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2010 Seminoles Baseball Preview: Offense

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The 2008 Florida State Seminoles offense was absolutely amazing and going in to 2009 there was doubt that the team could account for the losses of Dennis Guinn, Jack Rye, Tony Delmonico and the #5 overall pick Buster Posey.  Heading into the 2009 season the roster consisted of 2 senior and 4 junior position players and with that in mind let’s see how the team compared to previous years.

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Please keep in mind that the 2008 offense was one of the most prolific offenses in Seminoles history and with that said I think the 2009 team exceeded expectations in thanks to the bats of Stephen Cardullo, Jason Stidham, Mike McGee, Tyler Holt and Stuart Tapley, not bad for 2 juniors and 3 sophomores. 

Let’s take a look at what the 2009 team did and where they ranked with regards to some traditional stats:

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I would call that pretty impressive for such a young bunch who only accounted for 56% of the team's total plate appearances in 2008.  The next chart shows how FSU ranks in some more advanced statistics.

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The one thing you should notice with the above stats is that FSU is very good at getting on base, which is why Martin’s untimely bunting baffles me.  I am all for situational bunting but this team has shown excellent discipline and they have the ability to be patient enough to wait for a pitch to hit or work the count and earn a walk.  Strikeouts will probably remain the same which is the tradeoff you make when you have a young team that hits for power like FSU does and you can take enough walks to offset the strikeouts.  Florida State does some nice things on the base paths and as long as they can stay above the 75% success rate I will have no issues with FSU gambling as much as they do.

With only key losses of Stidham to the draft and Tommy Oravetz to graduation the offense is in prime position to lead the ACC and the nation again.  The 2010 team returns players that accounted for 68% of the team’s total plate appearances last year and with that gained experience we should see improved plate discipline and increased offensive success.

Inside, a look at the 2010 prospective position starters and lineup.  Click "continue reading"...

Catcher: Junior Rafael Lopez should be a lock for the majority of the starts this year as he started 47 games to Parker Brunelle’s 16 in 2009.  In his sophomore season Lopez put up a slash line of .360/.393/.753 which is respectable for a catcher not named Buster.  Expect Mike McGee’s freshman brother Stephen to keep his redshirt.

First Base: Mike Martin stated that 1B is up for the taking and he was true to his word because it looks like right handed Freshman Jayce Boyd has made a fine transition from third to first and has won the starter’s job.   Left handed Mike Meshke could see some starts at the position if Martin feels the need to play the matchups or Boyd is slumping.

Second Base [UPDATED 2-16-10]:  With the loss of Stidham and True Freshman Devon Travis electing to have surgery that will sideline him for several weeks there will be a position battle between Freshman Justin Gonzalez and Sherman Johnson.  There are a couple ways this could play out, Johnson could start at 2nd with Tapley at 3rd or what I would feel would be the best situation is Gonzalez at 2nd, Johnson at 3rd with Tapley at DH.  The first couple of series will allow Martin to experiment and see what is the best lineup before conference play starts.

Third Base:  Junior Stuart Tapley was your starting third baseman in 2009 but expect to change due to the fact that he is below average in the field.  Insert my 2010 "breakthrough" player of the year, Sherman Johnson, who put up great 2009 numbers in limited play and a kid the coaches are very high on.  Over the summer he played for Covington Lumberjacks in the All Valley League where he put up an excellent  .435/.429/.865 slash line while earning an All Start invite and leading his team to the championship game.  Tapley could see an occasional start but I expect most of his at bats to come as a designated hitter.

Shortstop: No brainer here. After starting at several different positions in 2009 senior Stephen Cardullo settled in at shortstop and had a breakout junior season for the Seminoles bringing in 2nd Team All-American honor.  Expect great things again from Cardullo as he has a point to prove after being passed up in the 2009 Amateur draft.  Freshman Justin Gonzalez is your "SSIW" and will hopefully see some playing time in games that get out of reach.

Right Field: According to Mike Martin right field is officially up in the air.  Senior Ohmed Danesh’s offensive output is less than desired and I expect him to lose his starting job.  I was initially against Taiwan Easterling playing baseball but then was informed that kid looks absolutely amazing so he will more than likely be FSU’s opening day right fielder.  Another young guy I really am high on is James Ramsey, he did well in his freshman season with minimal at-bats and continued his stellar play this summer in the Alaskan Baseball League posting a slash line of  .453/.449/.902. Ramsey has too much potential and I would expect to see him starting once or twice a week predominantly when McGee’s spot in the rotation comes up.

Center Field: Tyler Holt is a 1st Team All-American and while batting average is my least favorite stat he hit over .400 which is phenomenal.  Holt will also serve as your leadoff hitter and has impressive base stealing skills (87% in 2009).  JUCO transfer Tye Buckley, .442/.436/.878 and 18-20 in stolen bases last season at Seminole CC is a likely backup candidate.

Left Field: 2nd Team All American and 2010 pre-season All-American Mike McGee will be starting in left field.  McGee absolutely mashed at the plate last season and was I think he was more deserving than Holt for 1st Team All-American status.  On days where he is pitching expect to see James Ramsey or Ohmed Danesh.

Designated Hitter: There should be no reason for Tapley not to post a slash line of .450/.550/1.000; in 2009 he hit more homeruns while managing to improve on his BB/K ratio.  Junior Robby Stahl started both G&G games this fall as DH so he is another candidate should Tapley have a day off or make a start at third.  If Ramsey doesn’t play the outfield he would also be an ideal option here.

Let’s recap the projected depth chart (Projected starters in bold and JUCO transfers are italicized):

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There are other Freshman and transfers that are not listed above because I don't feel they will make any significant contribution this season.

As you can see there are 4 new faces in starting positions with 3 of them having zero collegiate plate appearances.  While there is moderate concern it helps that the remaining 5 starters had roughly 50% of the team’s total plate appearances and led the team with their bats.

The Seminoles have a nice mix of hitters and hopefully Martin can put together a lineup that can cause matchup advantages.  Here is how I would like our lineup to look knowing full well it will be different come opening day.

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The Florida State Seminoles offense is in prime position to again be the best offence in the ACC as well as tops in the Nation. FSU opens February 19th with a 3 game series against Georgia State and Hofstra with a single game against UNF sandwiched in.  This should give Martin the opportunity to try guys out at different positions and have a good idea of what is strongest lineup will be before opening ACC play.

Tomorrow we will take a look at the Pitching and Defense as well as predictions for 2010.