Week 12 SEC Baseball Power Rankings: A week of chaos changes pecking order
The 2022 version of the SEC may not overwhelm college baseball the way the 2021 version did. Advocates for the SEC would say the toss-up nature of the league is due to balance — detractors would say it’s parity. But our dilemma is trying to actually rank an unrankable league. Seriously, 9 of the 14 SEC teams are somewhere between 10-14 and 14-10. An extra-base hit here and there, a double-play turned or missed, it’s the difference between being in competition for a bye in Hoover and trying to make sure you’ll have a place in the NCAA Tournament field. But the job here is the same — here’s your SEC power rankings heading into the next-to-last weekend of the regular season.
14. Missouri (25-20, 7-17)
The Tigers have been out of the cellar for awhile, but with 2 weekends left, they find themselves a full 2 games out of 13th place. Getting swept by an Ole Miss team that entered the weekend with the same 7 conference wins as the Tigers doesn’t help, either.
13. Mississippi State (25-23, 9-15)
The Bulldogs likewise were swept — in their case at home against Florida. MSU has fought doggedly despite a ton of injuries and bad luck, but down the season’s stretch, they seem to be running completely out of gas. State finishes the league slate with a series at A&M and then at home against Tennessee. An NCAA spot seems all but guaranteed to be out of reach for the 2021 College World Series champions.
12. Alabama (26-22, 10-14)
The Tide lost a tough series to LSU, and their remaining matchups (at Auburn, home against Arkansas) are pretty brutal. Alabama really needs to win either series to feel good about their NCAA Tournament situation.
11. Ole Miss (27-19, 10-14)
The good news for the Rebels was a sweep of Missouri that got them out of the West basement. The bad news is that their remaining SEC games are at LSU and then at home against Texas A&M. The Rebels are still on the outside looking into the NCAA Tournament field.
10. Kentucky (26-21, 9-15)
Yes, Kentucky was in last place. But beating Tennessee in a series has to leave the Wildcats with some significant positive mojo. Kentucky travels to South Carolina next in a series that will improve the position of one team and pretty much decimate the other.
9. South Carolina (24-22, 10-14)
Speaking of the Gamecocks, here they sit, a game ahead of Kentucky, but also 1 behind Florida and 2 behind Vandy. Carolina will finish SEC play by hosting Kentucky and playing at Florida. Anywhere between 2nd and 6th in the East is still very much in play for Carolina.
8. Florida (29-18, 11-13)
The Gators gained ground on the East by sweeping Mississippi State. They could well have more surprises up their sleeves, as they finish at Missouri and then at home against South Carolina. A 4-2 or 5-1 mark in that span could well leave Florida finishing 2nd in the East.
7. Vanderbilt (31-15, 12-12)
Vandy won a big series at Georgia to get back to .500 and just a game behind the Bulldogs for 2nd in the East. That said, No. 25 Vandy finishes with a series at Arkansas and then at home against LSU, so the Commodores will have to be sharp or end up in the lower half of the East.
6. Georgia (32-16, 13-11)
The Bulldogs slide a few spots after dropping a series at home to Vandy. With a trip to Knoxville upcoming, Georgia could well slide to 3rd or 4th in the East before finishing with a series at home against Mizzou. The pitching has to step up if the Bulldogs want to claim an NCAA regional hosting spot.
5. Auburn (32-16, 13-11)
The No. 21 Tigers have the same record as Georgia and also lost their series, a tough one against Arkansas that could have put Auburn squarely in the running for the West’s top spot. The good news is that Auburn finishes by hosting Alabama and then playing at Kentucky. If the Tigers can get to 17 SEC wins, they should feel good about hosting a regional.
4. LSU (32-15, 14-10)
The Tigers won their series at Bama and now will finish with a home series against Ole Miss and then at Vandy. Still 2 games behind Arkansas, the West crown might be out of reach, but LSU will likely finish SEC play in the Top 25 and in the thick of a battle for an NCAA regional hosting selection.
3. Texas A&M (30-16, 14-10)
The No. 12 Aggies are also 2 games back of Arkansas, but they get the advantage of finishing the season with the Mississippi schools, at home against State and then at Ole Miss. The Aggies can get to 18 SEC wins, and that would get the Aggies a good seeding in Hoover and an NCAA hosting bid, as well as a likely top-20 ranking.
2. Arkansas (36-12, 16-8)
Having survived a very tough series with Auburn, No. 5 Arkansas finishes at home against Vandy and then at Alabama. The Razorbacks have all but locked up the West division, a top-10 ranking and a regional hosting spot. The Hogs’ tendency toward winning close is either a great sign for tight postseason play or a dangerous harbinger of a potential upset.
1. Tennessee (42-6, 20-4)
No big deal that Tennessee finally lost a series to … what? Kentucky? Yes, the homer disappeared for a couple of games and suddenly UT looked shockingly mortal. They slipped to No. 2 in Baseball America’s weekly Top 25 after holding down the top spot for much of the year. The Vols will host Georgia and then travel to Mississippi State. The only real mission? Get things trending upward before the postseason because the big picture is still sterling for the Vols.
Arkansas baseball cover photo via Twitter @RazorbackBSB