Numbers Prove 2011 Best Season Ever

If you ever want to start an argument among fans, just ask the following question. "What is the greatest ______ team ever?" No matter how you fill in that blank there will be spirited debate.

That's true with Gator baseball as well. Is this team as good as 2005? 1996 and '98? What about the '85 team that had eight future major league players on it? It's debatable. But one thing is not. This is clearly the best season in school history and the numbers back it up.

"Eight out of Nine" ---- Gator baseball teams, like all others open the, season with a collection of goals. Florida's really don't change much from year to year and all the goals follow in chronological order. Win the SEC East. Win the SEC Championship. Win the SEC Tournament. Host a Regional. Win the Regional. Host a Super Regional. Win a Super Regional. Reach the finals of the College World Series. Win the College World Series. No Gator team has ever accomplished all of those goals, but this team is the first to knock off each of the first eight.

"53-17", "100" ---- The Gators have set a school record with 53 wins this season and with 36 games above the .500 mark is also the best UF has ever produced. Even a two-and-out in the finals would leave UF at a school record 34-games over .500 and, of course the wins mark will still stand. The Gators have won 100 games over the past two seasons, which is the highest two-year total UF has ever posted.

2.97 ERA, 1.8 W/game, 11 Shutouts, .975 fielding ---- The old adage says pitching and defense wins championships. While I don't generally buy into that cliche some do, so here are the numbers. Florida's staff ERA is the second best in the metal bat era (since 1974) and the 1.8 walks per game is also a school best. The Gators' 11 shutouts are also more than any other Florida pitching staff has registered. Add to that a fielding percentage that is by far the best in Gator history and you have a team that is better than any other Gator squad at limiting opponents' scoring.

Obviously, the Gators don't feel like they're done, and winning it all for the first time in school history is the ultimate goal. The Gators are well positioned for that accomplishment, but win or lose this is clearly the best season the Florida baseball program has ever had.

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