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2018 Virginia Baseball: How? The Stats

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A lack of depth on the mound and struggles at bat contributed to the anomaly that was 2018.

Virginia Media Relations

This is the first of a three-part series looking back at just how Virginia’s 2018 baseball season became an outlier after 14 straight years of postseason success. You can read Part 1 here.

Yesterday we looked at the injuries that formed a perfect storm for the 2018 Virginia Baseball season. As we continue trying to explain this outlier of a season came to be, we next turn to the statistical outputs for the season and compare them to the previous four seasons to see where the shortcomings were.

Before we dive in, instead of taking a look at pure numbers, I averaged everything out to a per game basis since the 2018 season was the shortest of the five. Some of these numbers could be misleading since the previous four seasons’ teams faced difficult opponents in the postseason which could have inflated pitching numbers or deflated hitting numbers. We did what we could.

BATTING

2018 UVA Baseball Batting Statistics

Season BA OBP SLG HR Walks Ks Steals Runs/game
Season BA OBP SLG HR Walks Ks Steals Runs/game
2018 0.270 0.363 0.378 0.500 5.278 5.741 34-47 5.593
2017 0.321 0.405 0.478 1.034 5.339 3.949 77-91 7.780
2016 0.304 0.375 0.44 0.700 4.317 4.833 27-47 6.833
2015 0.271 0.357 0.371 0.515 4.809 5.044 44-74 5.250
2014 0.28 0.375 0.377 0.478 4.261 4.971 66-86 5.478

Right off the bat it is clear there was a problem at the plate in 2018. As was pointed out in the first part of our series, losing Jake McCarthy and Cam Simmons to a significant part of the season and the entire season, respectively, kept a lot of experienced talent out of the lineup. The 2018 team batted just .270 on the season, the lowest of the previous five seasons, and only had an on base percentage of .363. Though the slugging of .378 was helped in large part to averaging a home run once every two games, they struck out just under six times a game; far and away the worst rate of the five seasons.

All that led to this team averaging just under 6 runs a game. Even though the 2014 and 2015 teams averaged fewer, they also played to the championship series of the College World Series facing stiff competition in the Regionals, Supers, and College World Series.

PITCHING

2018 UVA Baseball Pitching Stats

Season ERA Ks vs. BA BB Guys w/starts WHIP HR
Season ERA Ks vs. BA BB Guys w/starts WHIP HR
2018 4.15 10.537 0.244 3.796 9 1.341 44
2017 4.10 8.186 0.232 3.966 7 1.315 56
2016 4.22 6.917 0.248 3.617 9 1.335 45
2015 3.49 8.088 0.237 4.118 8 1.321 36
2014 2.23 8.130 0.201 2.899 8 1.027 23

While there’s no clear indicator similar to the lowest batting average in five seasons, the trends are there, and the pitching staff had clear struggles as well.

When looking at the numbers, the 2018 season is really only comparable to the 2016 season. A 4.15 ERA and .244 batting average against in 2018 compared to a 4.22 ERA and .248 batting average against in 2016. None of the other three seasons come even close. Yes, 2017’s staff had a 4.10 ERA, but also had a .232 batting average against, a 12 point improvement over 2018.

Another key number from the statistics, though not truly dealing with pitchers against batters is how many starters UVa used over the course of the season. Again referencing back to all the injuries, if Coach O’Connor had just one more starter to use throughout the season, it could have resulted in two, three, or maybe even four more wins on the season, which could have gotten UVa in the postseason.

In all, the 2018 team struggled not only on the mound but at the plate as well. This could have been the result of all the injuries, or maybe just bad luck. What is clear is that in the past four years, when one aspect struggled, the other was able to carry some of the load.

That did not happen in 2018 further solidifying that this past season was just what we all hope it was, an outlier.