|Zach Putnam, Image from MGOBLUE.COM||Adam Abraham, Image from LEISA THOMPSON, THE ANN ARBOR NEWS|
With one week left until first pitch, I'm going to start doing a little bit of a build up for the baseball team this week. Today I'm starting with the players that left the team last year. As we get closer, I'll examine who's returning this year and what we might expect as we move closer. I also have previews put together for the BigEast/Big10 Challenge, or at least the BigEast Challengers. I skipped Purdue for the time being, mainly because I just haven't had time. Their sports information department was also very slow at getting information out on their website as well. They just finalized their schedule this month. So, to players lost (all stats pulled from Mgoblue.com):
|Nate Recknagel, Image from LEISA THOMPSON, THE ANN ARBOR NEWS||Adam Abraham, Image from BEN SIMON, MICHIGAN DAILY|
So that's a lot of loss. We lose nearly 52% of all of our at-bats, 3/4 of our infield, 61% of our runs scored, and about 47% of our stolen bases. That's awesome. [/sarcasm]. What the few many of us Michigan baseball fans must keep in mind this year is that last year's team might have been the best team we have had in over a decade, and while we do recruit well for a northern mid-major, we are no Rice, Tennessee, or South Carolina. Michigan doesn't just reload with extreme quality talent. Last year's team had a large group of upperclassmen who had several years on the field. The group of five starters are probably the best leaving/graduating class Michigan has had since the CWS runs in the 80s. It's never good to lose this many players. Luckily we are in a weak conference for baseball, so while these losses hurt, they aren't going to kill us.
|Derek VanBuskirk, Image from MGoBlue|
The good news on the pitching front is we aren't losing as many great stars. Last year's pitching was held together by the two aces on the mound, one of which being Zach Putnam. Along with DH'ing for the team, Putnam was also arguably our second best starter in the league (behind returning Wolverine Chris Fetter). Putnam ranked in the top 10 of all 13 pitching categories tracked by the Big10 last year. Our year ending closer was Michael Powers. Powers finished the year one of the top closers in the nation and was nearly unhittable in post season play. What's very worriesome for the upcoming year is the team ERA. The leaving players only allowed 2.65 earned runs per 9 innings while the rest of the team gave up 4.81.
|Michael Powers, Image from churl|