SEC baseball power rankings, March 17
William Drummond • 3/17/2022 in Baseball
Here's how we rank the SEC's 14 baseball teams heading into the first weekend of league play.
Enrique Bradfield Jr. photo courtesy of Vanderbilt athletics.
1. Ole Miss
The Rebels have played a modest schedule but boast a 13-3 record with four convincing series wins. They rank in the top four in the conference in both ERA and runs scored. What may be the deepest lineup in the league has vaulted Ole Miss to the top-ranked team in college baseball.
Vandy opened the season with a close series loss to a strong Oklahoma State club. Since then the ‘Dores have rattled off 13 straight wins behind arguably the best pitching in the league. They’ve allowed the fewest hits, and are consistently top three among a host of other categories while playing a tougher schedule than many.
The Razorbacks haven’t been the dominant team we saw in 2021, but that’s an awfully high bar to hold a team to. They’ve managed a 13-3 record to go alongside a No. 3 national ranking. While they did drop their toughest contest in non-confernce play, a single game against Stanford, they responded nicely and still posted a winning weekend as they’ve done each week. The offense hasn’t fully clicked yet but transfers Michael Turner and Chris Lanzilli are shouldering the load as familiar faces are getting back on track. All the while the question mark coming into the season, the pitching staff, has stepped up to the challenge.
Tony Vitello’s club lost a lot of experienced pieces off of last year’s team and was one of the unknowns coming into the 2022 campaign, but that hasn’t stopped them from exploding to a 15-1 start. The Vols have seemingly passed every test and then some. Newcomers Chase Burns, Chase Dollander and Drew Beam have been stellar on the mound, while Trey Lipscomb and Jared Dickey are at the top of the league's offensive categories.
The 13-4 Gators dropped their opening series of the season to Liberty, currently ranked #14, but have responded with a 12-2 mark since, highlighted by a series win at Miami. In addition to potential SEC Pitcher of the Year Hunter Barco, Brandon Sproat has had a strong start, giving UF one of the league’s better 1-2 punches on the mound. At the plate the Gators have done damage as well, led by the foursome of Sterlin Thompson, Jud Fabian, Colby Halter and Wyatt Langford.
The LSU offense has been as advertised through four weeks of play, having three players in the top 10 in the league in RBI, plus a host of other gaudy stats. In addition to the explosive offense, the Tigers’ Friday arm Blake Money has been, well, money. The righty has a 1.80 ERA and has confirmed the offseason hopes. The defense has been an achilies heel of sorts for LSU as it has a league-worst 29 errors, nine more than 13th place.
Georgia hasn’t woefully underperformed expectations, but it hasn’t exceeded them either. Touting a 13-3 record plus a top 20 ranking, the Bulldogs are about where we expected, however, they did lose their only true test, a series against rival Georgia Tech, rather convincingly. Jonathan Cannon has been of the SEC’s best, but the rest of the staff has yet to cement themselves as one of the top as many had thought they could.
8. Mississippi State
The Bulldogs in Starkville have been one of the bigger surprises in the league, but not for good reason. The defending national champs have played one of the toughest slates, but haven’t managed to win many of those quality tests as they sit at 10-7. Losing ace Landon Sims and closer Stone Simmons to Tommy John surgery likely affects the ceiling of this team but it’s not all bad. The State staff still leads the conference in strikeouts and several of its anchors in the lineup have begun showing glimpses of what they were expected to be offensively.
9. South Carolina
After a shaky start where both the pitching and hitting were tending towards the bottom of the league, the Gamecocks avoided a daunting hole with a series over top-ranked Texas. They’ll need to show it’s more than one good doubleheader, before moving up the polls, but it was a flash of what Carolina can do. Do-it-all freshman Michael Braswell has been white hot in his first month as a Gamecock, while they should receive an added boost once projected No. 2 starter Julian Bosnic is healthy.
The ‘Cats have been one of the more pleasant surprises among conference teams thus far as they’ve tallied a 14-4 record with four series wins, highlighted by the thrilling home series win over a ranked TCU club. Their offense has paved the way as it ranks second in runs scored. The downside is that Kentucky is last in ERA at 5.55.
Auburn is another squad that’s exceeded early expectations as Trace Bright and Joespeh Gonzalez have anchored the leagues 3rd lowest ERA. Meanwhile offensively one of the nation’s best kept secrets Sonny DiChiara and fellow transfer Blake Rambusch have paced the Tigers at the dish.
The 12-6 Crimson Tide have shown flashes but haven’t strung it all together yet. They’ve managed three series sweeps against lesser teams but are 0-4 in their four toughest tests. However, it’s not all bad as each of those games were close late, and the Tide have been in striking distance. Garrett McMillan has posted one of the stronger lines among starters with a 1.80 ERA across 25 innings.
13. Texas A&M
The Ags' first campaign under Jim Schlossnagle hasn’t gone according to plan through non-conference play. Having lost two of their four weekend series A&M is only 10-6 and has a league-worst .261 batting average.
Mizzou does have a very nice 12-2 record, but with the light slate it’s played that’s not as loud as it may be for others. While definitely an encouraging sign given last season, the Tigers will need to prove it against league competition in order to leap other clubs in the power rankings.