Pac-12 baseball power rankings: the top separating from the bottom
Arizona only winless team in conference
It’s amazing how long ago June feels, back when the Arizona baseball team strung together 10 consecutive postseason victories to win the 2012 College World Series.
Shirts that read ‘Wildcats own Omaha’ is what is predominantly remembered from that June title run. Fast-forward nine months to now, and those shirts might now read ‘Oregon owns Wildcats.’ The defending national champs are 0-6 this year in conference play and are sitting in dead last in the conference after being swept in consecutive weeks by Oregon State and Oregon.
Arizona baseball saw a similar slow start to conference play in 2008 when they opened Pac-10 play with a 3-7 record. However, that Wildcats team, which was led by first baseman C.J. Ziegler, managed to finish with a 12-12 conference record and place fourth in the standings. They also fell just one win short of reaching Omaha, but lost two of three games to Miami in the super regionals.
Though this year’s team and the 2008 team may seem similar, the 2008 squad still started off conference play 1-5 and were never swept, let alone swept in two consecutive series.
Rightfully so, no one on Arizona is panicking with 25 conference games still remaining. That being said, after a good week for many of the bottom conference teams, the Wildcats may want to hurry up the process before it’s too late.
Arizona State (13-7-1, 2-4 Pac-12)
As of right now, the Sun Devils are a little better than a middle of the road Pac-12 team. Within the conference they’re the third-ranked offense (.285 batting average) and have the fifth-ranked pitching staff (2.92 earned run average) in the Pac-12.
Arizona State mounted a fairly difficult non-conference schedule by beating then No. 3 Arkansas twice and taking two out of three at Tennessee. They’ve slipped a little early in conference play but might have the secret weapon to winning the conference title for the first time since 2009.
Freshman Ryan Kellogg ( 5-0) has made six appearances for the Sun Devils as the Saturday starter. Kellogg has a conference low 0.71 earn run average and solidified himself this past week as the early favorite to win conference pitcher of the year when he no-hit No. 4 Oregon State on the road in Arizona State’s 4-0 victory over the Beavers.
Kellogg went 9.0 innings, gave up zero runs on zero hits and walked zero batters. Two defensive errors by the Sun Devils kept Kellogg from pitching a perfect game but either way Saturday Arizona State established themselves as a team who could challenge Oregon State and UCLA for the conference title.
Utah (11-10, 2-4)
The Utes were not a team that was expected to compete in 2013. But after taking two of three on the road from an injured but still talented Stanford team Utah might be a little better than previously expected.
Averaging 4.8 runs per game, the Utes are not a team that is going to blow anyone out. But if you get in a pitching duel they have a staff that can hang with even Stanford’s.
Utah will play an Arizona team this weekend that is thirsty for a win but it will be interesting to see if the Utes can build off this past weekend’s success at Stanford and be a factor in the Pac-12.
Washington State (14-8, 2-1)
The Cougars are one of the best offenses in the conference. Washington State always seems to have a couple guys in its lineup that can hit a ball out of any ballpark. And in 2013 Yale Roen and Nick Tanielu are those two sluggers. Rosen posted a .386 batting average with 23 runs batted in and five home runs. Tanielu has a .419 batting average and is second in the conference with 36 hits.
The Cougars’ pitching staff is another story. Their 4.00 earned run average and conference low 138 strikeouts are what is keeping them from actually competing in the conference. However, if their pitching staff can find a rhythm Washington State could most definitely compete, but that is unlikely.
Arizona (15-11, 0-6)
The Wildcats are off to one of their worst starts under head coach Andy Lopez. With back-to-back series against the then No. 4 Oregon State and No. 12 Oregon, Arizona has easily had the hardest schedule so far in conference play but offensive weaknesses have been exposed. The lineup is still looking for an identity and proof is in the writing as Lopez completely changed the lineup this past Sunday.
A consistent Sunday starter is also a weakness that the Wildcats have. In non-conference play Lopez switched his Sunday starter multiple times and decided heading into their series with the Beavers that freshman Cody Moffett would be the go to Sunday guy. However, Moffett is 0-2 since then and has definitely looked shakier than he did prior to pac-12 play. The season is still long and there is plenty of time for Arizona to find its identity and roll.
1.No. 2 Oregon State (21-2, 5-1) Last week: 1
This week: at San Diego
Week two: W 5-0, L 4-0, W 4-3 vs. ASU
2. No. 7 UCLA (17-4, 5-1) Last week: 2
This week: at ASU
Week two: L 5-1, W 8-4, W 10-2 vs. California
3. Arizona State (13-7-1, 2-4) Last week: 4
This week: vs. UCLA
Week two: L 5-0, W 4-0, L 4-3 at Oregon State
4. No. 12 Oregon (18-6, 5-1) Last week: 3
This week: One game vs. Portland and vs. Washington
Week two: W 2-1, W 5-1, W 7-6 vs. Arizona
5. California (14-10, 4-2) Last week: 6
This week: One game at San Francisco and vs. USC
Week two: W 5-1, L 8-3, L 10-2 at UCLA
6. Washington State (14-8, 2-1) Last week: 8
This week: vs. Stanford
Week two: W 8-2, W 14-0, W 20-1 vs. Brown
7. Arizona (15-11, 0-6) Last week: 5
This week: vs. Utah
Week two: L 2-1, L 5-1, L 7-6 at Oregon
8. Stanford (11-7, 1-2) Last week: 7
This week: at Washington State
Week two: W 6-4, L 3-2 (10), L 7-5 vs. Utah
9. Utah (11-10, 2-4) Last week: 10
This week: at Arizona
Week two: L 6-4, W 3-2 (10), W 7-5 at Stanford
10. Washington (6-16, 2-4) Last week: 11
This week: at Oregon
Last week: L 5-4, W 3-1, W 8-3 vs. USC
11. USC (9-15, 2-4) Last week: 9
This week: at California
Last week: W 5-4, L 3-1, L 8-3 at Washington