Vanderbilt is 6-1 ….Can They Continue?

In retrospect, it is good to look at where you have been to really understand where you may be going. Some may think this review is too early, but there are some early stats that deserve review. In this review, we will look at pitching, batting, and fielding stats in an effort to see who the early stat stars are.

In the preseason many had thought that Vanderbilt's pitching was young, talented, but largely unproven. Most felt that Sonny Gray, while only a sophomore, provided the most experience for this young staff and would be the cream of the crop. Early pitching stats may suggest that junior Taylor Hill may want to lead this young group of pitchers. Hill has started two games and has gone over six innings in each of those appearances against Niagara and USC. He is sitting on two wins and an impressive ERA of 0.71 to lead the Commodores thus far.

Chase Reid had a stellar effort in midweek against a tough APSU team, going six innings and giving up one run. He got no decision in that game but a fine performance gives him an ERA of 1.50. Sonny Gray pitched eight shut out innings in the opener but was roughed up in just over four innings by an impressive UCLA team. Gray has the talent to rise to the top but currently owns an ERA of 3.65. Jack Armstrong may have the most to prove at this early stage of the season. Coach Corbin has Armstrong slated as his Sunday starter, but if Armstrong is going to keep this spot in the rotation, he will have to give Vanderbilt more than four innings a game from the mound. He has an early win but an ERA of 4.50.

The bullpen has been exceptional thus far with Russell Brewer and Will Clinard combining for an ERA of 0.00 during 6.2 innings of relief. Corey Williams also provided solid relief over 3.2 innings and allowing only an ERA of 2.45. This bullpen looks strong and will be relied on heavily this season with Vanderbilt's young pitching staff.

As a team Vanderbilt is batting 0.342 thru the first seven games. Bryan Johns is the early dugout leader with a 0.500 batting average. Coach Corbin has quickly moved this hot bat up higher in the line-up, moving him from ninth to second in the order. Curt Casali has also had a hot early bat, with an average of 0.458, one homer and three doubles and six RBIs. The RBI title is up for battle with Jason Esposito and Andrew Giobbi both plating nine RBIs each. Esposito may be the most pleasant surprise though as he has two home runs, and three doubles. He only needed a triple to record a rare cycle against the APSU team last week. Aaron Westlake continues to stroke the ball and will be needed to perform if this team is going to make a run this season. Brian Harris gets the red badge of courage award for taking six hit by pitches in 19 plate appearances. Harris is still hitting 0.368 in spite of being a punching bag at the plate.

Vanderbilt has returned 7-of-9 positions in the field with two new outfielders. So far the team has had eight errors with six of these coming from catcher, pitcher, and first base. These fielding mishaps will surely decrease as this team gets more reps. Early in the season, Coach Corbin will be satisfied with a 0.977 fielding average this early in the season but hardier leather will be required to get this team deep into the playoff season.

The College Baseball Sports Writers Association has Vanderbilt at No. 25 this week and this team has proved thus far that they deserve such a ranking. Expect this young team to improve throughout the year as they continue to log game experience. Week 3 starts tomorrow, March 3 and there is only 50 games left before the SEC tournament!

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