Well, that was a weekend, huh?
Week 4 in SEC baseball was the most bonkers one yet. When the biggest story of the season had been the old guard struggling to keep up with the new blood, this past weekend nearly leveled everyone back.
Except Florida. What’s going on with Florida?
Vanderbilt, LSU, Ole Miss and Mississippi State resuscitated their SEC title hopes with series wins, while Arkansas, Kentucky, Auburn and South Carolina saw their grip on the lead slip. And two of those two teams still managed to go up in the poll.
It all created a big, ol’ mess in the Week 4 SEC Baseball Power Poll. Find here it every Monday on SEC Country.
14. Alabama (previously 13th)
Overall: 13-19, 2-10
Last week: 0-4 (lost to Troy, swept by Ole Miss)
Alabama lost to in-state foe Troy (don’t call ’em Troy State) and looked all out of sorts in being swept at Ole Miss. Everyone knew it would be a tough year, but not sure who anticipated two SEC wins in the Crimson Tide’s first 12 games.
13. Georgia (12)
Overall: 14-19, 4-7
Last week: 1-3 (lost to Clemson, lost series to Missouri)
As far as fans in Athens are concerned, it’s too early to start playing the stay-out-of-the-bottom-two game. But for everyone else, that’s about what it’s looking like for Georgia this year. The two teams who finish in 14th and 13th in the SEC do not qualify for the SEC Baseball Tournament at the end of May. A series loss to Mizzou isn’t going to help the Bulldogs pull themselves out of that ignominious race.
12. Missouri (10)
Overall: 23-9, 5-6
Last week: 2-2 (lost to Illinois, won series against Georgia)
The Tigers had lost seven straight games until their win Friday over Georgia in Game 2 of that series. A season-opening sweep of Alabama is keeping Missouri’s record in league play from looking worse than the Tigers are playing, though.
11. Tennessee (14)
Overall: 17-12, 3-9
Last week: 2-2 (lost to Middle Tennessee State, won series against Florida)
The truth about Tennessee baseball lies somewhere in-between. No, the Vols aren’t as good as the team that started the year 12-2 and cracked the Top 25. But they’re not as bad as the team that began SEC play 1-8, either. The series win over Florida is impressive and trends Tennessee back up to that early-season standing. Keeping it up is the question.
10. Ole Miss (11)
Overall: 20-12, 6-6
Last week: 4-0 (beat Southern Miss, swept Alabama)
As good as Ole Miss looked, it’s hard to bump the Rebels too much. Alabama is a pretty bad baseball team, for SEC standards. Plus, the series was in Oxford. What gains Ole Miss more traction is the win over Southern Miss, a team that some have projected as high as a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament. If nothing else, the Rebels created a logjam in the SEC West standings now, which is a good thing considering where they were.
9. Texas A&M (9)
Overall: 22-11, 5-7
Last week: 3-1 (beat Dallas Baptist, won series against Auburn)
NCAA Tournament hopes hanging by a thread, Texas A&M went out and beat a top-10 team in the nation. Sure, Auburn was a bit overrated, but the Aggies showed they’re better than what their SEC record suggested. Texas A&M is hardly a lock for the postseason (let’s be fair, the SEC season isn’t even half-over, no one is a lock), but like Ole Miss, trending upward is a good thing. Just couldn’t move the Aggies this week.
8. Florida (5)
Overall: 21-11, 6-6
Last week: 1-2 (lost series to Tennessee)
Things are in danger of slipping away in Gainesville. Florida continues to have professional talent, especially on the mound, but this is a team that simply cannot hit. The Gators are last in the SEC in batting average (.245), slugging (.360) and on-base percentage (.335). You can have all the arms in the world, but if you’re not scoring runs, ain’t gonna win.
7. Auburn (4)
Overall: 24-10, 8-4
Last week: 1-3 (lost to Georgia Tech, lost series to Texas A&M)
We were anticipating Auburn to regress, and that happened against the Yellow Jackets and Aggies. Those games were winnable contests. Over the next eight days, Auburn has games at Samford, three at Tennessee and one at Kennesaw State. A winning week feels important.
6. Vanderbilt (8)
Overall: 21-12, 6-6
Last week: 3-1 (beat Tennessee-Martin, won series against South Carolina)
Still not the Commodores that folks expected at the beginning of the year, but a convincing series win over the highest-ranked team in the SEC looks good. They’re still too reliant on the big three in the lineup, but the bullpen has been aces. You can see them making a real move up the table soon. Florida comes to Nashville this weekend.
5. South Carolina (1)
Overall: 21-10, 7-5
Last week: 2-2 (beat Furman, lost series to Vanderbilt)
The Gamecocks have some of the best starting pitching, maybe even overall pitching, in the SEC. But like Florida, their problem has been hitting. South Carolina’s issues at the plate aren’t as pronounced as Florida’s — instead of being last in everything, USC is more ‘meh,’ bottom third in hitting — but they’re evident and have let others catch up.
4. LSU (6)
Overall: 22-11, 7-5
Last week: 3-1 (beat Grambling, won series against Arkansas)
LSU probably didn’t deserve to leave Fayetteville, Ark., with a series win. OK. Definitely didn’t. The Razorbacks beat themselves in Game 2. But Game 3 was all LSU. The Tigers have a good rotation, decent lineup, a star hitter in Greg Deichmann, and a pretty bad bullpen. All of it makes for exactly what LSU has done — good, not great, but going north.
3. Mississippi State (7)
Overall: 22-12, 8-4
Last week: 3-2 (split series with Florida International, won series against Kentucky)
The most impressive week for any team in the SEC belongs to Mississippi State. The Bulldogs took two of three from Kentucky in Starkville and continued to get Golden Spikes-like numbers from Brent Rooker. He is an absolute star and could win the SEC for a team that was swept opening weekend. Crazy.
2. Arkansas (3)
Overall: 25-8, 8-4
Last week: 3-2 (won two against Grand Canyon, lost series to LSU)
Wait. Arkansas lost to LSU and moved up in the Power Poll? Yes, we told you it was a maddening week. Here’s why: South Carolina, which was No. 1, lost. Auburn, which was fourth, lost. Florida was fifth and lost. LSU was sixth and did beat the Razorbacks but should not have, and it still trails Arkansas in the standings. Saturday’s loss was especially disheartening (Diamond Hogs were ahead 8-1 and lost 10-8) for the team, but without a meltdown, Arkansas wins that series and we’re all talking completely different about the Hogs.
1. Kentucky (2)
Overall: 22-11, 8-4
Last week: 1-3 (lost to Louisville, lost series to Mississippi State)
Not only did Arkansas lose and move up, Kentucky did, too. Weird, we know. But this conference is an absolute mess, in the best possible way. Kentucky is one of four teams with an 8-4 record, and though the Wildcats lost at Mississippi State, they get some benefit of the doubt. Heck, they could have won that series, too. It was close.
The truth is, there is not a lot separating the top seven teams in this league right now. Anyone who tells you differently is kidding. This season has the makings of a tremendous back half.
SEC baseball. Enjoy it.