While we don't up with Florida State at the Norwich regional, there's a good chance that we'll have to play them somewhere along the line. So when the SBN Florida State blog, Tomahawk Nation, asked us to answer some questions for them, I saw it as a good chance to get some knowledge in return. So Tako and I came up with five questions, to give you a primer on Florida State Baseball:
1. What are your general thoughts on FSU's season? Did they meet/exceed/or underperform expectations this season?
The general consensus going into the season was that this team that couldn't compete for a national title but was probably good enough to make it through regionals. 90% of the innings pitched in 2009 were by freshman and sophomores so the expectation was that our pitching would improve. Unfortunately it has continued to regress under much maligned pitching coach Jamie Shouppe. The 2010 offense accounted for 68% of the team's total plate appearances from 2009 but that did not translate to improved numbers as there was only 1 everyday player from 2009 that had an improved season. So 4 months later looking back it would be safe to say that it has been disappointing.
2. How is FSU built? Are the Seminoles built around one aspect of the game, or do they have a balanced attack?
This team lives and dies by how good the offense is because we know that for the most part there will be subpar pitching. Outside of the first series of the season against UVA and the last series of the season against Clemson the offense has been very consistent. Florida State offenses are traditionally the best in the country in thanks to high on base percentages and high power numbers. Despite all that you will still see small ball as Mike Martin insists on killing scoring opportunities despite what advanced statistics tell him. The Seminoles are not a team built on winning 3-2 baseball games as quality starts are a rare occurrence.
3. What's the feeling behind being the only number 1 seed not hosting a regional, with two Connecticut teams involved no less? How have the Seminoles performed on the road this season, and do you expect them to hold form in the tournament?
After being swept by Clemson in the final series of the season and for the first time by anyone since 2006 Florida State's chances of hosting pretty much went out the window. So outside of a great tournament showing they were more than likely going on the road somewhere as a 2 seed. Even though they won the ACC tournament FSU was still sent packing but playing as the 1 seed makes the disappointment of not hosting a little bit easier to accept. Having 2 teams from the Northeast is much better than having a southern team from a power or mid-major conference. Florida State was 10-5 on the road in conference and outside the state of Florida so there shouldn't be any issues acclimating to a new ballpark.
4. Who or what is the key to playoff success for the Seminoles?
Starting pitching will determine how far this team goes. As mentioned earlier the offense has really not gone on any cold streaks for extended periods of time and the reason they won the ACC tournament was due to the starting pitching keeping them in ballgames. If they can keep up their solid performances through regionals the chances of advancing increases exponentially. On the offense side of the ball the guys that have carried this team all season long are the 1-2-3 hitters in the order, Tyler Holt (1.208 OPS) Sherman Johnson (.901) and Mike McGee (.997 OPS). No one pitcher other than closer Mike McGee (0.75 ERA and 8 saves) stands out for any good reason and giving him the ball with the lead late in games makes the ‘Noles feel good about their chances of winning.
5. For those of us still learning college baseball, tell us a bit about the ACC, and both it and FSU's place in the college baseball landscape.
The ACC resembles the Pac 10 very similarly at least for this year. One elite team (ASU/UVA) and then a 2nd tier of teams that are hosting regionals with a legit shot to advance to a CWS followed by a 3rd tier of 2/3 seeds that are competitive but probably won't advance too far. Year in and year out the ACC is one of the best conferences during the regular season and always has good representation in the CWS. But for one reason or another they can't seem to figure out how to win once they get there. It has been more than 50 years since an ACC team won a title and with an ACC record of 8 teams making it this year we hope that one can finally break that streak.
Many thanks to RaysnNoles for answering our questions, and I highly recommend that you check out Tomahawk Nation in advance of todays regional. They are very baseball oriented, and you'll find a ton of stuff that give some context to these playoffs.