We're taking a look back and a look ahead at college baseball teams from around the country. Next up: the Oklahoma State Cowboys!
Two stats that could tell the story of the 2019 offense for Oklahoma State are: 1st in the country in K% and 4th in the country in HR%. This team was electric at the plate, hitting highlight home run after highlight home run; however, they also suffered from the strikeout bug causing them to strike out at a higher rate than any other team.
A Look Back at 2019
Oklahoma State finished 40-21 (14-9 in the Big 12), which was good enough to host a regional. However, 12 inches of rain forced the series to be hosted at the site of the Big 12 Championship, where just five days prior, the Cowboys won the Big 12 Tournament. The visiting teams- Harvard, Nebraska, and Connecticut- did not make it easy for the Pokes. Harvard held the vaunted Cowboys offense to two runs and Nebraska made it a close game in their second game. UConn made some Cowboy fans sweat by forcing a game seven, but their pitching would prevail and send Oklahoma State to their third Super Regional in six years and fifth overall.
Oklahoma State had the offensive firepower to go to Omaha this year, had they not run into a juggernaut in Texas Tech. Both of these teams had powerful offenses, and the Cowboys pushed the Red Raiders to the brink in Lubbock, but a wild (and very windy) Game Three ended with Tech on top.
The Cowboys' offense in 2019 was led by Juniors Trevor Boone and Andrew Navigato and Seniors Colin Simpson and Christian Funk. They all finished with wOBA values in the top 35 in the P5+AAC, helping their draft stock for the MLB Draft. OSU ended the draft with eight players taken, including righthanders Logan Gragg in the 8th round and Petyon Battenfield in the 9th round.
A Look Ahead at 2020
To open the season, OSU will travel to GCU for a series and Arizona State for a fun midweek matchup between offensive powers. The Cowboys will make the short 3.5 hour drive down to Frisco, Texas for the Frisco College Baseball Classic. This will be their second time in the Frisco Classic; in 2017, the Cowboys beat Arkansas and Nebraska and lost to Arizona. This year, OSU will play UCLA, Illinois, and former conference foe Texas A&M. Later in the season, in the middle of Big 12 play, Oregon State comes to Stillwater after Oklahoma State went to Corvallis, Oregon and swept the Beavers.
Returning for the Cowboys' pitching staff includes some experienced players, even after losing its number one pitcher, Jenson Elliott, an innings-eater in Joe Lienhard, and key bullpen pitcher Peyton Battenfield. The weekend rotation figures to have two spots filled by lefthander Parker Scott and possibly righthander Brett Standlee. As a freshman, Standlee made 12 starts and ended with a 4.46 ERA. There will be some competition for the third spot, however.
Josh Holliday and his staff will have to figure out how to handle life after those four aforementioned power bats, but with Carson McCluster, Alix Garcia, and a top three recruiting class, they should get along just fine. (See the top ten recruiting classes here.)
I believe Oklahoma State has the offensive firepower and great recruits to help fill in any gaps from players lost to the draft or graduation. Obviously, their big four bats left huge shoes to fill, but I think they'll be able to get it done. Some pitching depth will help them tremendously, so if their staff can produce that, there's a chance they could make some noise in the Tournament and maybe Omaha.
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