37-24, 15-14)
Texas A&M (36-26, 14-16)
Mississippi State (39-24, 18-12)
Arkansas (40-25, 16-14)
Auburn (28-28, 10-20)
Depending on which poll you subscribe to (I am looking at the D1Baseball.com Poll), the SEC has three teams in the top 10 (#1 Vanderbilt, #2 Florida, #5 South Carolina, and #9 Louisiana State) with a grand total of eight teams in the top 25.
Reigning national champion, Vanderbilt, returns one of the nation’s best pitching staffs. Junior RHP Carson Fulmer (Lakeland, Fla) is coming off of a dominant season in 2014 in which he posted a 1.98 earned run average in 91 innings pitched. He also had 95 strikeouts to only 41 walks. Another junior RHP Walker Buehler (Lexington, Ky.) returns from a 12-2 campaign in which he posted 102.1 innings with 111 strikeouts and 31 walks. Also returning are standouts Dansby Swanson (JR INF Marietta, Ga.) who posted a .333 batting average with a .411 on base percentage last season. He is joined by Bryan Reynolds, who had 54 RBI and 53 runs scored, and Zander Wiel (RS-JR INF Murfreesboro, Tenn.) who led the team in home runs in 2014 with five.
The University of Florida welcomes back a ton of experience to Gainesville. Despite having such a young lineup, the Gators had the best conference record in the SEC last season. Some players to watch for from the Florida Gators include junior infielder Richie Martin (Brandon, Fla.) and junior outfielder Harrison Bader (Bronxville, NY). Like Vanderbilt, the pitching staff should be very strong this season as well. Despite Vanderbilt being the consensus number one to start the season, the Gators are the team that I believe will win the East in the regular season.
Louisiana State is a perennial powerhouse in the SEC, with six national championships (last in 2009) and 16 CWS trips (last 2013). Paul Mainieri always has a strong pitching staff, combined with some of the best power hitting in the country. The pitching staff might not be as strong as you usually see on weekends at Alex Box Stadium, but the hitting is every bit what the term guerrilla ball was meant for. LSU returns five of their top six hitters from 2014 highlighted by power hitting infielder Alex Bregman. Bregman had six homers a year ago to go along with 47 RBI. Righty Jared Poche’ (Lutcher, La) and southpaw Kyle Bouman (Ferguson, Mo.) will lead a pitching staff that I think could run away with the SEC West in 2015. Poche’ went 9-3 with a 2.45 earned run average in 2014.
The Rebels of Mississippi are coming off of a CWS trip in 2014 and they return a lot of production and innings from last season. Power hitter senior Sikes Orvis (Orlando, Fla. ) is returning after one of the single best power hitting seasons in 2014 with 14 home runs and 53 rbi’s. Also joining him will be sophomore Colby Bortles (Oviedo, Fla.) who had a .250 batting average with a .397 slugging percentage last season. The pitching staff will be led by junior LHP Christian Trent (Madisonville, La.) who had a perfect 9-0 record with a 2.05 era last season.
The SEC will have 80 games broadcast on the ESPN family of networks in 2015 (almost double that of last season) and the fans will have compelling baseball to watch all season long from the best conference in the country. Once again, the Southeastern Conference will be on display each week and the best of tomorrow’s major league players will be on display each weekend.
WHO GET’S IN?
Automatic Bid: Florida
National Seeds: (3) Florida, Vanderbilt, and LSU
Other Regional sites: South Carolina, Ole Miss
Other Regional Teams: Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Kentucky.