Monday, February 7, 2011

Nine Questions #9: What is success this season?

Such a hard question to really quantify or answer because success is truly relative in college baseball. For some people, success is not achieved unless championships are won. Personally, I think that’s unfair. Are Baylor football fans disappointed in their team this year? No. Why? They didn’t win a championship. So why are the happy? It’s because their team showed progress and made changes and just improved all around. Baylor made it to a bowl game. That’s something they needed to do and hadn’t done for a long time.



For Auburn baseball, a similar mindset needs to be in place. Auburn will face a ton of challenges in 2011. From a mixed up infield to a rotation that needs to find its place. Add in the adjustments to the new bats (which will impact the overall offensive numbers) and you have a recipe of tempered expectations.



If we were to look at this question logically, we’d have to first ask, “What is a failure?”. That’s easy to define. With a down SEC West and an SEC East that consists of 3 Great Teams, 1 good team, and 2 “meh” teams; and at least a solid core of returning talent to work with: Failure is not making the SEC Tournament. It’s as simple as that. Most prognosticators will say the SEC Tournament’s 8 Great will consist of Florida, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and 5 SEC West Teams (all except Mississippi State). Granted, that will make the SEC West more challenging, but it also means that the “bad” teams in the SEC East will make up for the SEC West beating itself up and into submission come late March.



So what is success for Auburn baseball in 2011? Just making the SEC Tournament. It might sound simple, but that’s where Auburn baseball is right now. Expectations need to be tempered. Just by making the SEC Tournament Auburn should book a spot in the postseason. Again, that’s another step up. Still, success has levels. If Auburn makes the NCAA but ends up traveling to a Regional then, to me, we’ve still made progress. We’re on the right track and we’re progressing instead of regressing. If Auburn HOSTS another Regional than I’m going to be ecstatic. That’s more than progression and a step forward. That’s two steps and a leap forward. If Auburn hosts and is a National Seed? I’m going to be through the roof.



For everyone success is going to be different. For me, and looking through it a bit objectively (or as objectively as I can). I have a five point report card that I’ll be judging the team on.

  1. POST SEASON
    • Super Regional (A)
    • Regional (B)
    • SEC Tournament (C)
    • Missing out on SEC by <2.5 Games (D)
    • Missing out on SEC by >2.5 Games (F)
  2. TEAM ERA – Last year the team sported a portly 5.00 ERA. In this new bat era that should (hopefully) decrease)
    • 3.50 ERA or Less (A)
    • 4.00 ERA (B)
    • 5.00 ERA (C)
    • 5.00 ERA or more (F)
  3. TEAM AVG- Last Year with the bAUMb Squad, Auburn had a solid .348 AVG
    • .348 or better (A)
    • .300 plus (B)
    • .300 (C)
    • .250 or less (F)
  4. TEAM FIELDING- The Bane of Auburn’s losses all year. 93 errors and a .962 Fielding %
    • 60 or fewer errors (A)
    • 61-70 Errors (B)
    • 71-80 Errors (C)
    • 81-93 Errors (D)
    • 93 or more errors (F)
  5. RECORD – Probably the simplest and shows just how much emphasis should be placed on wins and losses (and not hard stats). It almost double weights the postseason category. Last Year Auburn finished with 43 wins.
    • 43 or more wins (A)
    • 38-43 Wins (B)
    • 30-38 Wins (C)
    • Less than 30 Wins (F)



Pretty simple grading curve. I’ll keep up with this throughout the season and give an updated report card every two weeks.



With all this grading and understanding in place. It’s time to unveil the 2011 Threat Level. We’ll start with Threat Level Gabe. A Mid Range threat level and a tempered expectation at the start of the year.



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