The Bears look to be in the field for the CWS. With star power in reigning Golden Spikes winner Andrew Vaughn and Buster Posey award candidate Korey Lee, how far do you think the Bears will go? What has to improve for a run to Omaha?
Nick Kranz: I suppose the easy answer would be ‘pitching when Jared Horn and Arman Sabouri aren’t on the mound.’ Rogelio Reyes has been one of the few reliable arms out of the bullpen and Cal has lost more than a few early leads as a result of bullpen struggles. But I’ll also throw in a shout for simple better luck. Cal is 3rd, 4th, and 3rd respectively in the Pac-12 in batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage . . . but only 5th in the Pac-12 in runs. Simply speaking, Cal hasn’t been translating their base runners into guys crossing home plate. Old school types might argue that Cal needs better situational hitting, but my money(ball) is on Cal scoring runs at a rate that’s commensurate with their peripheral stats. And one good formula for a long playoff run in the goofy, short-series format of college baseball, is suddenly driving in everybody that gets on base.
Nik Jam: The offense is firing on all cylinders, even against top pitching, and the starting lineup is starting to really figure things out. The bullpen, which is mostly freshmen and sophomores, are not real solid at keeping leads late in games, so the starters will need to go deep in the Regional to give the offense a chance to pull off an upset and make the Supers.
thedozen: Man, this offense is fun. I just watched them score 18 at Washington less than two weeks after they hung another 18 on highly ranked Stanford. Pitching depth is the question mark, but the Bears boast power up and down the lineup. A nice postseason run would not surprise me during Vaughn’s final games before the MLB draft.
Ruey Yen: Cal Baseball is good enough to make it to Omaha, but how far they will really go will depend on their regional (and consequently super-regional) placement, which is kind of out of the Bears’ control. Chances are that the Bears would need to travel east for the regional (although that *may* increase the ease of me possibly seeing them in regional action), but I am not particularly concerned about the team playing on the road that much.
Like Nick said, lack of elite pitching depth may be an issue for the Bears - although I do like their chance to outslug opponents on any given game. I don’t know how Mike Neu will manage the postseason games, especially with the pitching if the Bears are facing elimination in situations where they would need to win multiple games. Baseball is build for the manager (I guess the head coach in college terminology) to be second guessed, Neu’s openness to new age baseball ideas is an interesting subplot to this postseason run, outside the obvious story of Andrew Vaughn on the national stage.
Rob Hwang: I concur with everyone above. The offense is stellar, if not one of the scarier ones any team will face. The question is will that carry into the postseason and on the road? Finishing on the road and dropping double digit runs in two consecutive series’ should surely be a good measure. I didn’t even realize this would be Mike Neu’s first run into the CWS with the Bears since he was a coach on that cinderella run some years back. It will be interesting what he does on the national stage with his rotation and pitching inexperience. This team will ultimately go as far as this offense takes them. Honestly I’m just happy Andrew Vaughn gets some run on the national stage to show off as the reigning Golden Spikes winner and candidate to repeat, before leaving as a 1st round MLB Draft pick.