Anyone that followed Oregon Ducks baseball in the 2022 season followed something of the roller coaster emotions that went with it - feelings of the Ducks scoring impressive runs and late-inning comebacks, and frustration at slumps and seemingly inept pitching.
Emotions, however, can’t be quantified. Instead, is there something in the 2022 season stats that can shed light on Oregon’s hits and misses (pun intended)? If so, what is the basis of comparison?
Today we will examine those questions using the best teams of the 2022 baseball season for comparison. The elite teams chosen are the eight teams that appeared in the College World Series: Texas A&M, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Texas, Stanford, Arkansas, Auburn, and Ole Miss.
Complete 2022 season statistics are used for each team. All but one of the CWS teams (Notre Dame) played more games in the season than the Ducks played. Where applicable, I divided statistic categories into a per-game number, multiplied by the number of games that Oregon played (61) and then calculated the average for the eight elite teams. This helped to reduce margin of error in comparisons; if a team has played in 67 games then of course they will have more at-bats, total bases, etc. This method has us closer to comparing apples to apples.
Our statistical comparisons are averages of singular team stats separated into four sets: Offensive statistics where the Ducks reasonably equaled or exceeded the elite teams, offensive statistics where the elite teams exceeded the Ducks, defensive statistics where the Ducks reasonably equaled or exceeded the elite teams, and defensive statistics where the elite teams exceeded Oregon. The sets are as follows:
Offensive Stats - Oregon Equals or Exceeds Elite
|AVG||.310||.292||.018||Team Batting Average|
|RBI||415||416||-1||Runs Batted In|
|GDP||31||32||-1||Ground Into Double Play|
|SH||21||20||1||Sacrifice Hits (Bunts)|
|SB-ATT||66-84||68-88||1.30%||Stolen Bases - SB Attempted|
- Batting Average is, for all intents and purposes, equal. Out of the elite teams, only Texas had a better batting average - which tells us how close the top teams are to Oregon’s batting average.
- Hits - the Ducks had more hits on the season than all but two of the elite teams.
- Slugging % - this is statistically an equal.
- Strikeouts - a somewhat astonishing statistic. Oregon far exceeds all of the elite teams.
- AB, R, 2B, 3B, RBI, TB, GDP, OB%, SH, SB-ATT - all essentially equal or close enough statistically to be equal.
Offensive Stats - Elite Exceeds Oregon
- Home Run - all but two of the elites scored more home runs.
- Walks - The elites walked more often. Impossible to determine if that translated into runs.
- Sacrifice Flies - All eight elites scored more SFs than the Ducks.
Defensive Statistics include selected fielding and pitching stats.
Defensive Stats - Oregon Equals or Exceeds
|SBA||37||36||1||Stolen Base Attempted|
|CSB||16||17||-1||Caught Stealing Base|
- Errors, Passed Ball, Wild Pitch - Oregon committed fewer defensive errors and wild pitches than seven of the elite teams.
- The rest of the stats are essentially equal.
Defensive Stats - Elite Exceeds Oregon
|ERA||4.41||4.74||-.43||Earned Run Avg.|
|HBP||55||69||-14||Hit By Pitch|
|SFA||17||22||-5||Sac Flies Allowed|
|SHA||19||22||-3||Sac Hits Allowed|
- Double Plays - The only fielding category where Oregon doesn’t quite match up with the elite teams.
- ERA, Shutouts, Saves, Walks, B-AVG, HBP, Balk - All but one elite team recorded better in each of these pitching categories.
- Hits, Runs, Earned Runs - Oregon was quite deficient in all these categories. The margin of difference is potentially the difference in winning or losing close games.
- Strike Outs - All of the CWS teams threw significantly more strikeouts on the year.
- Sacrifice Flies and Bunts Allowed - six of eight elites were better than the Ducks in these categories.
What can we glean from these team statistics?
First of all, Fielding is more even with the elite teams than the other categories. The CWS teams only excelled over the Ducks in one category, and I would not characterize double plays as being terribly significant. Oregon put an excellent defense on the field this season and would match up with all of the CWS teams. The 2022 team boasted an excellent defense - elite, if you will - and was arguably the strongest component of the team.
In the Offense categories, the Oregon Ducks equaled or exceeded the elite teams in all but a few of offensive categories. It’s interesting to note that as successful as Oregon was in hitting balls over the fence and setting home run records, the elite teams hit 20% more home runs on average. The elite teams also walked more, which are potentially free runs.
In the Defense (Pitching) categories, Oregon equaled or exceeded the elites in just four categories. A surprise here was that the Ducks had fewer wild pitches than most of the elite teams; that was a statistic that I was not expecting. It should come as a surprise to no one that the elite teams out-performed Oregon in the majority of the pitching categories. The ERA was not up to elite par. The elites’ greater shut outs and saves numbers mean that they were winning more games. The strike outs statistic is particularly striking - the Ducks simply were not able to put away batters at the plate like an “elite” team would. Opposing batters had an easier time against Oregon pitchers. This is largely reflected in opposing batters going up against elite pitching and coming away with a worse batting percentage than batters against the Ducks faced. The pitching stats clearly show what 2022 baseball fans probably felt - that Oregon’s pitching was under-performing. It was certainly not at elite level.
What does all this tell us in the big picture? Oregon’s offense on paper looks good, but does have some troubling signs that make it somewhat sub-elite. For example, the Ducks had 57 more hits than the elite average, but the elite teams are scoring the same number of runs on fewer hits. The CWS teams also averaged more home runs. That said, more information would be needed to conclude whether that’s significant enough for the Ducks to offensively not be able to hold their own against elite teams. Factors such as scoring with runners in scoring position (RISP) or runners left on base (LOB) would have to be examined as well. The method for generating RISP and LOB would involve compiling RISP and LOB for each individual game of each team and is therefore unwieldy. Without further data, it is not possible to conclusively state that the Duck match up to the elite teams offensively.
The Ducks’ defensive statistics as related to pitching are less muddled. The difference in ERA over the course of a season is significant. Deficiencies in categories such as shutouts, saves, sacrifice flies and sacrifice hits directly point to losing games that the elite teams are winning. The elite teams surpass Oregon in ERA, hits, runs, and earned runs. The fact that all of the CWS teams posted significantly more strikeouts than Oregon is huge; when taking into account opponents’ pitching translating to a lesser batting vs. the Ducks, fewer walks, fewer HBP - this means that Oregon allowed more runners on base than their elite counterparts.
In summary, this statistical comparison shows that it is not possible to conclude with certainty whether Oregon’s offense is on par with the CWS teams, but they are in the ballpark. It is reasonable to conclude, though, based on these comparative statistics, that the Ducks do not match up well when it comes to pitching, and that’s the most likely factor in Oregon not being able to advance in post-season play.