The Puzzle of MSU Baseball in 2014

USA TODAY Sports

Many Mississippi State fans had a love hate relationship with the regular season of the 2014 baseball season. Here are some interesting notes from the season.

While most Mississippi State baseball fans knew it would be unfair to expect the Bulldogs to have a cakewalk to the College World Series and beyond in 2014, many walked away confused at times with the 2014 version of the Mississippi State baseball team in the regular season.

Here are a few things that made the season seem pretty crazy at times.

1. Mississippi State won seven series in SEC play in 2014. Only Florida finished better than Mississippi State by winning eight series. Those seven series included Georgia, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Missouri (sweep), Auburn (sweep), Tennessee, and Alabama.  Mississippi dropped a series to LSU (sweep), Ole Miss, and Texas A&M.  Even though the Bulldogs won seven series, nearly every series had a least one game where the Bulldogs could not manage to do much damage with the bats or made mistakes in the field.  Very few series left fans feeling 100% good about the way the team was playing.

2. The Bulldogs finished 18-12 in the SEC season, the most wins under John Cohen.  Even though the Bulldogs finished plus six in the win column, they only managed to score 12 more runs than their opponents in SEC play—120 runs scored vs. 108 runs given up—and had it not been for a 12 run performance on the Sunday game at Auburn, the gap would have been smaller. Another oddity-Mississippi State scored 17 runs in an SEC game (vs. Vanderbilt), and the Bulldogs also had 17 hung on them in an SEC game (at LSU).

While scoring may not have been Mississippi State's strong point, they more often than not got the hits and pitching they needed to win.  Would Mississippi State fans have liked to see more dominate winning margins? Absolutely, but the Maroon and White still got the wins.

3. In 2013, Mississippi State got of to a hot start, winning their first 17 games of the season (all non conference) before dropping a series 2-1 to Central Arkansas, a team that almost eliminated Mississippi State in the Starkville regional.  Overall, the Bulldogs finished non-conference play 23-2 in the regular season.

The record told a different story in 2014, as the Bulldogs dropped their season opener to Western Carolina, lost to Memphis, dropped two to Holy Cross, got slapped around a bit out west, and lost a midweek game to Jacksonville State.  For the year, the Bulldogs finished 17-8 in non-conference play.  The non-conference play in 2014 has brought about the worst implications for postseaon play, all but assuring Mississippi State will not host play this year.

What should Mississippi State fans take from this regular season.  Optimistic fans will say the Mississippi State played their best against the best, and more often than not, came out on top.  Pessimistic fans will say that the Bulldogs struggle against teams they should beat easily and play inconsistent baseball and may have been a bit lucky win seven SEC series.

Personally, this feels like a team that has all the tools needed for a deep postseason run.  If the bats come to life, the pitching can take this team very far.  The uncertainty surrounding this team should make the postseason quite a fun ride for Mississippi State fans.

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