NoleGameday

FSU Baseball Season Grades

There is often beauty in the face of tragedy. Take a car crash for example. There is something gripping about watching something so tragic that you can’t look away from what is happening. Watching the Seminoles play poorly over the past few weeks reminds me that this may only be the beginning of a downward spiral that may derail the season. This could also be a huge overreaction judging off of small sample sizes and injuries, let’s not forget that Florida State was a consensus top five team throughout the majority of the season. With the playoffs around the corner now is as good a time as any to assess the level of concern that Florida State fans should be having as regionals and Super Regionals approach as well as an overall assessment of how the Seminoles have performed up to this point.

Pitching

The starting pitching has been inconsistent all season for the Seminoles. Mike Compton, Drew Carlton, Cole Sands, Tyler Holton, and Ed Voyles have been the majority of the starters this season not including the two starts by Andrew Karp and Cobi Johnson before his Tommy John surgery. The biggest concern to the pitching staff has been the inability to consistently generate strikeouts and to go deep into games in terms of innings pitched. Drew Carlton leads the team in innings pitched with 73.0 on the season but he has been extremely hittable with a .275 batting average against and a 4.07 ERA. Tyler Holton and Cole Sands have been inconsistent all season, flashing signs of brilliance while also struggling with command and control. There is no question that both of the true freshmen are bright stars going forward in their college careers, but for the rest of this season they are both pretty significant question marks. Mike Compton has been battling right arm tendinitis over the past few weeks but returned to the mound against Miami in a relief appearance. He only pitched 0.2 innings and was hit hard in his return so that brings back questions of his health and his availability moving forward.

The bullpen, conversely, has been the main asset for the Florida State Seminoles this season. Led by Jim Voyles, Chase Haney, and Alec Byrd (1.48, 1.95, 2.12 ERAs respectively), the Seminole bullpen has been asked early and often to come in and provide valuable innings to give the team a chance to win. The main concern with the bullpen is whether or not the sheer amount of innings will cause the bullpen to regress in the games to come. Jim and Ed Voyles lead the bullpen with 42.2 and 41.1 innings respectively, and those numbers are only about 10-15 innings off the amount that some starters have for the pitching staff. The answer to the question remains to be seen, however there is no doubt that Florida State needs more innings out of the starting rotation.

Final Grade: C+

Florida State’s starting pitching has been their Achilles heel for the entirety of the season and there is no reason to expect the pitching to suddenly start pitching consistently. That being said, the bullpen has been arguably their biggest asset following the emergence of Jim Voyles.

The Optimist Perspective: Reliance on starting pitching and hot streaks from Drew Carlton coupled with the dominant stuff from Cole Sands and Tyler Holton should be able to allow Florida State to pitch through their troubles.

The Pessimist Perspective: Mike Compton’s injury is a sign of things to come, and the starting staff cannot provide enough innings as the overtaxed bullpen comes undone.

Offense

The Florida State offense has carried the Seminoles throughout the majority of the season, specifically games against weaker non-conference opponents. The Seminoles are scoring an impressive 7.2 runs per game this season although the offensive production has begun to wane recently. Against Duke and Miami, the highest single game run total for Florida State was only 5 and they went 2-4 in those six games. The offense has been led by the trio of John Sansone, Taylor Walls, and Cal Raleigh throughout the season and ever since Jackson Lueck was promoted to the starting lineup he has been arguably the best hitter. Sansone is enjoying a career season that looks like it will pay off with him being drafted in the first five rounds, Walls has been the spark at the top of the lineup that Ben DeLuzio was not as he leads the team in runs scored, and Raleigh has shows why it was such a big deal to steal him from Clemson at the eleventh hour over the offseason as the freshman leads the team in home runs with nine. The two key decisions that shaped the offense this season were promoting Taylor Walls to the lead off spot and dropping Ben DeLuzio to the bottom half of the order and to start Jackson Lueck everyday.

Final Grade: A-

Florida State’s offense has carried the team when the pitching could not. John Sansone has left a lasting impression on the Seminoles and Taylor Walls, Cal Raleigh, and Jackson Lueck look primed to lead the Florida State baseball program into the next generation.

The Optimist Perspective: The offense has carried the team all year and will continue to do so. If Florida State can get the runs per game number up to around 10 then it doesn’t matter who goes out on the mound.

The Pessimist Perspective The majority of the runs scored came against weak opponents (50 in three games against Rhode Island) and Florida State has had a knack for struggling against aces this season and this will prevent them from beating top tier opponents.

Defense

Florida State’s infield defense from 2015 looked vastly different from the infield defense in 2016. Dylan Busby switched from third base to first base, John Sansone moved from second base to third base, Matt Henderson transferred in to play second base, and Quincy Nieporte moved from first base to designated hitter. Ben DeLuzio returned as the only starting outfielder from 2015 as both Josh Delph and DJ Stewart moved on in the MLB Draft. The infield defense, particularly, was shaky early on as both Sansone and Henderson were making a lot of errors. Both eventually found their groove and settled in, and that is the theme of the defense this season: settling in after a rough start to the season. It will be important for the defense to be sharp going forward as it may fall upon the defense to bail out the pitching staff in the games to come.

Final Grade: B

The Optimistic Perspective: Florida State has hit their stride defensively as they have shaken off the rust and gotten better over the course of the season to be in peak form as the postseason starts.

The Pessimistic Perspective: The Seminole defense has benefited from not being tested and with honorable mentions to their outfield, specifically Ben DeLuzio, the infield defense will be exposed in the games to come.

Coaching

In his 37th season as head coach for the Florida State Seminoles Coach Mike Martin has had one of his best seasons to date. The Seminoles started off hot being ranked nationally in the top 5 throughout the season until about halfway. The Seminoles are currently enduring a tailspin and it will be up to Coach Martin to refocus the team on the postseason and the ACC tournament. Coach Martin and the coaching staff have made three key decisions that have molded the season. The first of those decisions was to move Taylor Walls to the lead off spot to replace Ben DeLuzio. It must have been a hard decision, considering DeLuzio’s speed and tenure on the team, but it was undoubtedly the right decision as Walls has flourished and become one of the Seminoles’ best hitters. The second decision was to suspend Gage West. Darren Miller left the team on his own due to a renewed focus on academics, but West was suspended by the coaching staff. Details on the suspension are unknown but the suspension opened up playing time for freshman outfielder, Jackson Lueck, who is the subject of the third major decision. Lueck has become one of Florida State’s best hitters and was rewarded with the starting left fielder job ever since West was suspended. Lueck’s emergence highlights a bigger point for the Seminole coaching staff: willingness to play and reliance on freshmen. Jackson Lueck, Cal Raleigh, Cole Sands, and Tyler Holton have been very important pieces to Florida State’s success this season and credit to the coaching staff for allowing their most talented players to play.

Final Grade: A

The Optimistic Perspective: Coach Martin and the Seminole coaching staff has turned in one of their finest performances to date and Coach Martin should have no problem re-energizing his time in order to prepare for a deep postseason run.

The Pessimistic Perspective: The coaching staff has been bailed out by good results but bad decision making. The postseason won’t be as forgiving as the teams are more talented and managerial decisions are always second guessed.

Overall

Florida State has defied my expectations for the majority of the season and while this recent stretch is concerning, I feel as if it is just simple regression. The Seminoles showing in the ACC Tournament is undoubtedly a good sign but the regionals are going to be a tough slate of games. Florida State’s offense was the biggest question coming into the season and it has become arguably the Seminoles’ biggest asset. Career seasons offensively. reliable options out of the bullpen, and emergence of freshmen have led the Seminole team to yet another great season.

Final Grade: A-


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *