Preseason speculation is one of the best and worst things about sports. It’s fun to guess who is going to be the final team left on the field, dogpiling and Instagraming the postgame celebration to fans and friends, but when it comes down to it the rankings don’t mean a thing. Last season West Chester started the season positioned way down at number 30 in the College Baseball Lineup rankings and didn’t even merit a mention with the other preseason projections. Nonetheless, the Golden Rams won their way to the title on the diamond, just as it should be and it didn’t matter where they were on some stat nerd’s scoresheet.
Nevertheless, preseason rankings is just too damn fun to ignore. Reading rosters and seeing what players could lead their club to Cary or Omaha is great entertainment and makes for great debate. Besides, what else are you going to do in winter? Watch basketball? In a few shorts months time, sooner than we’d like it, the season will be over and we can look back and see how we truly do (or most likely don’t) know this game.
Thus without further ado, let’s reveal the 2013 DII Baseball Top 30. A new team should be listed here, as well as on Twitter every five minutes. The countdown will be from 30 to number one.
When compiling the DII Preseason Top 30 a plethora of teams were analyzed and scrutinized from the top of the batting order all the way to the poor soul who gets stuck doing mop up duty when the team is down by nine runs late. There are several great teams that just missed the cut and unquestionably there clubs who will compete regionally and nationally who aren’t on this list. Thus, before we get going here are a few clubs that just missed the cut. This isn’t to mean that they are necessarily the next teams in line, they’re just a few schools who could be poised for big years in 2013 if a few things go their way.
LYNN FIGHTING KNIGHTS (35-15)
Lynn is a complete enigma for 2013. Gone are three of four top hitters including Anthony Boza who hit .388 with 14 homeruns. The Knights have 18 new players, 16 of which are transfers. With so many new faces LU could find themselves in postseason contention or rebuilding just as easy.
WESTERN OREGON WOLVES (40-11)
WOU will once again be strong in the GNAC, but with the losses of Grady Wood who was a Tino Martinez Award Finalist and Bo Folkinga, one of the best bats in the northwest, the Wolves will need some other players to step up big if they are to have another 40 win campaign. Blake Miller is one of the best DII shortstops in the nation.
STILLMAN TIGERS (32-18)
The Tigers were one of the best stories in college baseball last season as they were a win away from advancing to Cary and the DII CWS. They’ll likely manhandle the SIAC once again after running a perfect 21-0 conference record last season, but replicating their South Regional success is a long short – but I’ll be hoping for it.
FLORIDA SOUTHERN MOCS (26-18)
FSC returns six everyday starters and eight of its top ten pitchers from 2012, but the omissions from last year’s roster are too much to make them a top ranked team going into the season. Gone are leading batsmen, including Mike Snyder who paced club offensively and a dominant arm needs to come forward.
CAL POLY POMONA (31-18)
Even with the loss of Geoff Broussard the Broncos have a top shelf pitching staff that will keep the competitive in the CCAA. Coach Randy Betten has a pair of Tino Martinez Award candidate outfielders in Donald Walter and Chris Carlson which could fuel CPP to a CWS appearance.
NEW MEXICO HIGHLANDS (41-16)
The Cowboys have a top hitting ballclub, led by Kyle Davis who hit .374 with a .619 slugging percentage and Josh McMahon who finished the year with a .411 batting average, but the team is an arm or two short of being listed among the nation’s elite. Closer Oscar Almeida, who had 14 saves last season, can close a game if the starting staff can get him the lead.
DIXIE STATE (35-20)
The Red Storm were unquestionably one of the last teams to miss the cut. The Red Storm returns several top batters including Jodan Hanley who hit .384 last season and Cedric Johnson who led the team in homeruns. The starting staff is experienced with Mike Dedrick and Sam Friend who each started 13 games and had 3.55 and 3.64 ERA respectively.
REGIS RANGERS (33-23)
The Rangers are the unofficial dark horse to contend in 2013. Probably not ready to be a player at the national level, but regionally ready and a few wins could propel the team to Cary. Coaches are big on Steven Brault to elevate his game. He was the 2012 RMAC Preseason Player of the Year after batting .369 as a freshman but failed to catch fire last season.