Last year, the Rebels were led by Cody Overbeck as he mashed his way to a .356 average leading the team in home runs and RBIs. Solid contributors like Fuller Smith and Michael Guerrero(obviously incredibly solid in SEC tournament games) made up for a line-up that was fairly mediocre with the exception of Logan Power and Jordan Henry.
Power and Henry return but three of the top five batting average leaders have departed for greener pastures. Power has been a rock of consistency starting in 126 games over the last two seasons while racking up 20 roundtrippers and 102 RBIs.
Henry came out of the gates like a freight train his freshman year, but cooled off considerably during his second year batting only .292 after a .376 freshman season. As very old men in Mississippi would say, he's as "fast as a hiccup" and will continue to do Baltimore chops to leg out singles this year.
Matt Smith had surgery in the offseason after he crushed 14 home runs and struck out 80 times in only 226 plate appearances. Unfortunately, the surgery wasn't on his eyesight, so he could very well have a high strike out rate. Smith's newly constructed UCL should hopefully have him back into form this season. I want to see him in action before I rush to any judgments.
Evan Button returns after a season ending injury limited him to only 13 games last year. Button along with Zach Miller should be more solid up the middle than Tim Ferguson was as he clumsily led the team in errors in 2008. Button and Ferguson are about even when it comes to hitting, so if Button can overcome his injury, he'll be the starter at short. Miller was nothing to write home about last year but could be back to his Freshman All-American form after a tough second year.
Brett Basham is back as one of the best defensive catchers in the SEC and possibly the nation. He's not a fantastic hitter and really struggled late in the 2008 season most likely because he was catching 18 innings a day. With the depth by newcomer Taylor Hightower, Basham should have a chance to rest his legs during the week for the weekend series.
Twins Mike and Matt Snyder from Virginia have been touted as players that will contribute immediately. The Snyders or Logan Williams could be handling the hot corner based on who gets the hot bat during the season.
Jeremy Travis showed flashes last year that he can flat out hit the ball. His defensive skills don't compare to Power and Henry, but he should suffice in left unless Michael Hubbard has improved his power to accompany his speed.
Our starting defensive line-up, not batting order:
C: Brett Basham, R
1B: Matt Smith, R
2B: Zach Miller, R
SS: Evan Button, L
3B: Logan Williams, R
CF: Logan Power, R
RF: Jordan Henry, R
LF: Jeremy Travis, R
DH: Matt Snyder, L