The Spartans season ended earlier than they would have liked. It was also earlier than what most people (myself included) predicted during the preseason.
A lot of analysts had them finishing somewhere around 4-6 in the conference. Unfortunately MSU ended ninth in the B1G and did not get an invite to the conference tournament.
With the 29-23 record finish for Michigan State just barely in the rear view mirror we are going to take you through how their season looked from an offensive standpoint.
Way back during the first week of the season Michigan State looked unstoppable offensively. Granted they were playing teams like Abilene Christian and UNC-Greensboro but it still felt good to see them put it all together on the field.
During their first series they outscored their opponents 51-21. Along with 63 hits in just four games, they had scored in the double digits twice that weekend. Bringing them to a 4-0 record with six players hitting .375 or higher.
At the time Michigan State was averaging .401 from the plate as a group. The Spartans were also one of the best teams in the country when it came to team batting average and runs scored per game for what seemed like quite awhile.
MSU became 9-1 after they swept their way through the First Pitch Invitational. Looking back this may have been the high point of the year for them. They had only lost one game, their RPI was #2 in the nation and their offense was looking unbeatable.
Right after that they began playing top ranked teams Clemson and South Carolina. In retrospect the Spartans inability to win either of these series turned into some serious foreshadowing of the 2017 season.
This is where the bad begins. I know it seems quick but to me this is where it started to unravel for the Spartans and their offense. Ten games in may seem a tad bit like jumping the gun but as I’ve looked over each and every series this is where it all began.
The offense was still on a hot streak. It was a regular thing for Michigan State to be getting hits in the double digits night in and night out. It was no different during the Clemson game, they outhit the Tigers but lost because the Spartans left nine men on base. Unable to capitalize on any opportunities that were afforded to them.
Afterwards Michigan State still had five or more players hitting better than .345 and remained a top flight offense in college baseball (notice their numbers dropped slightly, but remained impressive).
Next, the Spartans played two games against then ranked No. 10 South Carolina. A series that they went winless in. Michigan State managed to score 4 total runs in two games. But the same problems presented themselves again. MSU was more than capable of beating this team, outhitting them 9-3 but leaving eight runners on base.
The weekend left them returning home having been beat down 17-6 by Clemson and South Carolina. Resulting in a three game losing streak (the first of many).
The Spartans were coming back 9-4 with their offense slowly getting worse. Now only four guys averaged better than .339 and they faltered in the rankings with a .312 team BA.
This section represents the rest of the season for the Spartans offense. Shortly after their next tournament they were ready to start conference play.
Prior to their second B1G series against Minnesota the Spartans had 11 games where they scored nine or more runs and won. After that they had five.
The offense completely plummeted and struggled to score runs in bunches. I’m not saying they needed double digit runs if they were going to win but that is what MSU did early on. When their offense was explosive with runs and hits coming from every which way they had a record of 15-5.
After that point in the season they finished 14-18. One series into the B1G and this team completely fell apart. From there on out they didn’t know the meaning of the word consistency because there was none. Once the non-conference schedule was over the season was a complete roller coaster.
The Spartans went from leading the conference in a number of offensive categories and being recognized nation wide as a threat to score at will to finishing 2017 outside of the top 25 for seven statistical areas where they once led.
Point being no matter how good Alex Troop and the rest of the pitching staff ever was they desperately needed the offense to play how they did when MSU was 15-5 once upon a time. A height they failed to reach time and time again during the race for the B1G title.
Stick around for my season recap in terms of the pitching/defense!
As always thanks for reading guys!