After a phenomenal season that saw the Noles continually win games that many thought would be
impossible improbable they start another year where their success again raises many questions.
#FSU lost 6 of their 7 best players, return only 2 JR/SRs with 200 ABs from last year & I still predict 40 Wins. Only 1 explanation...POISE— RaysnNoles (@RodMahoney) February 14, 2013
Aaron Fitt probably sums up the way things work in Tallahassee the best:
The Seminoles don't rebuild; they retool, and they win 40 or 50 games, and they compete for conference championships, regardless of roster turnover. This program has earned the benefit of the doubt. FSU will be good, even if it won't be the clear-cut favorite in the ACC.
Now I realize I might be putting the cart before the horse here, giving you my thoughts and predictions on each series without telling you about the players who will actually be participating. Well, read thoroughly, digest it, possibly do some research of your own, sleep on it and then read the season preview tomorrow during lunch and make up your own mind. Let's get started with how the Noles finished last season.
Final RPI via NCAA, Preseason Rank and Projections via Baseball America
2012 Results: Overall 50 - 17 : Conference 24 - 6 : Non-Conf. 18 - 6 : Post Season 7 - 5
Final RPI: 3 NCAA Tournament: 2-2 in the CWS
Preseason Rank: 20 Projected: 2nd Place finish in ACC Atlantic (Projected NCAA Team)
Now on to the opponents:
The "Lets figure out who is going to play where" Games:
Rhode Island - 3 Home Games - 2/15 - 2/17
2012 Results: Overall 33 - 25 : Conference 16 - 8 : Non-Conf. 16 - 15 : Post Season 1 - 2
Final RPI: 126 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 2nd Place finish in Atlantic 10
Villanova - 3 Home Games - 3/1 - 3/3
2012 Results: Overall 27 - 27 : Conference 10 - 17 : Non-Conf. 17 - 10 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 187 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 11th (Last) Place finish in Big East
Presbyterian - 2 Home Games - 3/5 - 3/6
2012 Results: Overall 24 - 31 : Conference 10 - 14 : Non-Conf. 14 - 17 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 156 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 4th Place finish in Big South (South Division)
Over the past four years the Seminoles have comprised a 26-0 record against the typical early season opponents, most of which hail from the North and are still in the infancy of their preparations. Florida State
did not play any of the above teams last year but took care of business against Hofstra and Maine, defeating them by a margin of 73-18 in six wins. EDIT: They played URI in March and won 17-6, 2-0 and 6-5. Coaches and players will overhype these Northern teams but in reality they are not really any good. There are not any shutdown aces on the teams that could allow them to steal a win so not finishing off these games with a perfect 8-0 record would be a disappointment.
The Midweek "Let's keep fans happy" Games:
Jacksonville - 1 Home Game - 2/19, 1 Away Game - 4/3
2012 Results: Overall 18 - 38 : Conference 7 - 20 : Non-Conf. 11 - 18 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 225 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 9th Place finish in Atlantic Sun
Stetson - 2 Home Games - 3/19 - 3/20, 2 Away Games - 5/7 - 5/8
2012 Results: Overall 35 - 23 : Conference 15 - 12 : Non-Conf. 19 - 8 : Post Season 1 - 2
Final RPI: 61 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 5th Place finish in Atlantic Sun
Florida Gulf Coast - 2 Home Games - 4/2 - 4/3
2012 Results: Overall 26 - 31 : Conference 16 - 14 : Non-Conf. 9 - 17 : Post Season 2 - 2
Final RPI: 94 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 1st Place finish in Atlantic Sun (Projected NCAA Team - AQ)
Runners "Left on Base" seems to be the only issue that has fans more frenzied and upset than losing a midweek game against an inferior opponent. Is Florida State better than any of the above teams? Absolutely. Does that mean they should sweep these teams? Not likely, midweek games are used by coaches at elite programs to "try things out", they use their pitchers differently, have them work on certain pitches and conserve pitch counts. Offensively these are the games where bench guys see more action than they would in a weekend series and a player may be trying out a new position. All of that combined with the difficulty of getting hyped of for a road game in Deland and the opposing team actually excited about playing, a defeat at the hands of one of these teams is normal. Last season Florida State finished 5-2 against the above teams and a rain out against FGCU, with eight games scheduled I think a 6-2 record would be acceptable.
The "Upper Echelon In-state" Games:
USF - 3 Home Games - 2/22 - 2/24
2012 Results: Overall 38 - 22 : Conference 17 - 10 : Non-Conf. 17 - 10 : Post Season 4 - 2
Final RPI: 71 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 6th Place finish in Big East
Florida - 1 Home 4/9, 1 Away 3/12, 1 Neutral 3/26
2012 Results: Overall 47 - 20 : Conference 18 - 12 : Non-Conf. 22 - 4 : Post Season 7 - 4
Final RPI: 2 NCAA Tournament: Finished 0-2 in CWS
Preseason Rank: 17 Projected: 4th Place finish in SEC East (Projected NCAA Team)
UCF - 3 Home Games - 5/3 - 5/5
2012 Results: Overall 45 - 17 : Conference 16 - 8 : Non-Conf. 25 - 6 : Post Season 4 - 3
Final RPI: 21 NCAA Tournament: Finished 2-2 in Coral Gables Regional
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 5th Place finish in Conference USA (Projected NCAA Team)
Florida State does an excellent job of scheduling the right amount of competitive out-of-conference games and I think again nailed it this year. South Florida comes into Tallahassee the second weekend of the season with a three brand new starters still in search of their first tournament appearance in over a decade. Once again the Seminoles and Gators square off in a non-weekend series, Florida State will look for payback from the sweep that Florida gave them a year ago. The Gators find themselves in a similar situation as Florida State with regards to losing players via the draft and injury. Central Florida is coming off a strong season where they won two games in a difficult Regional bracket. The Knights return two solid starting pitchers that could easily make this a very competitive series. The Noles went 2-3 last season against UCF and Florida, a record better than 5-4 versus these teams would be considered a success.
The "Wait? Are we really playing this game?" game:
South Alabama -Home Game - 4/16
2012 Results: Overall 23 - 34 : Conference 15 - 15 : Non-Conf. 6 - 18 : Post Season 1 - 2
Final RPI: 159 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 5th Place finish in Sun Belt
The NCAA allows for a maximum of 56 games to be played in the regular season so teams typically schedule 57 games in case of a rain out or other unforeseen circumstances. This happened last season when FGCU game was canceled due to weather and the Noles played North Georgia. For some reason Florida State only has 56 games on the schedule so they will hopefully crush a poor Alabama team the third Tuesday in April
ACC Home Games:
Boston College - 3 Games - 3/8 - 3/10
2012 Results: Overall 22 - 33 : Conference 10 - 20 : Non-Conf. 12 - 13 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 97 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 6th Place finish in ACC Atlantic
Georgia Tech - 3 Games - 3/22 - 3/24
2012 Results: Overall 38 - 26 : Conference 12 - 18 : Non-Conf. 20 - 6 : Post Season 6 - 2
Final RPI: 28 NCAA Tournament: 2-2 in Gainesville Regional
Preseason Rank: 16 Projected: 2nd Place finish in ACC Coastal (Projected NCAA Team)
Duke - 3 Games - 4/12 - 4/14
2012 Results: Overall 21 - 34 : Conference 9 - 21 : Non-Conf. 12 - 13 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 134 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 6th Place finish in ACC Coastal
Wake Forest - 3 Games - 4/26 - 4/28
2012 Results: Overall 33 - 24 : Conference 13 - 17 : Non-Conf. 19 - 5 : Post Season 1 - 2
Final RPI: 39 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 5th Place finish in ACC Atlantic
Clemson - 3 Games - 5/16 - 5/18
2012 Results: Overall 35 - 28 : Conference 16 - 14 : Non-Conf. 16 - 10 : Post Season 3 - 4
Final RPI: 30 NCAA Tournament: 2-2 in South Carolina Regional
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 3rd Place finish in ACC Coastal (Projected NCAA Team)
Florida State finished with a superb conference home record last season going 13-2 against a tough slate that included three tournament teams, two of which hosted Supers. Cross divisional foes do not change this year so last year's home and away are just flipped. The ACC opener brings in Boston College who should again be one of the worst teams in the conference, they won the Sunday game last year in an uncharacteristical drubbing of the Noles. Despite injuries and an awful conference record Georgia Tech made the postseason where they won two games in the Gators Regional bracket. The Jackets start the season ranked four spots ahead of Florida State and like every year have loads of talent, despite playing them at home this season another sweep would be unrealistic.
For the first time in a couple of years there is a baseball series during the Spring Game weekend, it might only be Duke but at least it is baseball. Duke's "success" last year was primarily due to the right arm of first round draft pick Marcus Stroman, he's gone and so is their head coach, winning nine conference games again this year will be a struggle for the Blue Devils. The Demon Deacons actually had a winning record last season and qualified for the ACC Tournament where they notched a win over NCST. Only BC will keep them from finishing last in the division this year.
Three games with Clemson closes out the regular season, a year ago this was the only conference series Florida State lost all season. Similar to the Seminoles, the Tigers have a lot of holes to fill but did have one of the better recruiting classes, this series could potentially decide the division champ. The Seminoles should win every home series this season, finishing in the ballpark of 12-3 is a good goal.
ACC Away Games:
Maryland - 3 Games - 3/15 - 3/17
2012 Results: Overall 32 - 24 : Conference 10 - 20 : Non-Conf. 22 - 4 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 32 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 4th Place finish in ACC Atlantic
Virginia Tech - 3 Games - 3/29 - 3/31
2012 Results: Overall 32 - 21 : Conference 11 - 19 : Non-Conf. 23 - 2 : Post Season 0 - 0
Final RPI: 38 NCAA Tournament: DNQ
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 5th Place finish in ACC Coastal
Miami - 3 Games - 4/5 - 4/7
2012 Results: Overall 35 - 23 : Conference 16 - 14 : Non-Conf. 17 - 5 : Post Season 2 - 4
Final RPI: 17 NCAA Tournament: 0-2 in Coral Gable Regional
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 3rd Place finish in ACC Coastal (Projected NCAA Team)
Virginia- 3 Games - 4/16 - 4/21
2012 Results: Overall 39 - 19 : Conference 18 - 12 : Non-Conf. 18 - 4 : Post Season 3 - 3
Final RPI: 14 NCAA Tournament: 1-2 in Charlottesville Regional
Preseason Rank: NR Projected: 4th Place finish in ACC Coastal (Projected NCAA Team)
NC State - 3 Games - 5/11 - 5/13
2012 Results: Overall 43 - 20 : Conference 19 - 11 : Non-Conf. 19 - 4 : Post Season 5 - 5
Final RPI: 13 NCAA Tournament: 0-2 in Gainesville Super Regional
Preseason Rank: 8 Projected: 1st Place finish in ACC Atlantic (Projected NCAA Team)
Taking another look at the teams directly above and the fact that Florida State went 13-2 against them is amazing. Their first road trip takes place in College Park where I think they are something like 150-2 all time. That might be exaggerating but the Noles have owned the Terripans and their 2012 winning record is a product of playing a putrid out-of conference schedule. The Hokies played well last year in Tallahassee and return a potent offense that could give the Noles issues.
Miami and Virginia both hosted Regionals last year and the Seminoles swept them both. Miami had one of the best pitching staffs in the country but unlike Mike Martin, the Hurricanes' Jim Morris has not adapted his coaching style and continually costs Miami runs and opportunities of winning more games. Like Miami, Virginia did not make it out of its own Regional bracket and the season was viewed as another disappointing one. Similar to the Seminoles and Tigers the Cavaliers have a lot of young players in key positions, if Florida State can go 3-3 in those two series that would be huge.
The Wolfpack have arguably the best pitcher in the country in Carlos Rodon which means winning a series versus them becomes extremely difficult. NC State didn't lose a home series last year and are the favorites to win the Atlantic Division. Nine wins and six losses on the road this season would make me happy and it would hopefully put the Seminoles in contention for a regular season ACC Title.
If you don't follow college baseball closely you probably don't know that the North Carolina Tarheels are one of the most talented teams in the country an hold a couple of preseason #1 rankings. What you did probably notice if you have read this far is that the Noles do not play them in the regular season, that is a big help especially since division rivals Clemson and North Carolina State do.
Florida State currently has four teams on their schedule that start the season ranked in the Top 25 and ten teams that finished the 2012 season with an RPI in the Top 50. They face off against seven NCAA tournament teams from last year, four of whom hosted and eight teams projected to make the tournament this year. Taking all of that into consideration and all of the new faces that we will learn about tomorrow I still have the Seminoles finishing with 40 wins. A more accurate count has the totals as follows; 41-15 overall with a 21-9 in the ACC, if my predictions are close it would be hard to call the season anything but a success and a very promising 2014 and beyond.
Only one more day till College Baseball starts. See you back tomorrow for the full season preview.