College World Series, By The Numbers

Statistics don't always tell the whole story. But in the case of the Texas baseball team, their season-long statistics paint a pretty accurate picture with regard to how the Longhorns match up against the other seven teams in the College World Series.

First off, you'd probably think that the Longhorns excelled on defense, and you'd be right. Texas ranks in the top three in every defensive category, sitting first in fielding percentage (.982), opponents' batting average (.196) and saves (23). The Longhorns are second in ERA (2.27) and complete games (6), and third in strikeouts (555). No other team in the field displays that kind of defensive dominance, with Virginia coming the closest (more on Virginia in a bit).

Offensively, the picture isn't nearly as pretty. Texas ranks eighth — or last, in the eight-team field — in five offensive categories, including batting average (.272), runs per game (5.2), home runs (17), slugging percentage (.378) and on-base percentage plus slugging — also known as OPS — (.752). The Longhorns are sixth in on-base percentage (.374), fifth in stolen-base attempts (95) and stolen bases (75).

Despite the low on-base percentage, the Longhorns have been able to get by offensively by playing small-ball. Texas leads the CWS contenders by far in sacrifice bunts, laying down 109. The second-place team in that statistic, rival Texas A&M, laid down just 73. The Longhorns are also opportunistic in their running, converting on 78.9 percent of their stolen base attempts, second best in the remaining field.

Texas's opening-round opponent, the Florida Gators, couldn't be any more different. Florida is a ball-mashing team with power through the lineup, one that doesn't believe in small-ball and is among the worst defensive teams left.

The Gators rank first of the remaining teams in home runs (67) and slugging percentage (.468), and are second in batting average (.311) and OPS (.853). But the latter two numbers disguise a relatively poor on-base percentage (.385), a big part of the reason that, for all their power, Florida is in the middle of the pack in runs per game with 6.4.

Florida, more than any team in the field, doesn't play small-ball. Along with the aforementioned poor on-base percentage, the Gators are the only team in the field with more homers (67) than sacrifice bunts (59). And they aren't a strong running team either, ranking sixth in stolen base attempts (85) and stolen bases (56), while coming in seventh in stolen base percentage (65.9).

Defensively, things look worse. The Gators are tied for fourth in fielding percentage (.975) and fifth in strikeouts (504). And those are the high points. Florida had just two complete games from its pitchers this year, tied for sixth. The Gators are one of just two teams left with an ERA over three (3.01, good for seventh). They're also seventh in saves (14) and opponents' batting average (.245).


* While the Longhorns are the undisputed best defensive team in the field, Vanderbilt might be the top offensive team remaining. The Commodores are hitting .319 on the season, with a fantastic .406 on-base percentage and a .862 OPS. All are tops in the field. It doesn't come as any surprise, then, that Vanderbilt is tied for the most runs produced per game, at 7.1.

If you love stolen bases, or at least stolen-base attempts, tune in to watch Texas A&M. The Aggies are first in the field in both stolen base attempts (143) and stolen bases (107). But the most effective team at stealing bases is North Carolina. The Tar Heels were successful on 79.8 percent of their stolen base attempts.

Looking for a balanced team to watch? Look no further than Virginia. The Cavaliers are among the top defensive teams in the field, ranking first in ERA and strikeouts and second in opponents' batting average and fielding percentage. But the Cavaliers have also been successful on the offensive end. You won't find Virginia at the very top of any offensive categories except for the most important one: runs per game. In that, Virginia is tied with Vanderbilt at the top with 7.1 runs per game. So, to recap: Virginia puts up the most runs per game, and allows the fewest earned runs per game, of any team left.


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