The 2017 Ole Miss baseball team is a bit of enigma heading into this weekend’s season opener against ECU. On one hand, the Rebels have had to replace a significant number of key veteran contributors with youngsters. On the other hand, that group of youngsters is comprised of a crew of sophomore pitchers that got a ton of experience last year and a freshmen class that was ranked by D1Baseball.com as the best in the country.
Predicting how quickly young players will develop is mostly a crap shoot, which explains why Ole Miss’ preseason rankings are all over the place. While Perfect Game has the Rebels as No. 8 in the country, both D1 Baseball and Baseball America left Mike Bianco’s bunch unranked (the USA Today Coaches Poll has the Rebs at No. 24).
Given the inexperience at key positions (true sophomore James McArthur is a candidate for the Friday night ace spot and the opening-day starters at catcher and shortstop will both be true freshmen), I’d expect this team to show plenty of inconsistency in the early going. If the coaches can develop the young talent as the season wears on, however, Ole Miss has the chance to be an extremely dangerous team come tournament time.
Below are the rankings from four of the top polls in the country, which I’ve averaged into a composite ranking. We’ll be generating this composite ranking each week for the rest of the season.
|Rank||Team||Average||Rank||D1 Baseball||Baseball America||Coaches Poll||Perfect Game|
|3||Florida St.||3.25||3||Florida St.||Florida||LSU||Florida St.|
|4||LSU||3.5||4||South Carolina||LSU||South Carolina||Florida|
|5||South Carolina||4.5||5||LSU||South Carolina||Florida St.||South Carolina|
|6||Oregon St.||7.75||6||NC State||ECU||Vanderbilt||Louisville|
|7||Louisville||8.25||7||Vanderbilt||Louisville||Oregon St.||Oregon St.|
|8||Vanderbilt||8.75||8||Oregon St.||Cal St. Fullerton||Louisville||Ole Miss|
|9||ECU||9||9||North Carolina||Oregon St.||Coastal Carolina||Vanderbilt|
|10||Cal St. Fulleron||12.5||10||ECU||Clemson||ECU||ECU|
|11||North Carolina||12.75||11||Coastal Carolina||Vanderbilt||Cal St. Fullerton||Oklahoma St.|
|12||NC State||13.5||12||Louisville||Washington||Clemson||North Carolina|
|13||UL Lafayette||13.75||13||UL Lafayette||UL Lafayette||North Carolina||UL Lafayette|
|14||Clemson||14||14||Texas Tech||NC State||NC State||NC State|
|15||Coastal Carolina||14.75||15||Clemson||Coastal Carolina||Arizona||Cal St. Fullerton|
|16||Stanford||19.5||16||Cal St. Fullerton||Virginia||UL Lafayette||Stanford|
|17||Oklahoma St.||20.25||18||Stanford||Oklahoma St.||Virginia||Washington|
|20||Texas Tech||22||20||Texas A&M||Long Beach St.||Texas A&M||Houston|
|22||Ole Miss||23||22||Maryland||Arizona||Oklahoma St.||Cal Poly|
|24||Miami||24.5||24||UNC Wilmington||Maryland||Ole Miss||Coastal Carolina|