Sunday's SEC baseball takeaways: Mississippi State's the new favorite, Texas A&M's Will Frizzell on fire
Chris Lee • 5/9/2021 in Baseball
Mississippi State becomes the favorite to win the regular season, while A&M's Frizzell has a weekend to remember
Will Frizzell photo courtesy of Texas A&M
Mississippi State is now the regular-season title favorite
Coming into this weekend, the SEC's regular-season title chase looked like a six-team race between Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Florida. But It was Mississippi State that left the weekend as the favorite after the Bulldogs scored a big 2-1 series win at South Carolina.
Why the Bulldogs? Well, let's look at those five teams, their records now and what's ahead:
Arkansas: 17-7 (at Tennessee, Florida)
Tennessee: 17-7 (Arkansas, at South Carolina)
Vanderbilt: 16-7 (at Ole Miss, Kentucky)
MSU: 16-8 (Missouri, at Alabama)
Florida: 15-9 (Georgia, at Arkansas)
Ole Miss, 14-10 (Vanderbilt, at Georgia)
You can now eliminate Ole Miss and Florida as realistic options. The Rebels particularly have to be kicking themselves after losing two of three at Texas A&M, which was 5-16 coming into the weekend and had lost its last five weekend series.
Vanderbilt's game with Alabama was rained out and while the Commodores' path to a title isn't impossible, the missed opportunity for an extra win makes it a little tougher for Vandy to come out on top.
That is especially true because Mississippi State is now a half-game ahead of the Commodores and State's final two series are against teams that are a combined 16-31, whereas Vandy's opponents are 25-23.
The problem for MSU's competitors is that Missouri is as close to an automatic series sweep as you'll find as the Tigers have lost nine in a row and 15 of their last 16, though four of those losses have come by two runs and two by one run.
As for Arkansas and Tennessee, it's going to be tough for either of those squads unless one sweeps the other when the teams meet in Knoxville next week, especially since neither has an easy series to finish the regular season.
Let's not crown the Bulldogs just yet, but if they can sweep Missouri next weekend (which isn't unlikely), they'll have 19 wins. That would give State a great shot to win the league outright or at least share heading to the final weekend.
NOTE: A previous version of this article credited MSU with an extra win; we regret the error and have corrected it.
Frizzell's huge weekend
There hasn't been much to cheer about in College Station this baseball season, but that's not first baseman Will Frizzell's fault. Frizzell mashed an incredible five home runs against Ole Miss this weekend, also adding a single, a double and a walk in the Aggies' series win.
Frizzell won't be the league's Player of the Year because A&M hasn't accomplished much, but he might make an interesting case if that were different. In league games, he ranks 11th in on-base percentage (.430), first in slugging (.763) and eighth in average (.366) while tying for second in homers (11) and RBIs (27). He leads the league in slugging in all games (.699) while ranking 11th in on-base average (.438).
Two aces sidelined
After missing a weekend start in April, Ole Miss's Gunnar Hoglund came out of Friday's start vs. Texas A&M with forearm stiffness after just 18 pitches.
Vanderbilt's Jack Leiter also missed Saturday's scheduled start with Alabama due to health concerns.Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin for a weekend of rest. After being nearly invincible, Leiter gave up eight home runs in his last three starts.
The two teams face each other next weekend.
Six in position to host
The NCAA is expected to announce to candidates to host 16 regionals. It seems likely that Arkansas (RPI: 1), MSU (2), Vanderbilt (6), Tennessee (8), Ole Miss (11) and Florida (18) will be among those 20.
It'll be interesting to see what the committee does with South Carolina (12). The Gamecocks' RPI is easily worthy but Carolina is .500 in the SEC (12-12) and teams with that conference profile never host.
Will the committee extend a lifeline to Carolina and allow it a chance to finish strong and perhaps earn a shot later with a strong finish, or instead award a spot to a team that's accumulated a better conference mark to date?