Hating on Dave Van Horn? Crazy. This season is one of his best coaching jobs
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: Wednesday, May 23, 2018
This is hard to say right now because the season isn’t over. Any previous seasons would include the postseason, so let’s get that caveat out of the way up front.
The best coaching job, honestly, was his second season. Arkansas in 2004 was a great college baseball team. Look back at that roster. Only one player went on to Major League Baseball, and even he didn’t have much of a career at that level until the last couple seasons, in his early 30s. Those Razorbacks were 163rd in slugging and 148th in batting average in the nation and sixth in the SEC in earned-run average. They shouldn’t have made the College World Series on paper, and they did.
Flip side is 2008 Arkansas, which probably should have been a bit better. Three future MLB hitters and two future pitchers, and the Razorbacks were only 34-24 and lost in regionals. Good season. Not a great one.
This year comes closer to the first example than the second. Anyone who tells you Arkansas baseball has underachieved this year is an idiot. Plain and simple. Sorry to be so blunt about it, but these naysayers should probably not watch baseball anymore because they have no clue what is going on.
The Razorbacks are outstanding. Outstanding. And, believe it or not, this isn’t a team that is loaded with players expected to make it all the way to the big leagues. Blaine Knight is expected to be a high-round pick; Isaiah Campbell, too. After that, there’s a drop-off. Bryce Bonnin and Cole Turney, two players who have had minimal impact this year, are maybe the next two biggest future draft picks. Eric Cole, Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin are three team members who have played themselves into higher picks than when they arrived, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone say, “Oh, yeah, future big league players, definitely.”
Good players. Strong college baseball players. Sometimes those are the best teams, even. Guys who are playing for everything they can at this level. Guys such as Carson Shaddy and Luke Bonfield. They know that, probably, this is it. A career full of bus rides awaits. It’s up to Van Horn to get the most out of them when they come to this realization. And he’s doing a mighty fine job of it.