Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bats, BBCOR, Future Faces, and Hall of Famers

I should probably just rename this post: "Math makes my brain hurt". The AU-fficial site released a new video where Coach Pawlowski and Kevin Patterson talk about fall ball. You can watch it here. (Side Note: C"mon Auburn. Let us be able to embed SOME video). Some quick highlites of the video include Paws talking about new faces and mentions (briefly) competition and seeing Mitchell Self and Tony Caldwell take bunting practice.The biggest thing is Paws mentioning the new bats. If this is the first time you've heard about the new bat regulations, you aren't the only one. The NCAA hasn't really done a good job of publicizing the changes. Yet, these changes will dramatically change the 2011 season. Some basic bullet points:

  • All Baseball Bats used in the 2011 must be certified by the UMass-Lowell Baseball Research Center (UMLBRC).
  • All Bats must follow/adhere to NEW guidelines and no bats can be "grandfathered" in.
  • This new guideline is the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) Protocol and replaces the old guidliens (Ball Exit Speed Ratio, or BESR Protocol)
  • All of these new regulations do a number of things such as : Making the bats safer, reducing the "livelihood" of the metal bats, and making the bats more like Wood Bats.
  • BBCOR will become the buzzword because effective January 1, 2011 ALL NCAA bats must be BBCOR certified.
  • Once bats are BBCOR Certified they will have a sticker placed on them by the manufacturer.
  • Bat manufacturers still have to do their best to deliver a "tamper proof" (i.e. no screw off tops) model. So once a bat is approved, someone can't go back and "juice" the bat.
  • BBCOR approved bats must have a BBCOR less than or equal to .500.

Still with me? Good. Because now it actually gets complicated because this is how you determine BBCOR:

where vI (sensors 1 to 3 measurement) and vR (sensors 3 to 1 measurement) are the ball inbound and rebound speeds, respectively, r is calculated using Eq. 2, and Cball is the measured correction factor for each baseball given in Eq. 3.
The BBCOR will be the average of six (6) valid hits at the maximum BBCOR location. If at any time during the certification process, the average of six (6) valid hits at an impact location exceeds the limiting BBCOR, then testing is halted and the bat is noncompliant for NCAA competition. Prior to completion, the test sponsor may exercise the option to continue the test.

In English:

What is BBCOR?

BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) is a name convoluted enough to make even the geekiest ballplayer gulp. We'll try to explain it to you as best as we can.

Instead of measuring the speed of the ball after it is batted, BBCOR measures the "bounciness" of the ball and bat, or the "trampoline" effect. Whenever a bat hits a ball during a game, the ball actually compresses by nearly a third.

A pitched ball holds a lot of energy that you can see in the spin and speed of the ball. With solid wood bats, much of that energy is lost as the ball compresses at impact. The batted ball speed gets a lot of its energy from the bat. With hollow-core aluminum or composite bats, the thin walls "give" a little, and the ball distorts less and retains its pitched energy and adds to it the power of the bat speed. That's why non-wood bats hit balls faster.

The loss of energy at collision is what BBCOR measures. The less energy lost, the faster the ball speed after it gets launched off the bat.

I'm Still Confused.

A simple way to think of BBCOR is to jump up and down on a hard floor. It takes a lot of energy in your legs to get off the ground. The floor doesn't help at all. Contrast that feeling by jumping on a trampoline. Even with very little energy from your body, you will still get a bounce because that energy isn't being absorbed by the trampoline. Instead, the trampoline is flexing with the impact and then "bouncing" back to its original shape, thus launching you higher into the air.

So what does this mean for Auburn?

  • In a backwards way it benefits the Tigers. Power will still be power, but there will be more of an emphasis on small ball. Which is one thing Auburn DIDN'T lose in the draft.
  • Manufacturing runs will be the key and that seems to be Auburn's focus. One thing this will do will allow guys like Justin Fradejas to become an extremely valuable resource.
  • The SEC essentially goes from AL club to an NL Club. Better pitching will excel and pure brute force just won't cut it at the plate anymore.

Moving on. Auburn picked up a couple of solid in-state commitments over the last month. Including Craig Shirley (above) from Northview High School in Dothan, AL:

His 18 homers tied for the most in the Alabama High School Athletic Association with two others and his 72 runs batted in was fourth best.

He also hit .477, earning 62 hits in 130 at-bats, and had 35 extra-base hits, which represented more than half of his 62 hits. He also scored 48 runs and was walked 27 times, including 12 intentionally.

His efforts helped Northview to a 30-15 and the Class 6A state quarterfinals.

“He had a phenomenal year,” Garrett said. “I have never had anyone hit like he did. He hit 18 homers, drove in 72 and had a slugging percentage of 1.38. That is hard to top.

“Right now he is one of the top power hitters in the state, but he can also hit for average and play good defense.”



A very solid pickup and the honors are all there for Shirley:

  • 2010 All State
  • 2010 Max Preps Junior All American
  • 2010 Louisville Slugger All American
  • 2010 Alabama Baseball Coaches All Star Team
  • 2010 Dothan Eagle Player of the Year
  • 2010 Team MVP

Another commitment comes from Jordan Ebert (above, in black). from Baldwin County High School in Bay Minette, AL. While Shirley might bring the power, Ebert brings the speed:

As a sophomore last year, Ebert was named to the Class 6A All-State team after hitting over .400 with more than 40 steals. He played his freshman season at powerhouse Fairhope.

Ebert played outfield and second base last year, but he said most scouts project him as a middle infielder in college.

Ebert apparently knew right away the Auburn was for him and can see great things for the program:

“I just knew Auburn was the place for me,” Ebert said. “It just felt like home.”
Ebert was considering Alabama, Ole Miss, Clemson and LSU but settled on Auburn because of the Tigers’ recent successes. Auburn won the SEC West last season and recently signed head head coach John Pawlowski to an extension through the 2015 season.
“I think Auburn’s program is on the rise,” Ebert said. “I love all the coaches. Coach Pawlowski just signed through 2015 so I know he will be there while I am there. The facilities are top notch, and they are building on the stadium.
“I think Auburn is going to be a real contender to get to Omaha in the next few years.”
Ebert hit .409 with nine homeruns, 44 RBIs and 20 stolen bases as a sophomore and BCHS and made the All-State baseball team. As a freshman at Fairhope, he hit .368 with 46 hits, 40 RBIs, five triples and five homers.

Ebert is also a standout football player. Playing QB for BCHS. Making him the 2nd incoming Auburn guy who's also a HS QB (Trey Cochran-Gill plays QB for Tallassee):

Sounds like Pawlowski is doing a great job of keeping good in-state right here at home. Guys like Cullen Wacker (McGill-Toolen), Trey Coachran-Gill (Tallassee), JD Crowe (Oak Mountain) and others seem to making up a nice future signing class. Remember, none of these commitments are official until these guys sign and in most cases these are commitments for the 2011 class and won't actually be in Auburn until 2012.



Other recruit/players news, Dexter Price has left Auburn and will continue his college career at the University of South Carolina- Beaufort:

The Sand Sharks held their first full practice of the fall Tuesday at Hardeeville's Richard Gray Baseball Complex, and their home field was dotted with a mix of familiar faces and new ones, including four transfers from NCAA Division I programs.

Headlining that group is junior right-hander Dexter Price, a transfer from Auburn who went 7-3 in 16 starts over two seasons with the Tigers. Price (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) joins returners Adam Miller, Spencer Cromer, Ryan Philpott and Kyle McCullough, among others, in competition for a spot in the weekend rotation.

"The whole starting rotation is back, so my focus is just to come in and work as hard as I can to try to earn a spot," Price said. "It shouldn't be given to me, because those guys have earned a spot to be where they are. We're all here pushing each other to try to get better."

As a high school senior, the Milwaukee Brewers drafted Price in the 43rd round of the Major League Baseball draft. USCB coach Rick Sofield said the powerful right-hander has a live fastball, a solid changeup and a big overhand curve.

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2010/09/01/1356567/uscb-baseball-roster-should-have.html#ixzz10N2Zxo1b



And in Hall of Fame News. Former Auburn star and AUM Coach QV Lowe was honored by the NAIA:

Q.V. Lowe has been involved in collegiate baseball ever since he played at Auburn University Montgomery where he still holds the record for most complete games in a season (10) and the career earned run average (1.33). After playing for AUM, Lowe played eight seasons for the Chicago Cubs. He coached for the Yankees and Expos organizations until he started coaching Auburn University at Montgomery in 1987. In his 24 seasons at AUM he would capture 900 victories, win nine conference or independent region championships, and take four trips to the NAIA

World Series. He built the Senator’s baseball program from the ground up. In 1990, Lowe was awarded the NAIA National Coach of the Year and his team was runner up at the NAIA World Series. Lowe has coached 68 All-Conference Players and 35 NAIA All-Americans. He was inducted into the Auburn University Tiger Walk Hall of Fame

in 1998 and into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2007, he was named the Alabama Baseball Coaches Collegiate Coach of the Year. His players have a reputation for attending class, fulfilling their obligations and graduating. Lowe is a caring person who strives to teach life lessons to his players in addition to teaching them baseball skills; they leave his program young men who are mature and well respected across campus.



And former Auburn player Jay Waggoner was inducted into the inaugural class of the Vestavia Hills Hall of Fame.

Read more...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The AP Poll is no Da Vinci Code


When the AP Poll came out on Sunday, most Auburn fans were scratching their heads. How did Auburn WIN a football game, but still manage to DROP in teh AP Poll. It's pretty simple and shows the inherit flaws in the voting system. Andy Bitter had the first little blip about the disparity:

Here's a quick look at how the AP voters placed Auburn:

  • The Tigers are now on 59 of 60 ballots. Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald is the lone holdout. He's got Clemson 25th for some reason. Guess he turned in his ballot before last night's game finished.
  • Auburn is 10th on three voters' ballots: Joe Giglio (Raleigh News & Observer), John Niyo (Detroit News) and Rob Long (Fox-1370 Radio, Baltimore).
  • Randy Rosetta of the Baton Rouge Advocate has Auburn 11th, the highest of any SEC writer.
  • Kirk Herbstreit, who called the game for ESPN, dropped Auburn two spots to 15th.
  • State voters: Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News has the Tigers 18th, same as last week; Jon Solomon of the Birmingham News has Auburn 16th, down one spot.
  • Most common ranking: 18th.


Read more: http://wareagleextra.blogspot.com/2010/09/auburn-up-to-14th-in-latest-coaches.html#ixzz10B8ypOsv

As Bitter points out, the voter who makes the least sense is Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald. Before Auburn fans star lambasting a Massachusetts sportswriter for not knowing anything about college football, Conroy does cover Boston College football (as well as Boston Bruins Hockey) so, in theory, he is qualified to vote in the poll. It's just a huge disparity and defies a bit of common sense. How do you rank one team below a team it just defeated. However, Conroy isn't the only person to drop the Tigers, according to the FANTASTIC website Pollspeak.com:



16 of the 60 writers dropped the Tigers. A loss of one point can be understandable (it could just mean a team jumped ahead of Auburn, pushing them down). However some writers dropped Auburn more than 1 spot, including Mike DeArmond (-2, Kansas City Star), Jon Werner (-3, Waco Tribune-Herald), and John Wilner (-4, San Jose Mercury News).



Some of the biggest positive jumps came from guys who had Auburn unranked (or No.26 in for our purposes) in Week 3 and solidly ranked in Week 4. Including Randy Rosetta (+15, The Baton Rouge Advocate), Chad Cripe (+8, Idaho Statesman), and Dave Foster (+8, WZTV-TV Nashville). Some other leaps were given from Ray Ratto (San Francisco Chronicle) and Rob Long (Fox-1370 Radio, Baltimore), who awarded Auburn's win with +7 and +8 jumps, respectively.



The AP Poll isn't the Da Vinci Code. It's beat writers (and some odd "others") that can't see every game but are required to vote like they have. However, thanks to websites like PollSpeak, the transparency is wonderful and voters and writers can be held completely accountable for their picks.



The issue that I have with the polls is with writers like John Wilner. Just take a look at his ballot. Who does Wilner have above Auburn? James Madison. A 1-AA team. Yes, JMU beat Virginia Tech, but that was two weeks ago. It's writers like this who abuse the system and makes fans like me lose any respect we might have for the Polls. Plus, this isn't the first time people have had issues with Wilner's voting.



Oh, and if someone could explain to me how Craig James (who I'm not entirely convinced graduated SMU) gets an AP Vote, that would help.

Read more...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Of Blue Helmets and Lost Sight

Were you near a computer yesterday, Auburn fan? Then surely you saw the biggest bit of speculation since the off-season and potential coaching changes (Malzahn to LA Tech, Trooper to Memphis, etc). The mythical blue helmets have surfaced. Blue Helmets, that, to my knowledge the team has had for a while. It's stirred up quite the bit of discussion. First things first, here's a look (which you've already seen I imagine) of that blue helmet:

On the helmet. Here's is what I know/think with about 90% certainty:

  • That helmet is, at the very least, a prototype.
  • Seriously, his whole business is like analyzing a bigfoot photo. I keep looking and scanning the picture; trying to (at the very least) get some size reference.
  • It's not technically a minihelmet, but it's not full size either. That leads me back to the prototype thinking.
  • Yes, they do put visors on minihelmets and prototype helmets

Look, I would think Auburn fans should have more trepidation than anyone when it comes to changing the uniform. Especially considering this /facepalm moment:

Yes, those are the infamous Orange Uniforms (complete with pride stickers on the helmet). Uniforms that Doug Barfield busted out four times. Perhaps most famously against Georgia in 1980, when the team warmed up in Blue Uniforms, changed to Orange, and then proceeded to lose 31-21 to the Dawgs:

Shortly after being hired, Pat Dye was asked about whether his teams would ever break out the orange jerseys. Dye quickly answered, "No, Auburn's colors are blue trimmed in orange, not orange trimmed in blue."

(Major H/t to Jay over at Track'Em Tigers)

I'd recommend checking out Goldberg's video on the matter:

Auburn's Gene Chizik, Trooper Taylor...blue pants?

Chizik's reaction isn't exactly stone faced and he does give a wry smile at the end. However, he's convinced the press pigs that it's genuine. If Auburn does in fact bust out the monochrome blue then remind me to play poker with Coach Gene, because he has one of the worst tells in the world.

As for the Blue Pants and Blue Uniforms? Here's what I know/think with certainty:

  • Apparel companies send out prototypes to schools all the time.
  • Blue Pants/Blue Helmets whether in prototype form or real, are in Auburn
  • They've probably been here for some time. Which is not something new. Mark Richt, after UGA busted out their Black Uniforms, said something along the lines of them being in the Athletic Department for a while.
  • Gene Chizik has said NOT HAPPENING (see above)
  • Grad Assistant/Musician/Former Auburn Head Hunter Travis Williams has said NOT HAPPENING
  • Ryan Pugh is just messing with Twitter
  • Zach Etheridge is just getting annoyed
  • Andrew Gribble points out misplaced priorities of the Auburn faithful

All this leads me to the ultimate crux of this post. I mean, so far the offseason (remember this is a baseball blog) has been good. Quiet. Enjoyable. This? This just sticks in my craw.

Auburn has, without a doubt, one of the biggest games of the season on Saturday. Gameday is in town, ESPN 3D is here, all eyes are on Auburn. We've got a team that is on the precipice of busting the season wide open and getting incredible momentum heading into our first ranked on ranked matchup next week against South Carolina. Yet what are Auburn fans doing? We are worrying about uniforms. UNIFORMS. Auburn fans seemed to have a bigger concern over what the team will wear than how they will play. Are you kidding me with this nonsense? We have so many more questions to answer before kickoff, such as:

  • Will Craig Stevens be back?
  • Will Mike Dyer get the majority of carries?
  • Was the offensive sputtering in the 2nd half of the Mississippi State game an aberration or a harbinger?
  • Is Lee Ziemba 100%? How about Mario Fannin?

You know what Auburn fans shouldn't be asking?

  • What color are the uniforms?

Saturday night is huge for Auburn. Huge in immeasurable ways. At this point, this uniforms ridiculousness is teetering from fun message board chatter to a legitimate distraction. This isn't Concordia College we are playing on Saturday. This is Clemson. You remember all those writers who were bashing the ACC after their abysmal showing last weekend? That tune will change real quick if Auburn doesn't take care of business Saturday. Auburn can't lose sight of the potential and impact this game will have on Saturday.

Read more...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The 2011 Auburn Baseball Schedule: Man with No Name Style

 

 

The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. That's the best way to describe Auburn's 2011 Baseball Schedule. It's also a fitting way to describe the 2011 Auburn Baseball team. The antihero of those great Sergio Leone Westerns is "The Man With No Name". More than a moniker, TNWNN became a stock character:

The "Man With No Name", as personified by Eastwood, embodies the archetypical characteristics of the American movie cowboy — toughness, exceptional physical strength or size, independence, and skill with a gun — but departed from the original archetype due to his moral ambiguity. ...He is generally portrayed as an outsider, a mercenary or bounty hunter, or even an outlaw. He is characteristically soft-spoken and laconic.

You'd have to fudge the definition just a bit but I think it can fit Auburn's 2011 Team. The superstars are gone and what remains, essentially, are men with no names. Guys who will need to step up and fill roles. Tough and gritty, but fitting the AUburn mold of outsiders. I'd say only two guys might make the preseason All-SEC team. There won't be much hype and I'm sure most of the talk next year will be about replacing the John Wayne's (Hunter Morris) and Alan Ladd's (Trent Mummey) of the 2010 team. This 2011 team will be different. Akin to mercenaries who posses unique skill sets. Not flashy, just workman-like in their approach. That will be the Auburn mold in 2011.

So let's run down the schedule shall we?

THE GOOD:

    • -A superb non-conference slate that includes 5 teams that made the NCAA Tournament last year: Virginia, Jacksonville State, Bethune Cookman, College of Charleston, and Arizona State.
    • -4 of those non conference games in the friendly confines of Plainsman Park.
    • A Marquee Non-Con against Arizona State.
    • -Missing the Florida Gators for another (and probably final) year.
    • A manageable road schedule with the only big road bumps being @LSU April 15-17 and @South Carolina April 29-May 1
    • A winnable but still tough Non-Conference Tournament at the College of Charleston (with Western Kentucky/New York Tech/and CofC)
    • Rivalry games against UGA and Alabama at home.

THE BAD:

    • They might not look like it on paper but the rest of the non-cons should be a bit challenging. Troy and South Alabama are always tough. and Memphis is constantly improving. Just scanning the schedule on paper, the only home games I would be immediately confident about are Radford and Texas Southern.
    • Playing with the Big Boys early. Virginia, Arkansas, Arizona State, and the Capitol City Classic all round out the Feb/March Schedule.

 

THE UGLY:

    • The start times for that CofC Tourney? How about Noon/Noon/and 10am CST. Yeesh.
    • A stretch from March 22 until April 17 when Auburn will only play 4 of 15 games at home.

 

The schedule is actually extremely favorable. If you're a college baseball fan it's dang near perfect. The main motto going in to 2011 will be protecting Plainsman Park. The home schedule is absolutely delicious when it comes to matchups and marquee names coming to town. We'll leave you with Clint:

 

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