But don't fret. Dave Van Horn and his Arkansas coaching staff saw it coming and the Razorbacks are built for what is surely coming down the collegiate baseball running paths, a lot more small ball.
"This is the most athletic team we've had," Van Horn said. "We can really run. That's what we went after and we will be able to do some things as far as covering ground in the outfield and running on the base paths that is perfect for the way we need to play.
"You see some of our guys; you are going to think they belong on the football team because they are long and athletic. Some of these guys would look good in a major league locker room."
The leaders within the team don't sound nervous, either.
"Everyone around the country and the SEC is dwelling on what we don't have or can't do, not what we have. We lost a lot, but so did most everyone else.
"We still have talent. We brought in talent last year and we brought in some more this year. We will still be good."
Arkansas coaches might have sounded a little nervous in the fall when they saw how green that talent looked on the field. But a heavy dose of individual workouts after the world series was moved up and cut a little short appears to have produced fruit.
"You can never tell a whole lot in the fall," Van Horn said. "The guys played all spring, all summer and when they get back to school, they are all tired both mentally and physically. You just can't get a lot out of them then. But after they get the (winter) break and you get them back at the start of the spring semester, they are different."
They have the edge back now and they look good. "That's what I see, too," said Todd Butler, the veteran hitting coach. "I wasn't so sure what we had in the fall. But I see it now. And I really like it. These guys are pretty good."
The Hogs are deep and talented starting at catcher with McCann. There is depth throughout the infield. And this might be the most athletic outfield the Hogs have fielded of the Van Horn era.
The pitching is green, but the staff is loaded with "electric" arms. Van Horn's eyes dance when he talks about the potential from both the right and left side. It might be the longest list of good lefty pitchers in school history, often a scarce commodity in college baseball.
"Our pitching is an unknown around the nation and in our league and to some degree to our staff," Van Horn said. "That's going to make it interesting over the first 45 days. I think we will have good pitching. It's going to take weeks to get our roles set.
"I like to go back to what Norm DeBriyn always said, ‘We are lying in the weeds.' I like that line. I'm not sure on everything yet, but we will do a lot of evaluating and a lot of coaching and we will get it figured out."
Van Horn said the fall was fun because of all the inexperience. He enjoyed the teaching part with the turn to small ball.
"Really, last fall, we knew what we were going to do and it was going to be the same guys as the previous year," Van Horn said. "This fall was more like two years ago when we were looking at some of the young ones like Cox. We had some work to do, but it's a good group and it was exciting for the coaches."
McCann sees the transformation between fall and spring.
"A lot of guys who didn't play last year but were here have grown up," McCann said. "And some of the new guys made a change from fall to now. They are starting to understand what it takes.
"I knew we would probably not be ranked to start the spring. I think the majority of people around the country would look at us and say, ‘Arkansas is rebuilding.' But they didn't know what we had coming. They don't see us. We are very talented, very hard working and very tough. It's a solid core of players.
"Every pitcher on our team has gotten better. It's all about being able to repeat mechanics and they are doing that now. They understand themselves as players and can make big-time pitches.
"We aren't high in the top 25, but it only matters where you finish. I will be surprised if this team isn't ranked pretty good and in the top part of the SEC when the season is over.
"I look at what Florida had last year. They were very good with five or six freshmen in their starting lineup. We had five freshmen playing two years ago when we went to Omaha. We lost some integral parts, but we don't seem to be lacking key players. We aren't rebuilding. We are still going after a national championship."
When you listen to that, it's not hard to understand why Van Horn said everything starts with McCann.
"He's the guy we can't afford to lose," Van Horn said. "He's such a great leader. He's great at handling our young pitchers. I'll let him catch all 56 games if he can do it.
"He's just huge for us. He can tell us what's going on the field. He sees it. He's got the makeup of a coach and just is a great leader and so smart.
"I remember calling him on the phone when we were first recruiting him. Some of those phone calls you dread because when you are talking to a junior in high school, you never know what you are going to get. But when he got on the phone, it was like you were talking to a mature 25-year-old man. He's got such a high makeup. He eats up baseball. He's so good with his academics, but baseball is still his main focus.
"We all thought he was something special, but we didn't know how special until he got on campus. We had a senior catcher when he got here, but it was just a matter of time before he worked past him. You knew he was better and was going to be our catcher and he was very good when we played him in the College World Series."
McCann has a strong, accurate arm and controls the pitches in the dirt. He can also call the game. Like most catchers, the daily grind might wear on his hitting.
"If he wasn't catching he'd hit .300," Van Horn said. "But he's going to give you clutch hits and he might hit in the four, five or six hole for us. He carried his team at the plate at Cape Cod in the playoffs this summer."
The Hogs will have versatility in the infield. Matt Reynolds is slated for third, Tim Carver second and Bo Bigham at second. Reynolds can also play short and Carver can play second. True freshman Dominic Ficociello can play first and third. Returnee Kyle Robinson has a big bat and also plays first and a corner outfield spot. Freshmen Erik Fisher and Jacob Rice can play first or outfield. Rice can fly.
"I think we are solid in the infield, better than last year," Van Horn said. "Matt will probably be our shortstop next year because I think Tim will get a shot to play pro ball. We are good there.
"I'd say first is up for grabs. Ficociello was a shortstop in high school. He's a switch hitter and is great defensively. Robinson is not bad defensively and might be a guy --if he hits -- gets to play every day in several spots. He could DH, play first and play in the outfield.
"I think the strength here is that a lot of guys are interchangeable. We've got some guys who switch hit."
The outfield has great possibilities, too. It starts with Collin Kuhn in center. But if Arizona State transfer Jacob Morris develops at the plate, he could play center and Kuhn could move back to left, where he was outstanding last year.
"You want to have your centerfielder set every game," Van Horn said. "So that's why I say Kuhn would play there. But Morris is one of the best we've had at going and getting the ball out there. He runs so well. But right now, Morris is more of a defensive player right now. If he hits, though, we could move Collin back over because that's a hard spot to play. The ball hooks, dips and slices and there isn't as much time to run them down like in center.
"Morris and Rice are both burners. It would be a great race between them. I'm not sure we've had anyone who can run like those two."
Jarrod McKinney (ACL) and Matt Vinson (nonthrowing shoulder) are both coming off surgeries, but have made great progress.
"I'd say McKinney is 90 percent and is really swinging the bat," Van Horn said. "Vinson is 100 percent. They both look good."
There are also two fascinating transfer hitters, 6-5 Sam Bates and 5-9 Jimmy Bosco. The little one is still awaiting word on his eligibility from the NCAA after leaving California, now planning to drop the baseball program.
"We are hopeful on Bosco," Van Horn said. "Neither one of them are great in the outfield, but they can hit. Bates can swing it and could DH and be in the four hole."
Van Horn imagines an outfield with potential to play shallow and chase down anything over their heads with amazing speed.
"And we have some great arms out there," he said. "Morris has a plus-plus arm. Vinson and Kuhn are both plus."
Nolan Sanburn, a candidate to close on the mound, can also play the outfield.
"Time will tell on Nolan, but he's going to pitch early," Van Horn said. "He could be a star in the outfield if he's not too good on the mound. A closer is too valuable to have him out there throwing in the outfield before the game. He's a jack of all trades."
Ah, pitching. It's such a big part of baseball. The Hogs lost all of their weekend starters, yet Van Horn has high hopes after spending big money on pitching scholarships in the last two classes and again this year. Some of it was wiped out by the major league draft, but there is still lots of talent on this Arkansas pitching staff.
There are some ifs like Cade Lynch, Jeff Harvill and Randall Fant. Those three have immense potential. Lynch, 6-6 juco lefty, has been plagued with headaches, but surgery Jan. 4 in the upper neck might have solved the mystery. Harvill has a small tear in his elbow, but is pain free and throwing unbelievable now. Fant was not focused and fell off the charts after a spectacular Sunday start at Mississippi State last spring.
There are known quantities on the mound. DJ Baxendale and Geoffrey Davenport (featured elsewhere in the magazine) are SEC-quality pitchers. True freshmen Ryne Stanek (see the Q&A at the back of this magazine), Barrett Astin and Brandon Moore are hard throwers that will probably get big looks early. Van Horn also mentioned Trent Daniel and Colby Suggs as exciting prospects.
"Brandon Moore was maybe the best pitcher we had here in the fall," Van Horn said. "He's coming off some arm issues. His worst game of the year was in the red-white series when they hit him a little bit.
"They hadn't hit him all fall. He's a ground ball pitching machine. He can get you some quick innings at the start, you can bring him in the middle or he can close. That's going to be a wild card, too, and I don't think we'll have our pitching staff completely lined up ... we'll probably start conference different than we end it and that's just how baseball works."
The Arkansas coaches sweated Stanek all summer after he went higher in the draft than anticipated. He was tempted by an $850,000 offer, but brought his 96 mph fast ball to school.
"Ryne Stanek has an electric arm," Van Horn said. "The inning that stands out to me in the fall that shows me what he's all about.
"We brought him in a game out of the pen and I think the second pitch McKinney hits a three-run homer with nobody out. He struck out the next three hitters. He was upset. That showed me something. The key for him is to throw it over the plate. He wants to throw it by everybody and strike them out. Well, he can strike them out but we don't have to have strikeouts. There are sometimes you just want to get contact and get in the dugout. I don't like it 3-2 all the time. Those guys makes me nervous.
"He tries to throw too hard and he gets fired up out there, which I like. He's just got to control it. He's going to be really good. We've got to really keep an eye on some of these guys. We can't let them blow up in a game because we've got to win."
Harvill could be special if his elbow holds up. "Harvill has got it," Van Horn said. "He hurt his elbow his senior year. They were calling us and saying it wasn't torn enough to do anything. The parents were calling me saying he might be able to pitch, do you still want him to come? I said I still want him to come, that's how good he is. He's on a good scholarship. He didn't pitch his entire senior year and all summer. Right now when he pitches he is lights out. He throws strikes and it darts left and it darts right. He's got a good change-up.
"Harvill is the one. He could be our closer. If he can throw it over the plate, he's good. He scattered it pretty good and he was hurt. (Pitching coach) Dave Jorn had a long talk with him and said, 'You're not going to pitch.' That's all he needed to hear. He really started to work on his mechanics."
Some of the pitching development will come down to learning to adjust to SEC hitting.
"A lot of these guys come in and just live off the past," Van Horn said. "They swing at (unhittable pitches) in high school but here they just look at it. You know, 3-2 that far outside you might get the call or they swing at it, but here you just walk them. These guys have to learn the hard way but we can't afford to have them go out there in the ninth and walk two batters. It is a process."
The process has worked well at Arkansas under Van Horn. There seems to be confidence at Baum Stadium that it's going to work out well again in 2011.
SWATTER'S CLUB NOTES: Van Horn said Monday at the season's first meeting of the booster club that he didn't want to have the annual September meeting in the fall because of so many unknowns with this team. They are that green.
However, he said there was plenty of talent and he likes the way the fall went and the team is coming together this spring after the first 10 days of practice -- if the weather will cooperate.
"We got three good days before the snow hit and we may get the tarp off and get in some scrimmages this weekend, but we know there is a forecast for more snow midweek," he said. "But if you come by the park this weekend, we will probably be scrimmaging. They say it is going to be 50."
Van Horn said he likes the way the team responded to the fall workouts and the attitude they returned with in the last month.
"We've seen good things from our young pitchers," he said. "We have good arms. We are going to pitch them all, too. I can't tell you who is going to be our (SEC starters), but I think we'll be fine. We are going to throw them all and see what happens."
Pitching coach Dave Jorn likes some performances in the bullpen indoor cages, but is anxious to get some scrimmage time.
"We need to get some innings in on the field in scrimmages," he said. "We have good arms. We just need to get them time."
Fireballer Ryne Stanek, true freshman, has impressed since the Christmas break.
"He can throw 94 right now, but what I like is that he is finding out he doesn't have to throw at 100 percent to be effective," Jorn said. "He can throw 90 and hit spots and he'll be fine. He can just throw 75 percent and it's going to be hard enough."
There's a wealth of lefthanders competing for innings and Jorn likes that.
"We may be able to bring a guy in for a couple of batters, just mix it up," he said. "We have that kind of numbers with our lefthanders. I see Trent Daniels doing some good things."
The Hogs open the season Feb. 18 against Delaware State.