Bozar's Best Guess about Finish for Mountain West Baseball in 2017
Now this is where things get dangerous. I don't ordinarily try to guess the finish of any baseball season other than the Giants are going to win it every year. I'll stick with the MWC this time. Seldom is anyone right but I feel pretty confident about top half versus bottom half. I've looked at returning vets, which is a big deal, and incoming newbies that may be of some help. Here I go and I'll give reasons.
Most of what I use to base my guess is past year's stats. If a team lost a lot with not much coming back, then it's easy to surmise that it may be a down year. If a lot is coming back and they are good, well then, you do the math. I only figure frosh into the equation when there is a big hole in the lineup or rotation (as I see it, anyway) and there doesn't appear to be anyone that has shown that they may step up. Frosh and juco transfers are hard to figure as the step up to D1 is a big one. Some never make it, no matter that they made HSAA or JCAA. We fans like to see our teams get those guys but many times these kids don't help; at all. I've seen it at SJS and you all know it happens at the program you follow, too. But, would I take Florida's recruiting class most every year? You betcha, Red Ryder. Anyway, too many variables which would make science gag. Read on.
1. Fresno State
2. New Mexico
4. Air Force
5. San Diego State
7. San Jose State
The Bulldogs return three All-MWC players and an All-MWC pitcher who could be an AA by season's end. They also have two other pitchers who are more than decent. The lineup is loaded in on field positions and the pitching is usually pretty strong and this year is no different. It's the pitching, dude.
What do the Lobos always have? Hitting. I used to blame it on location a bit (think Colorado Rockies) but they hit everywhere. They get back Carl Stajduhar who is probably the best in the MWC and one of the best in the west. I wouldn't throw him a strike. Last year they had decent pitching which helped them win more than a little bit. I still think they need a few more arms to be a threat outside the MWC. I'd like to see that translate to some victories at a regional; wherever it may be. It'll be a treat to watch the Fresno State - New Mexico games when they play each other. But, I think with Ricky Tyler Thomas leading off a Friday night game puts Fresno State in the driver's seat. But not by much.
The Wolf Pack has surprised me the past two seasons. I didn't think they could take the loss of their coach and a lot of great players to make any kind of push in 2016. Well, they did and I was duly impressed. They return a number of good players but have a few holes to fill and only one really tested arm in the rotation. I think they will be in the mix again this season but I'd be surprised if they can overtake FSU or New Mexico let alone both. Air Force will be nipping at their heels also.
The Falcons along with the three above teams will make up the top four of the conference which should space itself out over the bottom three. Can Air Force take over the top spot? I don't think so but all the teams will have some serious bruises after playing them. They can hit. They had a great one in Griffin Jax on the mound last year. He could pitch both at home and on the road and no other Falcons pitcher could say that. He's gone and that will hurt their chances of moving higher than where I place them.
San Diego State
Nothing outstanding but nothing horrible either. They have a few good players and one or two ok arms in the rotation. I see them treading water most of the year somewhere in the middle of the pack.
I think they could be in trouble. They DO get back co-freshman of the year in Kyle Isbel and an all-conference player in Payton Squier but that's about it. Pitching is the real sore spot here. If you read my write up on prospective lineup, you'll remember that I had nothing but question marks for the rotation along with Blaze Bohall, who is a question mark by himself. Ok, let me say it, no pitching.
San Jose State
Y'all know I'm a fan but I've got to be fair. Nothing really set with this team. Pitching was the big culprit last year but hitting was minimal also. However, the new coach has brought in a lot of assistants that either have major league experience or D1 level assistant experience. Both should help. There is some talent on this team that has not shown itself yet. To be honest, UNLV and the Spartans will be duking it out for the bottom spot in 2017. A move up a space or two would show growth.
But, wait, there’s more. I just read my latest issue of Collegiate Baseball and they had their guess on how the Mountain West will finish. They had it thusly:
- New Mexico
- Fresno State
- San Diego State
- Air Force
- San Jose State
A little different through the middle but the middle could be any team, actually. They also had Fresno State’s Ricky Tyler Thomas as a third team AA and a high draft pick for 2017. New Mexico’s Carl Stajduhar was again picked as a first team AA. A bit of a pleasant surprise was New Mexico’s Luis Gonzalez making third team AA as a UT player. In other words he is very good as both a pitcher and a position player.