After 18 games I believe we have enough information now that we can start looking at individual player statistics. In addition to the traditional statistics I will also be tracking some numbers in these updates which are commonly consulted by scouts while evaluating players. One new statistic I have added this year is walks vs. strikeouts. Any player who can keep his number of walks at roughly the same level as his number of strikeouts has an exceptional eye and/or bat control.
I'll leave some comments in the "read more" section underneath the chart for those who care to read on. I will attempt to post updates like this frequently throughout the remainder of the season. I will also post a updates on the pitching. Hopefully the first will be up on Monday. Enjoy!
Only players with 1+AB/game included.
In general, the Hawks are performing slightly better at the plate so far in 2008 than they did last year. KU is producing an average of 6.9 runs per game vs. NCAA opponents. They have only played three conference games so far. In these games they averaged 4.7 runs per contest. Last year KU hit .280/.378/.434/.812 as a team and averaged 6.1 runs per game vs. NCAA D-I opponents. In conference play they averaged 5.7 runs per game. So, to this point, the 2008 Hawks seem to have a bit more offense than the 2007 version.
Two surprising reasons for this offensive improvement have been Nick Faunce and Joe Southers. Coming into 2008 Faunce was an unknown factor at the plate. He impressed Price in the Fall enough to win the starting CF slot outright and has nicely replaced Kyle Murphy as the Jayhawks lead-off hitter. While Faunce has not yet shown himself to be the threat on the basepads Kansas had hoped him to be, his .437 OBP makes him a very effective offensive catalyst. Southers was expected to be a bench role player coming into the season. Instead he has welded the most impressive bat on the team and earned nearly full-time status as of late.
Ryne Price's performance cannot really be called a surprise, afterall the guy has done nothing but hit for power and draw walks since arriving at KU, but notice should be paid to his impressive production. He leads the club with 5 homeruns and 26 RBIs. Morrison and Allman both got off to slow starts but are now stroking. Allman, an amazing pure hitter, has his OBP up to .500 and his OPS over a grand. Allman also has excelled in less obvious areas. He has drawn more than twice as many walks as strikeouts so far this year and leads the team in stolen bases with four. He was thrown out stealing in the Tabor game. I believe this was the first time he had ever been caught stealing in over three years of college play. Morrison is hitting for great average and also has a great OBP. Buck Afenir has hit very well but, due to an injury, he has accumulated less playing time. I suspect Joe Southers will be taking over as the back-up catcher, leaving Ryne Price as a full-time right fielder.
Not all the news is good. Robby Price, Tony Thompson, Preston Land, Casey Larson and Jimmy Waters are all struggling at the plate. Robby has been exceptional in some regards (walks to strikeouts and sacrifices) but he still has not shown the ability to hit for a high average or for power. His overall skill set will make him a fixture in the line-up, but getting an OPS of .750+ out of him would make the lineup significantly more dangerous. Land has had some great individual games, but overall he still seems only half way out of the season long slump he suffered through in 2007. He is striking out 23% of his plate appearances this season. That is an improvement over last year, but still high. I won't write much about Tony Thompson. As a true freshman playing every day in the most demanding defensive position in college baseball he will get a long grace period before his batting numbers become an issue as long as he keeps his OPS over the five hundred mark. I already see him improving at the plate and have no reason to not expect him to blossom into a key offensive player in the not too distant future.
Casey Larson got off to a great start but is now fighting through a miserable slump. After seeing a good amount of playing time early Jimmy Waters seems to be out of the rotation right now. Is he hurt? Or is he just working on adjustments. Waters is also a true freshman with enormous offensive potential so his early numbers, while low, are no real cause for concern.