Week 8 SEC Baseball Power Rankings: Vols, Hogs and then draw them from a hat
At this point, nearly 2 months into SEC baseball, every week is a new season. Tennessee on top, Mizzou and Carolina on the bottom, those are the constants. In between, Ole Miss and Vandy have gone from top-10 teams nationally to sub-.500 records in league play. Alabama and Auburn are up. Here’s the current ranking of where the league stands. Don’t blink or it’ll be entirely different.
14. South Carolina (15-16, 4-8)
Carolina lost its series to Georgia and, despite winning series against Texas and Vanderbilt, is still the only SEC team with a losing record. That’ll keep them in the basement.
13. Missouri (18-11, 3-9)
The Tigers have the worst league record in the SEC, but then, playing a series in Knoxville will do that to … well, pretty much the entire nation. Mizzou stays ahead of Carolina off the improvement from last season. (Plus, the Tigers won 2 of 3 from the Gamecocks the previous weekend.)
12. Kentucky (19-13, 4-8)
Kentucky lost its series to Texas A&M and falls a couple of spots this week, largely because the teams ahead of them did some crazy things. Still, the Wildcats are sitting on the outside of the postseason line looking in — albeit with plenty of SEC play left to change their situation.
11. Mississippi State (18-15, 4-8)
The Bulldogs were swept by LSU and have struggled through a brutal season full of injuries and missed opportunities. State is 13th in the SEC in batting average (.270) and 13th in ERA (5.25). At some point, it’s time to stop deferring to their status as defending champs and recognize that the rest of the West is coming to play. Maybe this is the time.
10. Ole Miss (19-12, 4-8)
That point about the reality overshadowing the rankings and tradition is equally true for the Rebels. It’s not that long ago that Ole Miss was ranked No. 1 in the country. The Rebels started red-hot on offense, but they are 12th in the SEC in batting average. Meanwhile, their talented pitching staff 9th in the league in ERA. The Rebels’ prognosis for bouncing back is much better than the Bulldogs, but until the bouncing starts, here they are.
9. Texas A&M (19-12, 6-6)
The Aggies moved up just because the Mississippi schools had an 0-6 weekend of SEC play. Texas A&M took care of business in winning its series against Kentucky. Can they stay ahead of the Mississippi schools for the long-haul? Maybe, maybe not. But for the moment, they belong right here.
8. Florida (21-11, 5-7)
Florida’s slide to the bottom of the SEC was suddenly stopped with a series win over Arkansas. Florida’s home run power and the arm of Hunter Barco will keep them competitive. Finishing 3rd in the East is still in play, but the Gators have to get more consistent.
7. Vanderbilt (22-9, 5-7)
Vandy 7th? Well, how about Vandy below .500 in league play, 7 games back in the division standings a dozen games into league play? The Commodores dropped their series to Auburn and have fallen out of the Top 25. Their pitching staff is still very good, if not elite. But the offense, .303 batting average aside, has just been middle of the pack.
6. LSU (23-9, 7-5)
The Tigers swept Mississippi State and find themselves back in Baseball America’s Top 25 (at No. 24). LSU has been up and down, but between their talent-filled lineup and a developing pitching staff, the Tigers are — UT aside — the league’s must-see team.
5. Alabama (21-12, 7-5)
Alabama? Yeah, swept Ole Miss in Oxford and has won 5 straight games in SEC play. Will this be where the Tide end up? The temptation is to say no, but with a 3-game lead over the defending champ and arguably the league’s preseason favorite, it’s time to respect these guys … particularly if they show well against UT this weekend.
4. Auburn (22-10, 7-5)
The No. 17 Tigers might be a surprise, but it’s a surprise with some staying power. They took down Vanderbilt last week and Sonny DiChiara is the surprise of the season. Good at Samford before he transferred, DiChiara is now great — and is slaying SEC pitching. The feel-good guy writing the feel-good story in Auburn gets the Tigers how high? This high. With Mississippi State and South Carolina coming up next, Auburn’s good times might be just starting.
3. Georgia (24-8, 8-4)
The No. 12 Bulldogs won their series with South Carolina, and find themselves as the only team within 7 games of UT in the East. Despite being in the lower echelon of the SEC in power numbers and tying for last in stolen bases, Georgia’s offense puts up just enough support to keep winning. Jonathan Cannon will be a big advantage in a short series in Omaha.
2. Arkansas (23-7, 8-4)
The No. 7 Razorbacks lost their series to Florida but remain on top of the incredibly up-for-grabs West. A year ago, Arkansas sat where Tennessee sits. The question with this Arkansas team is whether they can kick it in late and wind up doing something in Omaha while everybody else is distracted by Tennessee.
1. Tennessee (31-1, 12-0)
No. 1 in the country. No. 1 in the SEC. Tops in hitting, tops in pitching, working on a 23-game winning streak, this ranking is completely inarguable. At this point, it’s not clear how many games UT would need to lose to slide off the top spot. But the whole topic seems academic.