Baseball Preview: UCSB Lineup

Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is a ballpark with standard dimensions (335 down the lines, 385 to the power alleys, 400 to center) that slightly favors hitters, especially right-handed hitters with the wind usually blowing in from the ocean and out to left field, and the UCSB lineup is built to take advantage of that with only one left-handed hitter.

Caesar Uyesaka Stadium is a ballpark with standard dimensions (335 down the lines, 385 to the power alleys, 400 to center) that slightly favors hitters, especially right-handed hitters with the wind usually blowing in from the ocean and out to left field, and the UCSB lineup is built to take advantage of that with only one left-handed hitter. The Gauchos will play for the big inning and swing for the fences and are 3rd in the conf in both HR’s and K’s and only 7th in AVG. Despite having that kind of all or nothing offensive philosophy UCSB is only 6th in the Big West in scoring and SLG% although they have scored in double digits in their last three games against Cal Poly last weekend and Pepperdine on Tuesday. The Gauchos hit or miss offense has usually fared well against midweek pitching and the lesser pitchers that they have seen but has struggled against front end starting pitching. UCSB doesn’t have much team speed and they are 7th in the conf in SB’s and last in 2B’s. They have decent patience at the plate and are 4th in the Big West in BB’s and 2nd in HBP’s. The Gauchos won’t bunt much with two hitters accounting for 10 of their 17 SAC bunts.

UCSB has a decent fielding team with a .968 FLD % and has made 32 errors playing on an uneven playing surface that is known for being difficult for infielders to get true bounces on grounders. The Gauchos are solid around the infield and they have decent speed to run down balls in the OF but their LF and CF arms can be run on for extra bases.

Infield

UCSB went the JC route to fill some of the holes in their lineup at 1B, 2B and DH and return starters at C and SS with one of last year’s reserves taking over at 3B. The Gauchos have been using the same six players around the infield and DH except for an occasional start by the backup C.

C – SR #26 Marty Mullins (RH – .292/.404/.472, 4-13-0; ’09 – .295/.344/.485, 4-19-0) is in his second year starting behind the plate and was honorable mention all-conf in 2009. He usually hits 6th or 7th and is tied for the team lead in HR. Mullins doesn’t have much speed with only one other extra base hit besides his HR’s but does a good job of working counts and making contact. He is very good at blocking pitches and has only allowed 11 WP/PB but has only thrown out 4 of 25 base runners attempting to steal. Mullins went 2-10 last year at Fullerton. Backup C Soph #24 Bryce Tafelski (RH – 5-16) has started six times in mostly midweek games.

1B – JC transfer #35 Trevor Whyte (LH – .323/.393/.427, 2-19-0) broke out of a 3-for-23 slump by going 9-21 with 5 RBI in his last five games. He leads the team in H and is 2nd in AVG and RBI. Whyte isn’t patient at the plate with only 6 BB and is 3rd on the team with 20 K. He will usually hit 5th.

2B – JC transfer #10 Sean Williams (RH – .288/.370/.433, 1-11-2) has hit 2nd and started at 2B in every game and has been solid defensively with only four errors. He is a scrappy player who leads the team in BB and 3B and is 2nd in H, 2B and total bases. Williams handles the bat well and leads the team with 6 SAC bunts.

SS – SR #8 Matt Valaika (RH – .315/.407/.478, 4-22-3; ’09 – .343/.411/.545, 6-45-1) was honorable mention all-conf in 2009 and drafted in the 20th round but decided to come back for his SR year. Valaika was the 2B last season after playing SS in 2008 before being injured 17 games into the season. He usually hits 3rd and is the best returning hitter for UCSB and was 1st in AVG and SLG and 2nd in H, RBI, TB and 2B last season. Valaika got off to a bit of a slow start but has gotten hot and went 10-24 over the last five games. He leads the team in OBP, R, RBI and HR (tied) and is 3rd in AVG, H and TB. Valaika has solid range at SS but has made 8 errors. He went 2-9 at Fullerton last season and is 6-21 with one HR in his career against the Titans.

3B – Soph #17 Ryan Palermo (RH – .244/.323/.415, 2-14-0; ’09 – 6-12) wasn’t able to get much playing time last year but has been the everyday 3B this season. He has struggled at the plate, is 2nd in K’s and will usually hit 9th. Palermo has solid range at 3B.

DH – JC transfer #22 Beck Wheeler (RH – .333/.371/.481, 2-17-0) was one of the hottest hitters before going 2-12 at Cal Poly and leads the team in AVG and is 2nd in SLG. He will usually hit 6th but has hit all over the lineup. Wheeler is also the backup on the left side of the infield at SS and 3B.

Outfield

UCSB lost their CF from last season but returned the other two starters, moving their LF to CF, and a part-time player in 2009 has taken over in LF. Their CF and RF have started almost every game this season.

LF – SR #33 Ryan Tregoning (RH – .288/.377/.409, 0-15-3; ’09 – .310 in 58 AB’s) was only a part-time player the first few weeks of this season but has gone 14-39 since moving into the lineup on an everyday basis. He has decent speed and can play CF, which he did for part of Tuesday’s game with Pepperdine. Tregoning doesn’t have much power and usually hits 8th. He went 0-3 last season at Fullerton. Soph #2 Lance Roenicke (RH – .219 in 32 AB’s, 2 HR, 5 RBI) was playing more earlier in the year and has gotten only a couple of spot starts recently.

CF – SR #5 Gunner Terhune (RH – .290/.379/.400, 0-19-5; ’09 – .284/.320/.396, 1-22-10) was a 2B earlier in career, moved to LF last season and has started almost every game in CF. He is a pesky hitter who is 2nd in BB’s and SAC’s as the leadoff hitter. Terhune has good speed and is one of the few threats to steal and has been 2nd on the team in SB’s the last two years. He went 1-12 last year at Fullerton and is 3-21 in his career against the Titans. Terhune left Tuesday’s game early with an injury and if he is unable to play Tregoning would move over to CF.

RF – JR #25 Mark Haddow (RH – .287/.392/.495, 4-19-2; ’09 – .298/.371/.521, 5-25-10) is probably the best athlete on team and likely to be one of the highest drafted position players on the team (along with Valaika) due to his power/speed combination. He usually hits cleanup and leads the team in SLG, SB’s and total bases and is tied for the team lead in HR and 3B. Haddow has a big swing and has struck out almost 30% of the time the last two seasons. He is 0-3 against Fullerton in his career.