This might be the best SEC baseball season ever, which is saying a lot.

This is the conference that sent 3 or more teams to the College World Series 11 times since 1990. This is the conference with more CWS appearances (103) than any other conference. This is the conference with at least 1 spot in 11 of the last 12 CWS finals. This is the conference with 6 of the last 11 CWS titles, including the most recent one in 2019. This is the conference with 2 all-SEC title games in the last 11 years.

You know, just like football.

This is also the conference with at least 1 top-10 draft pick in each of the last 7 years. This is the conference with multiple top-10 picks in the MLB Draft in 8 of the last 14 years.

So better? How could that happen?

Well, for starters, checking all of these boxes would do it:

  • At least 4 SEC teams in CWS (to match 2019)
  • All-SEC CWS final (to match 1997, 2011, 2017)
  • 4 top-10 draft picks (to match 2015, 2020)

None of those things seem too far off, though 1 is less realistic than the others (more on that later). Still, the SEC could very well have its best baseball season ever.

It helps that the SEC has 9 teams in the NCAA Tournament, which is set to begin Friday, June 4. Here are each of their seeds in their respective regionals:

  • No. 1 Arkansas
  • No. 1 Ole Miss
  • No. 1 Florida
  • No. 1 MSU
  • No. 1 Vanderbilt
  • No. 1 Tennessee
  • No. 2 South Carolina
  • No. 3 LSU
  • No. 3 Alabama

Yes, having a whopping 6 No. 1 seeds is huge. All of them are among the top 14 teams in the country. Having the most recent winner (Vandy) and the top overall team (Arkansas) only drives home that point. Even though we’ve only seen the No. 1 overall seed in the field win the tournament once since 1999, the SEC has plenty of legitimate candidates to get there.

That number matched the SEC’s 2019 total of 6 No. 1 seeds. If the SEC can repeat that 2019 season of sending 4 teams to Omaha, that’s really when the conversation can begin.

Alternatively, if the SEC were to fall short of that number, it can be overcome by having a 2017 repeat with an all-SEC final. Florida winning its first CWS title ever certainly helped the SEC’s baseball brand. That year, the SEC had 3 teams in the CWS.

Where the argument for 2017 as the SEC’s best baseball season ever loses some juice was the MLB Draft. Vandy pitcher Kyle Wright (he just made his Atlanta Braves debut in April) was the SEC’s lone top-10 pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.

That was a different story than 2015, when Dansby Swanson, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi and Carson Fulmer gave the SEC 4 picks in the top 10. And the SEC also had 4 teams in the College World Series. The only problem? Vandy was the runner-up that year and Virginia took home the title.

Hence, those aforementioned bullet points.

Depending on how you look at it, you could make a case that 2015 was the best overall year for SEC baseball. Or if you want to default to 1 of those 3 years in which it was an all-SEC final and say that’s the biggest conference flex possible, that’s fine, too.

Here’s the breakdown of how those years stacked up:

all-SEC CWS finals
CWS teams
Top-10 picks
Round 1 picks

Remember that so many Round 1 players come straight out of high school. It is, however, baffling to think that 3 instances in which the SEC had both teams in the CWS final only yielded a combined total of 1 top-10 pick.

(Once upon a time, the SEC had a 10-year stretch from 1997-2006 in which it didn’t have a single draft with multiple top-10 picks.)

This year, early projections say that the SEC will have multiple top-10 picks for the 5th time in 7 years. put together a mock draft last week that had the following SEC players:

  • No. 2 Jack Leiter, Vanderbilt RHP
  • No. 6 Kumar Rocker, Vanderbilt RHP
  • No. 18 Gunnar Hogland, Ole Miss RHP
  • No. 19 Jud Fabian, Florida OF
  • No. 28 Will Bednar, MSU RHP

No, that’s not quite having 6 SEC players come off the board in Round 1 like 2017, but 4 different SEC programs represented in the first round would be a nice flex.

And who knows? Hogland blew out his elbow out and won’t pitch in the NCAA Tournament — he likely would’ve been a top-10 pick — but with 9 SEC teams in the NCAA Tournament, perhaps someone like Arkansas’ Christian Franklin will take off and become a Round 1 guy by July.

What seems unlikely in 2021 is that the SEC will surpass last year’s MLB Draft feat — 4 of the first 6 picks came from the SEC. Though because of the fact that the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of COVID, nobody will ever call 2020 “the best year” at anything. Except maybe mask manufacturing?

By virtue of having an actual postseason tournament, 2021 is already better than 2020. Will it be better than the rest? I’d say, given what the mock drafts are projecting, that the most realistic path to that would be the following things ALL happening:

  • 4 CWS teams
  • All-SEC final
  • Multiple top-10 picks

Never before has the SEC checked all 3 of those boxes in the same year.

That can change in a few short weeks.