Visitor’s Dugout: And the Valley Shook
You could hear me blab on and on about Auburn baseball and the upcoming series against LSU. Thankfully, PodKATT from And the Valley Shook took the time to answer some of my LSU baseball related Questions. As with most Visitor’s Dugout, you can check out my answers to his questions over there.
1) I've seen/followed some LSU games where the offense is rolling (The McNeese games come to mind) and some where they've been shut down (Appalachian State). Can you pinpoint a reason? Is it something Auburn should try to do?
The difference is quality opposing pitching. Using the teams you mentioned as an example, McNeese in two games could never find anyone who could last more than an inning or two before giving up a couple of ground ball RBIs. Appy St, on the other hand, won their two games largely because of two starters who had monster days, only giving up a combined 5 hits with 14Ks. Another good example is the close Friday win (in 10 innings) against Miss St. where the bulldog Stratton had 17Ks and got SEC pitcher of the week honors in a loss. This lineup isn't afraid to swing against a good strike thrower, the trouble is LSU won't connect on most of it.
2) Is there anyway to slow down Katz or Rhymes? To me, and on paper, they look like guys Auburn might just try to pitch around just to be safe.
Rhymes may be the quietest player to lead LSU (and indeed the SEC) in BA that i can remember. He's not a power hitter (6 doubles are his only extra-base hits), he's just very good at getting the ball on the ground when guys are aboard, and as such fills the cleanup spot in the lineup perfectly. Katz's numbers are still a little inflated from when he nearly tied the NCAA consecutive safely reached base record earlier this season (17 times in a row.) At the hight of the streak, all of his batting numbers were over .500 with a SLG of .950. He's a small guy, but he's also the closest thing LSU has to a power hitter. If anyone is going to get one out of the park for LSU this weekend, it's going to be Katz.
3) Offensively, Auburn and LSU look pretty similar. Only .002 difference in AVG. Identical numbers in Triples/HRs. etc. The only thing I've noticed is a lack of the usual power from LSU and Auburn (obviously) stealing whenever they can. Have you noticed any similarities?
I wouldn't be an LSU fan if I didn't rant about how these bats are killing college baseball as we knew it. Almost all of LSU's season has been at home in a park designed to make things difficult with the old bats. Nowadays being a power team is damn near impossible. It's frustrating to see this team struggle at times playing the "small ball" game when, as a fan, you want them to be swinging away, even if the numbers say they won't be successful doing that either. To my eyes, Auburn and LSU are both trying the same things at the plate and Auburn might be doing it a little better. The difference in W-L may just be that Auburn has played a tougher schedule. I will say that LSU's base running numbers might be higher if we hadn't gotten so bad at it lately. The last few weeks it seems every game we get a little rally going in the 3rd or 4th, only to have it snuffed out by a base running mistake, and I'm starting to think the coaches are telling them to go at the wrong times.
4) How can Auburn win this series? How can LSU win it? What're your predictions?
Auburn can win if they can keep the scores close until they face our not quite reliable relief pitching and stay aggressive on base. LSU can win it if they get some timely extra base hits, probably off of Auburn fielding errors, and don't let Auburn's aggressive base running make them throw into errors. I think LSU takes 2 of 3, but would not be surprised if Auburn took it instead. Home field advantage is a real factor in this league and LSU has lost 8 of it's last 9 SEC road series going back to the 2010 season.