A word on baseball RPI

It's time to take a look at RPI and how it will affect San Jose State baseball as it looks toward a spot in post-season play.

First, who's first? Fullerton is No. 1 in RPI, which is impressive considering their record of 22-9 as of April 12. No wonder they're always rated high in the rankings. Touch schedule and they win. Here is how the WAC stands:

Team RPI
Hawaii 10
San Jose State 62
New Mexico State 118
Nevada 131
Sacramento State 142
Fresno State 179
Louisiana Tech 265

Which team is just above San Jose State? USC is at 61 and New Mexico (now getting some love) is at 60. Below the Spartans are Missouri at 65, UCSB, which is at 70, and Cal sitting at 75.

Now, what does all this mean? First, if you're reading this and actually interested you know exactly what it means. RPI is an acronym for Relative Power Index, or what's more commonly called strength of schedule. It is not static because teams you've played or will play win and lose and become either a more worthy or less worthy opponent. Man, the details we fans follow.

The real reason I wanted to do this is to show people (and I was curious too) that SJSU's schedule is actually quite good. Chicago State, Cal State Bakersfield, and St. Joseph's didn't help the Spartans' RPI but beating them soundly did. Losing to them would have dropped the RPI. So, it's always better to win those games. Fresno State played CSU Bakersfield seven times and lost at least once. So their RPI fell. Louisiana Tech is at the bottom of the WAC because they have only a fair (at best) record against teams that have a low RPI. New Mexico State plays teams that have a low RPI (North Dakota, Chicago State, Hartford, Northern Colorado, etc.) but they have been pounding them so they're climbing. Get it?

Who has Fullerton played to be rated so highly? TCU, San Diego State, Stanford, Southern Mississippi, Texas A&M, Oklahoma St., Oral Roberts, Arizona State, and then all the members of the Big West Conference of which they are the premier member. All those out-of-conference teams are good. It's a tough row to hoe but they've done it and everyone knows they are one tough customer when it tournament time comes. The WAC is, unfortunately, fairly lowly rated and looking at the RPI for all the teams it is no surprise why. We as fans can be proud that SJSU as well as Hawai'i take on tough teams whereas Stanford, Cal, and Santa Clara are rated substantially below the boys in blue. There, feel better now? If the Spartans can continue to win, and they do well in the WAC tournament, I think they will be considered, if not selected, for the real tournament. I think I have enough money to get myself to Omaha. I have relatives in Lincoln and they'd let me flop on the floor and Valentino's still serves pretty good pizza (Cornhusker hangout).



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Don Starks is the Baseball Editor of Inside Sparta. You may contact Don with any questions, comments, or tips at don@insidesparta.com

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