This week site expert Matthew Bartlett fields a question about Texas A&M baseball. Follow him on Twitter or submit your question here.
"Is there any way that the Aggie baseball team can make it to Omaha this season? What is the absolute ceiling for this year’s team?"
Omaha. Shouldn’t the answer always be Omaha?
The 2017 Texas A&M Baseball team wasn’t expected to be a national title contender. Preseaon polls pegged them as the runner up in the SEC West. LSU (13 place votes) was the all-but unanimous favorite to win the West. Texas A&M received the only other first place vote.
A rebuilding year? Not so fast
The Aggies have the pitching to make it through a regional, they’ll just need to get a few big hits.
That all went out the window in March. The Aggies lost back-to-back heartbreakers in Houston against TCU and Baylor. The team began conference play 0-5 and were pronounced “dead in the water” by many around the SEC. Then coach Rob Childress accomplished what might be his greatest coaching feat in his tenure in College Station. That 0-5 team is 34-15 (14-10) and two games out of first place overall in the SEC, forget just the West.
Expectations for this team have gone as high as a regional host and as low as no postseason at all. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle. Texas A&M missed an opportunity to take control of the SEC race against Mississippi State, but they still have a fighting chance to win the regular season title and the conference tournament crown. If they are able to accomplish either feat a regional host is well within reason.
If they can’t grab one of the final host spots, they’ve likely done enough to secure a two seed. Assuming the committee has some mercy and avoids sending the Aggies to Forth Worth, the most likely non-hosting destination would be Lubbock. Texas A&M toppled Texas Tech 9-1 earlier this season so that matchup might actually favor the Aggies.
But, none of that answered the question.
What is the ceiling of this team this season? I’d say a College World Series birth would be the highest the 2017 Texas A&M baseball team could achieve. They have too many holes in their lineup to make much noise in Omaha, but getting there is something that could be done – although it would be heavily dependent on the seedings.
Regionals are often won by pitching depth. Teams that fall into the losers bracket can’t overcome the strain placed on the bullpen and whomever is called upon to start the later games. The Aggies have the pitching to make it through a regional, they’ll just need to get a few big hits.
Once they reach the Super Regional the combination of Brigham Hill, Kaylor Chafin, and Mitchell Kilkenny is formidable enough to beat just about any team in the country. That’s one game they should be able to win, depending on where they get sent. That puts them one win away from Omaha. Anything can happen in one baseball game. For that reason, this team has just enough to make it Omaha this season. Keep the faith.