Baseball notes for The Citadel as the 2022 season begins

This is just a post in which I throw out a bunch of numbers, etc. Please excuse the scattershot nature of the information…

The Citadel is scheduled to play 34 non-conference games in 2022 — 26 at home, and 8 on the road. Three of the road games are against Creighton, while the other five are much shorter trips (Charleston Southern twice, College of Charleston, Winthrop, and North Florida).

Below is a list of The Citadel’s 2002 non-conference opponents, with last season’s record, RPI, and games versus the Bulldogs this year in parenthesis. For example, Fairleigh Dickinson was 8-29 last season and finished with an RPI of 284 (there are 293 teams in D-1); The Citadel is slated to face FDU at Riley Park in the first three games of the 2022 campaign.

  • Fairleigh Dickinson: 9-28, 284 (3)
  • Villanova: 21-14, 98 (3)
  • Northern Kentucky: 17-31, 257 (3)
  • Charleston Southern: 18-26, 247 (4)
  • USC-Upstate: 37-16, 51 (1)
  • Siena: 15-24, 259 (3)
  • St. Peter’s: 4-24, 279 (3)
  • George Mason: 14-29, 267 (3)
  • North Florida: 22-23, 117 (2)
  • Creighton: 24-15, 115 (3)
  • College of Charleston: 27-25, 158 (2)
  • Winthrop: 19-27, 238 (2)
  • South Carolina: 34-23, 20 (1)
  • Texas: 50-17, 4 (1)

The Citadel finished 12-39 last season, with an RPI of 266.

SoCon preseason polls:

Preseason Coaches Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Wofford (6) 48
2. Mercer (1) 40
3. Western Carolina (1) 39
4. ETSU 28
5. UNCG 25
6. Samford 19
7. VMI 16
8. The Citadel 9

Preseason Media Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) Points
1. Wofford (8) 127
2. Mercer (3) 113
3. Samford (4) 100
4. Western Carolina (2) 87
5. ETSU 74
6. UNCG 54
7. VMI 37
8. The Citadel 20

This season, SoCon teams are scheduled to play 21 conference matchups, 3 against each team (last season’s COVID-affected slate featured divisional play). The Citadel has 3 home series in league action, and 4 series on the road.

I don’t have updated park factors for the 2021 season, though that year might be of somewhat limited forecasting utility anyway, given the COVID-related factors surrounding it. The 2019 numbers suggest that the SoCon has four teams which play home games in average to very slightly above average parks for offense (The Citadel, Samford, Wofford, and ETSU), one that plays in an above average park for offense (UNC Greensboro), and three that compete in parks well above average for offense (Mercer, VMI, and Western Carolina).

In the SoCon, the name of the game is putting runs on the board. In 2021, league teams averaged 6.57 runs per game (3rd-most among the 31 Division I conferences). That came as a result of compiling a collective .277 batting average (5th-best), maintaining an on base percentage of .375 (4th-highest), slugging .428 as a group (9th-highest), totaling an OPS of .803 (8th-best), and averaging 0.971 homers per game (10th-most).

The Citadel will avoid making the journey to Cullowhee and Western Carolina’s Hennon Stadium, which was in the top 15 of park factors (in terms of D1 offense) as of 2019, but the Bulldogs do travel to Mercer and VMI.

Pitching statistics of note for SoCon teams, 2021 (all games, not just conference action):

Team G K/9 BB/9 WHIP 2B-A 3B-A HR-A
Wofford 57 8.86 2.95 1.34 134 9 58
ETSU 49 9.13 3.57 1.40 86 12 34
Mercer 57 8.95 3.80 1.51 65 8 72
Samford 59 9.34 4.03 1.53 106 11 74
UNCG 52 7.80 4.15 1.49 84 9 39
WCU 49 8.57 4.28 1.58 99 14 44
The Citadel 51 7.86 5.42 1.76 106 16 49
VMI 47 6.66 5.50 1.87 106 4 59

Team BAA OBP ag SLG ag OPS ag WP HB Bk GB/FB
Wofford 0.259 0.334 0.426 0.760 55 64 0 0.768
ETSU 0.259 0.347 0.389 0.736 58 60 4 1.277
Mercer 0.279 0.363 0.434 0.797 44 55 5 0.910
Samford 0.275 0.363 0.449 0.812 68 60 5 0.941
UNCG 0.266 0.358 0.392 0.750 63 55 6 0.805
WCU 0.279 0.376 0.434 0.810 76 67 9 1.062
The Citadel 0.289 0.395 0.451 0.846 50 64 8 0.833
VMI 0.309 0.415 0.492 0.907 67 68 1 0.786


Offensive statistics of note for SoCon teams, 2021 (all games, not just conference action):

Team G BA OBP R R/Gm AB H 2B 3B TB TB/Gm HR HR/Gm
Mercer 57 0.287 0.390 428 7.51 1,927 553 119   7 962 16.88 92 1.61
WCU 49 0.306 0.413 408 8.33 1,725 528 103 10 816 16.65 55 1.12
Samford 59 0.284 0.383 431 7.31 2,011 571  97 11 900 15.25 70 1.19
Wofford 57 0.292 0.402 404 7.09 1,883 549 117 11 772 13.54 28 0.49
UNCG 52 0.263 0.366 346 6.65 1,739 458  84 14 705 13.56 45 0.87
ETSU 49 0.246 0.341 264 5.39 1,615 397 102   2 668 13.63 55 1.12
VMI 47 0.266 0.367 256 5.45 1,529 406  51 13 573 12.19 30 0.64
The Citadel 51 0.265 0.327 229 4.49 1,715 455  77   9 652 12.78 34 0.67

Team SLG OPS RBI BB BB/Gm HBP K/Gm SF SH
Mercer 0.499 0.889 386 256 4.49 80 8.02 19 42
WCU 0.473 0.886 366 241 4.92 87 8.41 19 13
Samford 0.448 0.831 393 266 4.51 71 8.32 21 25
Wofford 0.410 0.812 347 301 5.28 68 7.09 31 54
UNCG 0.405 0.771 315 236 4.54 63 8.23 31 16
ETSU 0.414 0.755 249 202 4.12 38 8.80 14 33
VMI 0.375 0.742 230 197 4.19 57 9.00 13 22
The Citadel 0.380 0.707 199 129 2.53 36 7.80 15 29

Team SB SB/Gm CS SB% Picked off CS-Pk /Gm IBB Opp DP
Mercer 50 0.88 15 71.4%    5 0.351 15 29
WCU 58 1.18 15 75.3%    4 0.388 5 39
Samford 48 0.81 16 65.8%    9 0.424 7 45
Wofford 132 2.32 34 73.7%   13 0.825 7 40
UNCG 65 1.25 23 68.4%    7 0.577 5 19
ETSU 39 0.80 12 66.1%    8 0.408 11 23
VMI 60 1.28 23 65.2%    9 0.681 7 38
The Citadel 45 0.88 15 64.3%   10 0.490 5 35

Defensive statistics of note for SoCon teams, 2021 (all games, not just conference action):

Team G PO A TC E Fld rate PB SBA CSB SBa% Infield DP Def Eff
ETSU 49 1,277 483 1,816 56 0.969  7 36 11 69.4% 34 67.74%
Mercer 57 1,476 511 2,028 41 0.980  8 74 24 67.6% 30 66.98%
Samford 59 1,521 505 2,103 77 0.963 12 67 26 61.2% 41 67.13%
The Citadel 51 1,316 437 1,833 80 0.956 15 68 16 76.5% 28 66.98%
UNCG 52 1,353 462 1,875 60 0.968 10 64 21 67.2% 30 68.77%
VMI 47 1,168 410 1,643 65 0.960 19 58 14 75.9% 23 66.64%
WCU 49 1,267 459 1,779 53 0.970 14 52 12 76.9% 47 66.45%
Wofford 57 1,499 478 2,044 67 0.967  8 41 19 53.7% 18 69.24%

If you’re reading this, I probably don’t need to tell you that The Citadel didn’t fare well statistically last season in just about any category, but those tables spell it out in stark terms. It was a tough year.

There are a lot of ways to play winning baseball. Historically, though, The Citadel’s success on the diamond has usually included strong starting pitching with an emphasis on strikeouts (the Bulldogs’ best pitching staffs have had very high K/9 rates), good but not necessarily great defense, and a tough, aggressive, OBP-focused lineup featuring at least three power hitters (often with two of them also good at getting on base).

Unfortunately, last year didn’t come close to producing anything resembling that time-tested formula.

At first glance, a 7.86 K/9 rate doesn’t look that bad. After all, it is almost a strikeout per inning. However, that was only 6th-best among SoCon teams, and it was combined with a terrible BB/9 rate (5.42, second-worst in the league). The opponents’ slugging rate was also too high, particularly when considering The Citadel’s home park.

The Bulldogs’ offense mirrored the pitching. The Citadel’s OBP was the worst in the league and must substantially improve in 2022. The batting average wasn’t really the problem; no, the real issue was the Bulldogs’ inability to draw bases on balls.

The Citadel averaged only 2.53 walks per game in 2021; every other league squad averaged at least 4 free passes per contest. That is an enormous difference, and goes a long way to explaining why the Bulldogs averaged just 4.49 runs per game, almost a full run lower than ETSU, which was next-to-last in the conference.

Defensively, The Citadel might have been a little better than its fielding rate suggested, though still slightly below average in the SoCon. However, the Bulldogs allowed too many stolen bases, with opponents swiping over a bag per game (1.33), and with a 76.5% success rate. There was also an excessive number of passed balls, and The Citadel’s infield DP numbers arguably aren’t as high as they should be, given the number of opposing baserunners over the course of the season.

All that said, there are positives as the 2022 season begins. For one thing, the team will look good. I also think that as society in general (and college sports in particular) moves closer to a (hopefully) mostly COVID-free existence, The Citadel’s varsity sports teams will be major beneficiaries.

It is hard enough to balance academics, athletics, and military training. The restrictions brought on by COVID-19 have surely made that lifestyle exponentially more difficult. However, it hasn’t been completely impossible; just look at what the volleyball team did.

(Still amazed by that, to be honest.)

I’m more than ready for this season to start. I’m also looking forward to making occasional appearances at Riley Park, something I haven’t been able to do in quite some time.

Play ball!

One Response

  1. I don’t understand why our baseball program has been so bad these last 10 years or so. I thought Skoal would have brought new life into the program. Any thoughts on why this is happening?

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