Arkansas baseball benching starter for home stretch, but for how long and who replaces him?
SEC Country reporter Eric W. Bolin will candidly answer your Arkansas Razorbacks sports queries each weekday in our Mailbag Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryHogs or by email to Eric at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Friday, May 11, 2018
It’s been a bit of a rough week for Arkansas baseball. The Diamond Hogs are coming off a series loss at LSU. Then, Keaton McKinney’s second Tommy John surgery announcement came. Now, first baseman Jordan McFarland has been demoted.
Probably. We think. Coach Dave Van Horn said he was looking for a different first baseman this weekend against Texas A&M, anyway.
McFarland, a sophomore first baseman/outfielder who has played on the bag most of SEC play, has struggled of late. His bat had kept him in the lineup; he hit .290 in 18 starts out of 24 league games. Fair, but not enough to overcome his woes in the field. They shouldn’t be a huge surprise if you’ve followed SEC Country for long. This is what was written about McFarland before the season began:
“McFarland has the power Gates lacks. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, he is, to use baseball parlance, a hoss. In 19 starts last year, he hit .271 and walked 9 times. He’s better at the plate than Gates. His footwork needs sharpening around the bag, though, which is part of the reason a timeshare, for a while, is figured. He might also play in the outfield.”
The feet and glove have been issues, especially over the last couple of weekends, most notably against LSU. Thus, Van Horn said he may be seeking an alternative.
At this point of the season, it would have seemed Van Horn had two options: Jared Gates and Evan Lee. Gates bats right; Lee is a lefty batter who also pitches. Gates can play second or third base. In SEC play, they are basically the same hitter.
- Gates: 6 of 24 (.250 batting average), 1 double, 1 home run, 5 RBI
- Lee: 5 of 20 (.250 batting average), 1 double, 2 home runs, 6 RBI
Then there is the actual answer. Van Horn said Thursday he would go with Hunter Wilson, at least, probably for Friday. Wilson has spent most of the season as a defensive replacement at third base, shortstop and second base. He is a light hitter, but carries arguably the slickest glove on the field.
Thus the reasoning, perhaps?
By weekend’s end, may see all three at the bag. Doesn’t ultimately matter which individual plays there, long as Arkansas gets the victories.