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Spence leads shakeup at the top of SEC hitter, position rankings

 Chris Lee   in Baseball

We've got a new No. 1 and a bunch of new names, too.

Hayden Dunhurst photo courtesy of Ole Miss athletics.

Here's our listing of the top 14 position players/hitters in the SEC heading into the midway point of conference play. In parenthesis is an estimate of how many runs each player has created, both overall and per 27 outs, per a Bill James formula. We also consider defense, strength of schedule and league stats in our ratings.

1. Liam Spence, Tennessee (34.1, 12.8): Leads the league in batting average (.463) and on-base percentage (.614) in league games.

2. Wes Clarke, South Carolina (33.4, 11.1): Has just been ordinary (.214/.370/.452) in league games, which is why he's no longer on top of this list.

3. Peyton Wilson, Alabama (32.9, 9.3): Steady second baseman and leadoff man is hitting .424/.466/.679 in SEC games.

4. Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss (27.0, 9.6): Has thrown out 9 of 32 runners, hit .348/.444/.565 in league games.

5. Nathan Hickey, Florida (33.6, 10.7): Needs to work on defense (thrown out one runner in 13 tries) but the bat's been special. 

6. Brady Allen, South Carolina (31.7, 9.3): Manned center field perfectly and has been the Gamecocks' best hitter (.321/.390/.717) in SEC games.

7. Connor Tate, Georgia (29.8, 10.1): Effort at Vandy earned him SEC, National Player of the Week honors.

8. Tre' Morgan, LSU (31.0, 10.0): Freshman his hitting .348/.426/.652 in SEC games.

9. Will Frizzell, TAMU (34.8, 10.0): It's come against the league's easiest schedule, but he's leading the SEC in runs created (and also hitting .391/.454/.696 in the league). 

10. Dylan Crews, LSU (32.7, 10.5): He's not hit as well in the SEC (.261/.333/425), but the freshman's still got an elite bat.

11. Tim Elko, Ole Miss (28.2, 10.6): He'll probably drop off the list next week as the missed games pile up, but he deserves some recognition for what he's done to this point. 

12. Christian Franklin, Arkansas (28.7, 8.7): Played an errorless center field while slugging .711 in league play.

13. Ryan Bliss, Auburn (25.5, 8.6): Fielding a solid shortstop while ranking 12th in the league in slugging (.618) in league games.

14. Dominic Keegan, Vanderbilt (27.9, 13.0): Has been the league's best hitter per plate appearance, but missed time and drop-off in league play (.261/.306/.470) keeps him further down this list.