Another weekend of SEC play has come and gone, and the league still proves to be tough to figure out, especially the teams in the middle of the pack.
As you will see, our voters have seemed to settle on South Carolina and Vanderbilt being the top of the class while the bottom four of Arkansas, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Missouri remained unchanged. A view of the average rankings of the teams in spots three through eleven show different clusters falling into the upper and lower halves of the middle of the pack.
1. South Carolina (Eight First Place Votes) (Average: 1.00)
Overall Record: (25-3, 6-3)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. College of Charleston, 1-0 vs. Coastal Carolina, 3-0 vs. Tennessee
Thoughts on the Gamecocks:
-- Starting to look more and more like the division front-runner we expected. Still, they could do it without the theatrics.--Brandon Larrabee
-- Saw the Gamecocks in person on Sunday against UT, and I think they're definitely tops in the league at the moment. Pitching and hitting both seem to be clicking.
-- The Gamecocks have won three SEC games in walk-off fashion, including two walk-off homers against Tennessee on Saturday. This team is talented and clutch.
-- Back on track after losing the series at Kentucky.
2. Vanderbilt (Average: 2.00)
Overall Record: (24-6, 5-4)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Belmont, 2-1 vs. Kentucky
Thoughts on the Commodores:
-- Bounced back from a series loss against Mississippi State to take two of three from Kentucky. The schedule sets up well for the Commodores over the next few weekends.
-- Dropped the opener but came back and took care of business against a Wildcats team coming in fresh off an impressive series win over USC. Vandy is legit.
-- I still get the feeling that we haven't seen this team play its best baseball. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Lurking just out of the top spot. Was the good hitting vs. Kentucky the start of something?
3. Mississippi State (Average: 4.50)
Overall Record (20-10, 6-3)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Southeast Missouri, 2-1 vs. Arkansas
Thoughts on Mississippi State:
-- The Dawgs have won each of their first 3 SEC series, taking 2 from Arkansas over the weekend. A trip to LSU upcoming will be a big test for the Dawgs. If they can find a way to take 2 of 3 in Baton Rouge, State will be competing for the SEC regular season title.
-- Got shut out in the opener against Arkansas, but rebounded to take the series and continue the momentum from last weekend's series win against Vandy. MSU is getting it together.
-- The complete reverse of Tennessee: High preseason expectations, face plant in the nonconference schedule, playing well in the SEC.--Brandon Larrabee
-- The Bulldogs are the only team to win all three of their SEC series so far. Ross Mitchell threw another complete game gem on Saturday against Arkansas. A series win against LSU next weekend could solidify MSU's spot in the upper echelon of SEC teams.
4. Florida (Average: 5.60)
Overall Record: (18-9, 6-3)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Florida State, 3-0 vs. LSU
Thoughts on the Gators:
-- Defeating rival Florida State seems to have lit a fire under the Gators and vauted them into a tie for the East lead after taking the broom to LSU.
-- Has very quietly emerged as a contender in the SEC East.--Brandon Larrabee
-- Runs! The Gators found runs! After scoring just 12 runs in 3 games at A&M last weekend, UF put up 11 in Sunday's game alone to wrap up a much-needed sweep. The SEC appears set on cannibalizing itself.
-- After losing a series to Texas A&M, Florida has beat Florida State and swept LSU. Never know what you'll get with this team.
5. Alabama (Average: 5.63)
Overall Record: (20-8, 6-3)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Troy, 3-0 vs. Ole Miss
Thoughts on the Crimson Tide:
-- A sweep of Ole Miss keeps Alabama tied for first place in the SEC West with MSU. Not bad for a team with modest expectations coming into league play.
-- Lose a series at Arkansas, and then come home and sweep an Ole Miss team that was playing some quality baseball.
-- It's not fair. You guys already run football; leave baseball to someone else. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Took the broom to a good Ole Miss team. Improving.
6. Kentucky (Average: 6.00)
Overall Record: (20-9, 4-5)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Xavier, 1-2 vs. Vanderbilt
Thoughts on the Wildcats:
-- Unable to totally build on the momentum of last weekend's surprising series win against South Carolina, but it was always going to be a challenge on the road when Vandy badly wanted a bounce-back series win.
-- Looks like they might just hang around in the SEC East, even if they don't ever really catch up to the Top 3. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Still hitting the ball well, but the young bullpen is starting to flag a little.
7. LSU (Average: 6.13)
Overall Record: (21-8-1, 3-5-1)
Last Week: 0-1 vs. Tulane, 0-3 vs. Florida
Thoughts on the Tigers:
-- It's rare to see an LSU team that's just bad. Rarer still to see an LSU team that's just bad because of the offense. But it's getting harder to draw any other conclusion about this team. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Getting swept by Florida has put a dent in their armor. Still a dangerous team.
-- Yuck. Not a good week for the Tigers. 4 losses in a row, and swept by a Florida team who previously was all sorts of offensively challenged. LSU somehow sits in last place in the West. Won't last long, but still...
-- They are 3-9-1 in their last 10 games and are currently at the bottom of the SEC West. Enjoy making fun of them while you can, because I don't think they will finish there.
-- Suddenly in desperation mode after getting swept by Florida. Huge series coming next weekend against Mississippi State.
8. Ole Miss (Average: 6.75)
Overall Record (22-8, 4-5)
Last Week: 0-1 vs. Southern Mississippi, 0-3 vs. Alabama
Thoughts on the Rebels:
-- Dropped a midweek game to Southern Miss and then got swept in Tuscaloosa.. But lost those 4 games by a combined 6 runs.
-- Look at the number of close games that the Rebels won early in the year. Then look up "regression toward the mean." -- Brandon Larrabee
-- The Rebels are regressing back to the mean after their hot start to the season.
-- Pitching getting hammered lately, but hitting the ball really well.
9. Tennessee (Average: 9.50)
Overall Record: (19-8, 3-6)
Last Week: 0-3 vs. South Carolina
Thoughts on the Volunteers:
-- THUD. That's the sound of the Vols suddenly coming back down to earth after losing 5 of their last 6 games.
-- Losers of 5 of their last six. The bloom appears to be off the rose.
-- The financial industry of 2008 collapsed more gradually than this team. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- SEC play has arrived and proven the Vols were fool's gold.
-- Learned the hard way that beating South Carolina is not easy.
10. Auburn (Average: 10.00)
Overall Record: (19-11, 5-4)
Last Week: 1-0 vs. Kennesaw State, 1-2 vs. Missouri
Thoughts on the Tigers:
-- They are the laughing stock of the league this week after losing a series to Missouri.
-- [Remembers they lost a series to Missouri] [Shakes head sadly] -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Was on a bit of a roll, but really faltered versus cellar-dweller Mizzou
-- Losing a series at home to Missouri is, well, the opposite of good.
-- Just when things were looking up for Auburn, they drop two out of three to lowly Missouri.
11. Arkansas (Average: 10.63)
Overall Record: (18-11, 4-5)
Last Week: 3-0 vs. Mississippi Valley State, 1-2 vs. Mississippi State
Thoughts on the Razorbacks:
-- The Razorbacks' bats are holding this team back as they have scored one or zero runs in five of their nine SEC games. That won't get it done in the current gauntlet portion of their schedule as they face South Carolina, LSU and Vanderbilt in the next three weekends.
-- Like much of the rest of the conference, the Hogs seem to fare better at home than on the road. The schedule coming up though? USC, LSU, Vandy in consecutive weeks. OUCH.
-- When these guys play LSU, all three games will go to 17 innings. Five runs will be scored. -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Sturdy pitching beginning to pay off.
12. Texas A&M (Average: 11.56)
Overall Record: (18-12, 4-5)
Last Week: 0-1 vs. Sam Houston State, 1-2 vs. Georgia
Thoughts on the Aggies:
-- Well, the Florida series win looks a bit better after the Gators swept LSU but losing a series to Georgia negates that and then some. The offense is an inconsistent mess & who knows what the starting lineup will look like from one game to the next.
-- Lost two out of three to Georgia over the weekend. Have to win some the series against less-talented teams if you want to compete in the SEC.
-- Does anybody have any strong impression about this team? -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Not hitting the ball bad but struggling to score.
13. Georgia (Average: 12.50)
Overall Record: (16-12-1, 3-5-1)
Last Week: 0-1 vs. Clemson, 2-1 vs. Texas A&M
Thoughts on the Bulldogs:
-- Picked up a nice series win over an A&M team who can't figure out any sort of offensive identity. Robert Tyler is pretty good, but Georgia as a whole still probably aren't that great.
-- Not as bad as they were last year. But there's a lot of space between that and "good." -- Brandon Larrabee
-- Meandering along, but starting to score some runs. If they had any pitching, they'd be dangerous.
-- The cellar of the SEC East came alive this weekend with Georgia and Missouri stealing series wins against Texas A&M and Auburn.
14. Missouri (Average: 13.88)
Overall Record: (13-14, 3-6)
Last Week: 2-1 vs. Auburn
Thoughts on the Tigers:
-- Maybe they know something about hardball after all.--Brandon Larrabee
-- Not sure if that series says more about Auburn or Missouri.. But hey, a series win is a series win so credit where it's due I suppose.
-- Won a big series at Auburn. Sign, or blip on the radar?
That's it for this week. As always, thanks to all that voted, and readers, let us know what we got right and what we missed.