Week 11 SEC Baseball Power Rankings: Vols, Hogs ... and who else?
With a mere 3 weeks of regular season play left, the SEC picture is very clear in the East (UT and then everybody else) and remains crowded in the West. Here’s how they stack up:
14. Kentucky (24-20, 7-14)
Kentucky is tied for the worst record in the league, but Mizzou won its series and Ole Miss gave Arkansas a tremendous battle. So, by virtue of losing their series to a Florida team that is only a game out of the league cellar, the Wildcats fall to the bottom of the pack.
13. Ole Miss (24-19, 7-14)
On the one hand, the Rebels still have way too much talent to be ranked this low. On the other hand, the teams that might have competed for ranking this low mostly had very good weeks. The Rebels are still 2 games in the West basement with 9 SEC games left. The home series with Mizzou is definitely their best chance to gain ground, as it is followed by a weekend at LSU and then hosting a ranked Texas A&M squad to finish.
12. Missouri (24-17, 7-14)
The Tigers won their series with Mississippi State and thus pulled even with the Rebels and Wildcats for the last spot in the conference. One of those teams will end up making the SEC Tournament in Hoover. The Tigers finish with a trip to Oxford, a home series with Florida, and then a trip to Georgia. Next weekend will lift the Tigers or Rebels into better position to play in Hoover.
11. Alabama (25-20, 9-12)
Yes, the Tide take a tumble after getting swept by South Carolina. Alabama finishes with 3 consecutive ranked SEC squads — home against LSU, at Auburn, and then home against Arkansas. That’s a tough finish for a now-fading Tide squad that went into the Carolina series at .500 and in the thick of the league race but now sits 3 games back of the 2nd-place pile-up.
10. Mississippi State (25-20, 9-12)
Sure, the Bulldogs have the same record as the Tide. And they did just lose a series to Missouri. Their advantage over Alabama is hosting Florida this coming weekend. If the Bulldogs can’t gain some ground on the Tide (and potentially move into 5th in the West), then the ending isn’t pretty — with a series at A&M and then a series hosting Tennessee.
9. South Carolina (22-20, 9-12)
Yes, the same Gamecocks that have lingered near the bottom of the league are steadily in the middle of the pack. First, they swept Alabama, which certainly didn’t hurt. And their remaining schedule isn’t too bad — sure, they have to go to A&M next weekend. But after that, they’ll finish by hosting Kentucky and playing Florida. If Carolina can avoid a sweep in College Station, a .500 league season could still be in play.
8. Florida (25-18, 8-13)
Yes, the Gators bested a bad Kentucky team. They are still just a single game out of the SEC basement, but they also will finish at Mississippi State, at Missouri, and then at home against South Carolina. Like USC, they can gain a couple games on a pretty mediocre East division and put themselves in play to surprise some people in Hoover — if not beyond.
7. Vanderbilt (29-13, 10-11)
Not only did Vandy lose another series and drop below .500 in league play, but they finish by going to Georgia, playing at Arkansas, and then hosting LSU. The last losing SEC season from Vandy came in 2009, with 5 College World Series appearances between then and now. But Tim Corbin might have to pull a rabbit out of his hat to avoid one this year.
6. LSU (29-14, 12-9)
The No. 20 Tigers took down Georgia in a big-time series victory to pull into the 2nd-place tie in the West. They finish with a trio of winnable series foes — at Bama, home against Ole Miss and at Vandy. The Tigers are in the top half of the league in hitting and pitching, and if their pitching staff can keep it up, the big bats will put LSU in the picture to host an NCAA regional.
5. Texas A&M (27-15, 12-9)
Jim Schlossnagle’s team has come on like gangbusters in the West and find themselves tied for 2nd, still within range of Arkansas coming down the league’s stretch. The No. 14 Aggies haven’t lost a series in a month, and they get to finish their schedule by hosting South Carolina and Mississippi State and then playing a final series at Ole Miss.
4. Auburn (31-14, 12-9)
Yes, the No. 21 Tigers lost their series with Tennessee. But they won a game in Knoxville, were smack in the middle of the finale, and didn’t go down easily, which is something not many teams can claim. A big series at home against Arkansas is coming up. If Auburn could pull that one out, they finish by hosting Bama and traveling to Kentucky — and the Tigers could manage to snag that SEC West crown.
3. Georgia (30-14, 12-9)
No. 22 Georgia dropped its series to LSU but still has a 2-game lead on Vandy for 2nd place in the East (although UT is almost officially out of reach now). The Bulldogs’ league-worst 7.03 ERA in league play is concerning, particularly in their trip to Knoxville in 2 weeks. That falls in between very winnable series matchups at home with Vandy and Mizzou, so UGA shouldn’t be going anywhere in the league standings, but getting Jonathan Cannon ready to roll would be pivotal.
2. Arkansas (34-10, 14-7)
No. 5 Arkansas remains 2 games up on the 3-team pack of 2nd-place followers, hoping to extend its edge at Auburn this coming weekend. If Arkansas wins that series, with remaining matchups at home against Vandy and at Bama, they can lock down the SEC West. That said, ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson said after the Hogs pulled off a close series with Ole Miss that he didn’t see much difference in the two teams offensively. The Razorbacks are 11th in the SEC in runs scored in league play … but they’re also 2nd in the league in ERA in those games, and it will be the pitching staff that will have to carry them down the stretch.
1. Tennessee (40-4, 19-2)
With a 7-game lead in the East with 9 games to play, the No. 1 Vols have all but locked up a top seed and a regional hosting spot. That said, Auburn gave them perhaps their toughest series of the season to date. It’s all about the postseason at this point.