Baseball Preview: Stanford

Stanford had similar records the past two seasons, going 30-25, 13-14 in 2009 and 31-25, 14-13 in 2010 but they didn't play in a regional two years ago and were eliminated after losing their first two games at the Fullerton regional last season.

#2 Seed – Stanford Cardinal
 

  • Overall Record – 32-20
  • Conference Record – 14-12 (5th place)
  • How they qualified for a regional – At-large
  • Last Regional Appearance – 2010 (0-2 at Fullerton regional.  Lost to New Mexico and Fullerton)
  • RPI/ISR – 15/16
  • SOS – 24 (RPI)/3 (ISR)
  • Record vs. tournament field – 13-12
  • Record vs. top 50/top 100 RPI – 13-12/20-18

 
Season Summary
 
Stanford had similar records the past two seasons, going 30-25, 13-14 in 2009 and 31-25, 14-13 in 2010 but they didn't play in a regional two years ago and were eliminated after losing their first two games at the Fullerton regional last season.  The Cardinal entered this season with high expectations after returning six regular position players and most of their pitching staff from 2010 and bringing in one of the best recruiting classes in the country.  Stanford was picked to finish second by the Pac Ten coaches and they were ranked in the top twenty in just about every pre-season poll and ranking.
 
Stanford got off to a slow start this season against a schedule that would make just about any team in the country start slowly with three straight road series at national seeds Rice, Vanderbilt and Texas.  The Cardinal won the series at Rice but lost two of three to both Vanderbilt and Texas.  Stanford has been an inconsistent team that has only won seven of their thirteen weekend series, winning series against regional teams like UCLA, Arizona and Cal and losing series to teams that aren't playing in the post-season like USC and Oregon.  They also lost both series to regional hosts Oregon State and ASU.  Despite being an experienced team, Stanford is also a young team with FR and Soph's holding down seven spots in the lineup.
 
Stanford has recruited very well the last two years and the result has been an increase in the talent level around the diamond.  The Cardinal improved their team average from .288 to .300 this season despite having to use the new BBCOR bats.  Stanford is pretty much a station to station offense that looks to put together rallies by stringing several hits together and doesn't rely too much on hitting HR's or small ball and ended up 9th in the Pac Ten in SB and SAC's.  The Cardinal also isn't a patient team at the plate and ranked last in the Pac Ten in walks and finished in the middle of the pack in the conf in strikeouts.  Stanford has had their issues with scoring runs and they have been held to four runs or less in about half of their games.
 
Stanford anticipated they would have a good pitching staff with the return of almost every pitcher except for their closer but they got some bad news right before the season when their expected Friday starter was injured and lost for the season.  The Cardinal shuffled some pitchers into different roles and they have pitched well most of the time with their staff ERA coming down over a run per game to 3.50.  Stanford's staff isn't particularly deep and they have relied mostly on seven pitchers but six of them have ERA's in the low 4's or better.  Stanford has held their opponents to four runs or less in 34 of 52 games.
 

Offense
 

  • Park Factor according to Boyd's World – 87 (decreases offense by 13%).
  • Batting Average – .300 (NCAA ranking – 51, Conf ranking 3)
  • Runs – 278 (189, 4), 5.3 per game
  • Home Runs – 23 (167, 6)
  • Stolen Bases – 29 (276, 9)
  • Slugging Percentage – .406 (85, 3)
  • On Base Percentage – .360 (DNR, 4)
  • Walks – 148 (265, 10), 2.8 per game
  • HBP's – 34 (268, 10)
  • Sac Bunts – 25 (254, 9)
  • Strikeouts – 378 (DNR, 4), 7.3 per game


Batting Order
 
C #5 SR Zack Jones (RH – .268/.343/.432, 4-28-6) is in his fourth year as a starter and is a good athlete for a catcher, splitting time between 3B and C during his career and catching every game this season.  He led Stanford with ten SB's in 2010.  Jones got off to a terrible start with only one RBI in the first month of the season but has hit well over .300 the last two months and tied for the team lead in HR.  He is a good bunter and is tied for the team lead with five SAC's.  Jones missed the 2010 regional with a broken finger and is 7-29 with six RBI in his career against Fullerton.
 
DH #29 SR Ben Clowe (RH – .232/.307/.360, 2-10-2) has started games at C, 1B and OF during his career but has primarily been the DH this season and started in about half of their games.  He hit .346 in part-time duty in 2010.  Clowe is tied for the team lead with five SAC's.  He is 3-11 in his career against the Titans and went 1-5 last season at Fullerton.
 
LF #7 Soph Tyler Gaffney (RH – .320/.421/.478, 3-32-6) is one of the best athletes on the team and is a RB on the football team.  He has a good power/speed combo and leads the team in SLG and SB.  Gaffney also has very good plate discipline with a solid BB/K ratio (28/28) and leads the team in walks.  He is currently on a 17 game hitting streak.  Gaffney was honorable mention All-Pac 10.  He went 2-5 with a HR last season at Fullerton.
 
3B #25 Soph Stephen Piscotty (RH – .361/.424/.455, 2-36-2) is the only player for Stanford who was named 1st team All-Pac 10 after finishing in the top ten in the conference in AVG, H, TB and OBP.  He was second on the team in RBI.  Piscotty was converted from the OF this season and has done a solid job defensively after a slow start adjusting to the hot corner.  He went 2-5 with a HR and 4 RBI last season at Fullerton.
 
1B #21 FR Brian Ragira (RH – .321/.358/.466, 4-40-1) was the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year and honorable mention all-conference.  He tied for the team lead in HR, led the team in RBI and finished second in AVG and SLG.  Ragira has below average plate discipline with a 13/44 BB/K ratio and finished in the top ten in the Pac 10 in strikeouts.
 
SS #3 Soph Kenny Diekroger (RH – .299/.353/.373, 2-29-2) was a second round draft pick out of HS and was the Pac 10 Freshman of the Year in 2010 when he led the team with a .356 AVG and 41 RBI.  He was hitting over .400 for most of the first half of the season before slumping during the Pac 10 schedule.   Diekroger went 1-3 last season at Fullerton.
 
RF #30 FR Austin Wilson (RH – .313/.349/.413, 4-22-1) was a potential first round pick out of HS and was drafted only in the 12th round because of his decision to go to school.  He has strong potential to be a power hitter as he gains more experience and is tied for the team lead in HR and was honorable mention All-Pac 10.  Wilson hit well during the Pac 10 schedule and raised his average over 30 points from where it was during the non-conf schedule.  He needs to improve his plate discipline because he has a bad 7/53 BB/K ratio.
 
2B #8 FR Lonnie Kauppila (Both – .288/.333/.359, 1-20-0) was hitting under .200 for the first month of the season before going on a scorching hot 15-20 stretch the first week of April and has been hitting in the .300's since then.  Kauppila doesn't walk much but does a good job of making contact (11/23 BB/K ratio).
 
CF #24 Soph Jake Stewart (RH – .294/.341/.394, 0-18-7) is a very good athlete and was starting to hit well before having his appendix removed the first week of May.  He missed ten games and recently returned to the lineup.  #11 SR Dave Giuliani (Both –.286 in 63 AB's) has been a part-time player most of the season but has gotten some playing time recently due to Stewart's absence and usually played LF with Gaffney shifting over to CF.
 

Defense
 
Fielding .968 (89, 9) – 65 errors.  Double Plays – 45 (113, 3)
 
Stanford is not as sharp of a fielding team as usual by their standards, especially considering the athletic ability at most positions.  Ragira and Piscotty are solid on the corners (six of Piscotty's twelve errors were in the first thirteen games).  Kauppila has been outstanding at 2B.  Diekroeger has been inconsistent at SS in his first year there and leads the conf in errors but has great range and is second in the Pac 10 in assists.  Gaffney, Stewart and Wilson are all good athletes in the OF.  Gaffney and Stewart have very good speed and Wilson has one of the strongest arms in the Pac 10.
 
Stolen Base Attempts – 29-45 (DNR, 3).  Jones has improved against the running game after runners were 36-44 against him in 2010.
 
WP's/PB's Allowed – 49 (DNR, 9).  Jones is a good athlete behind the plate but has struggled with blocking pitches.
 



Pitching
 

  • ERA – 3.50 (56, 6)
  • AVG – .254 (DNR, 6)
  • HR – 20 (DNR, 6)
  • Walks – 170 (100, 7), 3.5 BB/9 IP
  • Strikeouts – 362 (93, 7), 7.3 K/9 IP


Starting Pitchers
 
Stanford had some issues with the rotation earlier in the season after losing projected Friday SP Brett Mooneyham to a finger injury.  Their Friday SP was converted from a reliever, two of the other SP's were weekend starters last year and the fourth one has started quite a bit during his career.
 
FRI – #26 Soph Mark Appel (RHP – 5-6, 3.02 ERA, 15 GS, 1 CG, 95 IP, 100 H, 26 BB, 75 K, .281 BA, 1 HR, 7 HBP, 7 WP, 3-10 SB) is the one power arm in the rotation with a mid 90's fastball along with a good slider and changeup and he will be a first round pick in 2012.  He allowed two runs or less in five straight Pac 10 starts before struggling in two of his next three starts when he allowed seven runs at ASU and six runs (4 ER) at Oregon.  Appel rebounded in his two most recent starts against Arizona (8 IP, 0 R) and Cal (7 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER).
 
SAT – #28 SR Danny Sandbrink (RHP – 3-1, 3.50 ERA, 1 save, 12 apps, 7 GS, 1 CG, 54 IP, 45 H, 14 BB, 39 K, .230 BA, 3 HR, 2 HBP, 3 WP, 4-8 SB) has been a swingman between the bullpen and the rotation during his career.  He relies on control, changing speeds and spotting his fastball to get hitters out.  Sandbrink was a long reliever and midweek SP earlier this year and moved into the rotation a few weeks into the Pac 10 schedule.  He allowed 2 R in 5 1/3 IP against UCLA and had a CG win at ASU (4 R) in his first two conf starts but struggled at Oregon (1 1/3 IP, 4 R) before throwing better against Arizona (6 IP, 4 R).  Sandbrink threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings at Fullerton in 2010.
 
SUN – #16 JR Jordan Pries (RHP – 5-5, 3.53 ERA, 15 GS, 87 IP, 89 H, 30 BB, 68 K, .276 BA, 4 HR, 10 HBP, 11 WP, 2-6 SB) allowed 3 ER or less in his seven starts before struggling against the meat of the Pac 10 schedule when he allowed 4-5 runs in four of his next five conf starts.  Pries threw well the last two weeks against Arizona (7 IP, 1 R) and Cal (7 1/3 IP, 2 R, 1 ER).  He isn't a hard thrower but relies on spotting his fastball and gets in trouble when he gets his pitches up.  Pries allowed 4 R in 4 IP in his relief appearance at Fullerton in 2009 and allowed 5 R in 6 1/3 IP against New Mexico at the Fullerton regional in 2010.
 
TUES – #19 Soph Dean McArdle (RHP – 7-4, 4.15 ERA, 15 apps, 12 GS, 56 IP, 55 H, 22 BB, 30 K, .257 BA, 7 HR, 4 HBP, 3 WP) leads the pitching staff in wins and was in the weekend rotation for most of the season before being moved into the midweek spot in late April.  When he was in the weekend rotation he had trouble getting past the middle innings and only went past the fifth inning in two of his eight starts.  McArdle relies on control and changing speeds and when he is off he has struggled pitching deep into games.
 

Relief Pitchers
 
Stanford is 26-1 when leading after seven innings so if they have the lead late the game is pretty much over.  The Cardinal has been relying primarily on three relievers at the back end of the bullpen.
 
Closer – #33 JR Chris Reed (LHP – 6-2, 2.61 ERA, 27 apps, 48 IP, 35 H, 14 BB, 48 K, .205 BA, 1 HR, 4 HBP, 9 WP, 2-3 SB) has been a shutdown closer with a 92-94 fastball and a good curve and is especially tough on LH hitters.  He is able to go 2-3 IP when called upon to do so.  Reed is projected to be picked in the first two rounds of the draft next week.
 
#36 JR Scott Snodgress (LHP – 2-2, 4.65 ERA, 2 saves, 25 apps, 31 IP, 27 H, 28 BB, 38 K, .231 BA, 1 HR, 2 HBP, 1 WP, 2-3 SB) is a big lefty with a low 90's fastball who is projected to be picked around the fifth round in the draft next week.
 
#17 FR A.J. Vanegas (RHP – 1-0, 3.35 ERA, 22 apps, 3 GS, 40 IP, 36 H, 20 BB, 30 K, .247 BA, 0 HR, 7 HBP, 4 WP, 1-3 SB) is another power arm in the bullpen with a 92-94 fastball and a good curve.  He was drafted in the seventh round out of HS despite his commitment to go to school.
 
None of the other relievers have made more than eight appearances.