Week 7 SEC Baseball Power Rankings: We know who's No. 1. After that? Chaos
The race to the top of the SEC has gotten crystal clear. It’s Tennessee’s world and until somebody knocks them off, that isn’t going to change. Arkansas solidified its hold on the No. 2 spot, but after that? Chaos, sheer chaos. We’ll try to sort it out on our weekly SEC baseball Power Rankings.
14. South Carolina (13-14, 3-6)
The Gamecocks followed an upset series win over Vanderbilt by losing to Presbyterian and then dropping a series to Mizzou. With the SEC’s only losing record, they’re an easy pick for the bottom spot and most unpredictable team.
13. Missouri (17-8, 3-6)
The Tigers have eclipsed last season’s win total already, and could well be better than 13th. The problem is that between No. 13 and No. 2, it’s all very much up for grabs. If the Tigers can round up some pitching, they can finish in the top half of the East.
12. Texas A&M (16-11, 4-5)
The Aggies followed losing a series to Auburn with losing a series to Alabama. It’s hard to finish anywhere but the cellar of the West when you’re dropping two straight weekend series matchups with a couple of the expected bottom-dwellers of the division.
11. Alabama (17-12, 4-5)
The Tide beat A&M and so moved up 2 spots and into 11th place. If the Tide can keep their offense rolling, they’re entirely capable of ending up 4th or so in the West.
10. Kentucky (18-11, 3-6)
Kentucky went 1-2 against Ole Miss, and while they lost the series, they had two straight well-pitched games on Friday and Saturday. That said, their series win last weekend over Georgia looks a more impressive because of what the Dawgs just did …
9. Mississippi State (17-12, 4-5)
The Bulldogs dropped their weekend series with Arkansas but won Sunday to avoid the sweep. Standings-wise, MSU is part of that massive 3rd-place logjam in the West. In the big picture, they’d still be on the very edge of the NCAA Tournament picture, but it’s still early.
8. Florida (18-10, 3-6)
Meanwhile, the Gators absolutely got torn apart by Georgia in a weekend sweep. UF might have the best starter in the league in Hunter Barco and about the 12th-best pitching staff in the SEC aside from Barco. UF has to find pitching depth and manufacture enough runs to play from ahead. It’s not impossible for this bunch, but this is a bad, bad start.
7. LSU (19-9, 4-5)
The Tigers were bested by a gritty Auburn team that did enough things to win a 1-run and a 2-run game to take the series. LSU’s bats will keep them in any game, and their pitching has surprised. But they’re a sieve on defense and have to play better in close games.
6. Auburn (19-9, 5-4)
Auburn? In 2nd in the West? Yep, after winning their 2nd consecutive weekend series, the Tigers are the SEC’s current surprise team — and now ranked No. 25 in Baseball America’s weekly poll. And hey, with the West teams beating up each other randomly, teams that do the small things well could flourish. Auburn wasn’t exactly a preseason favorite in the West, but other than Arkansas, they really could be the next best team in perhaps the sport’s most competitive division.
5. Vanderbilt (20-7, 4-5)
Yes, the No. 19 ‘Dores got swept at home by UT. But it’s less about the result — not entirely unexpected — than that UT outpitched, outhit and generally outclassed the Vandy Boys. UT looked like a team ready for Omaha. Vandy looked like a team that would rather enjoy a few Omaha steaks.
4. Ole Miss (19-8, 4-5)
The No. 7 Rebels won their series with Kentucky, but they’re also a game behind Auburn and in the thick of the 5-team pileup for 3rd-place in the SEC West. The Rebels have plenty of talent, but they also lost to Auburn by 14 runs and to Kentucky by 7. There’s plenty of work left for Ole Miss ahead of June.
3. Georgia (22-6, 6-3)
Georgia swept Florida and showed a devastatingly good offense, which certainly would complement one of the strongest groups of arms in the league. With Vandy 5 games behind UT, Georgia is the only team left with the possibility of competing with the Vols in the East. The Dawgs are ranked No. 17 nationally and won’t face the Vols until the next to last weekend of SEC play, but that series is one to circle.
2. Arkansas (21-5, 7-2)
The Razorbacks won their series with Mississippi State to stay in control of the West. They lead lead Auburn by 2 games and everybody else by 3. Could this be the opposite of last season, when the Razorbacks were the clear SEC top dog throughout most of the season only to stumble late and open the field for teams that were a little more up-and-down in the regular season? Time will tell.
1.Tennessee (27-1, 9-0)
No. 1 in the SEC, No. 1 in the nation. The only thing to not like about this UT team is that we’re not 2 months later in the calendar, because it’s hard to imagine anything could put UT on firmer ground then than they’re standing on now.