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Michigan State Baseball: 2018 Season Preview

Baseball’s Back!

College baseball season is back and the Spartans are ready to roll. Michigan State will kick off against the Fresno State Bulldogs in a four game series over the weekend (yes this preview is a bit late and I’m terribly sorry for that).

The Spartans will face the Bulldogs for just the third time in school history. The last time they met Michigan State swept the series. Defeating Fresno State 10-4, 9-5, and 8-2.

Before we get too far into this year let’s go back and recap 2017 just a bit.

The Basics

The Numbers

  • Record: 29-23 (10-14 conference, 10-8 Home)
  • Best Win: vs Michigan (RPI: 40), W 6-1
  • Worst Loss: vs Western Michigan (RPI: 223), L 2-3

Last Five Games of Year

  • 5/20 — Michigan, L 1-2
  • 5/19 — Michigan, L 6-11
  • 5/18 — Michigan, W 6-1
  • 5/16 — Central Michigan, W 7-0
  • 5/14 — Nebraska, L 7-8

Michigan State started the 2017 season off very strong winning nine out of their ten first games. The only mishap coming in a 1-4 loss against UNCG (oddly enough their mascot is also a Spartan).

After that the Spartans went through a bit of a rough patch where they lost 12 of their next 20 games. Essentially taking them out of the Top 25, a place they would be for majority of the year.

At the very least Michigan State was always competitive. While their record wasn’t the greatest (especially in the Big Ten) they were never an easy win. In 2017 they were involved in 17 one-run games, and three two-run games. Unfortunately they were 8-12 in those contests.

Returning Spartans

Michigan State has six position players and five starting pitchers returning for the 2018 season. In my opinion this is huge news, it should help the Spartans improve in many ways and hopefully finish with a better record than they did in the previous year.

Here’s how the returning starters looked last year.

  • Zach McGuire (INF): .279 (51-183), 15 2B, 7 HR, 32 RBI
  • Chad Roskelly (C/1B): .324 (35-108), 6 2B, 3 HR, 24 RBI
  • Bryce Kelley (OF): .353 (55-156), 7 2B, 3 3B, 21 RBI
  • Danny Gleaves (OF): .291 (23-79), 6 2B, 1 HR, 15 RBI
  • Royce Ando (INF): .281 (48-171), 7 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 19 RBI
  • Marty Bechina (INF): .263 (50-190), 8 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 29 RBI

And here are your returning pitchers Spartan fans.

  • Riley McCauley: ERA — 2.10, 1-0, 25.2 IP, 22 H, 6 ER, 49 SO
  • Mike Mokma: ERA — 3.20, 1-0, 25.1 IP, 31 H, 9 ER, 15 SO
  • Jake Lowery: ERA — 3.71, 2-4, 51.0 IP, 43 H, 21 ER, 70 SO
  • Ethan Landon: ERA — 6.29, 2-2, 48.2 IP, 62 H, 34 ER, 34 SO
  • Mitchell Tyranski: ERA — 3.94, 0-1, 16.0 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 18 SO

Clutch Offense

Throughout the 2017 season Michigan State’s offense was extremely efficient and consistent. Unfortunately it needs to be even better this year if the Spartans want to see real signs of improvement. That being said MSU still finished in the top five for multiple offensive categories within the conference.

  • On-Base Percentage: 2nd
  • Batting Average: 2nd
  • Slugging Percentage: 2nd
  • Doubles: 2nd
  • Stolen Bases: 3rd

The 96 stolen bases that the Spartans posted last year was good enough for the second most in school history.

Again, if the Spartans want to make a push in the Big Ten this season and finish much stronger than they did in 2017 their offense needs to be even better. Finishing in the top five of some very important statistical categories won’t be good enough. It didn’t cut it last year seeing as they finished with just 10 conference wins.

The biggest thing for MSU will be finishing. A lot of times last season the Spartans had plenty of chances / opportunities to win big non-conference games against top teams in the country like Clemson or South Carolina but they couldn’t drive any runs home. Sure, players would get on base and Michigan State would rack up hits but constantly leaving men on base was their ultimate downfall.

Jake Boss Jr.

What can I say about one of the best coach’s Michigan State baseball has ever had? Well I can tell you he’s closing in on his 300th career win as the leader of this ball club.

Entering his 10th season as the Spartan head coach Jake Boss has a record of 293-209. He’s won 59.1% of his games wearing the green and white and as a college baseball head coach he is 318-237. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Spartan Nation couldn’t ask for a better and more consistent coach than this guy. When he accomplishes this feat he will become just the fifth head coach in Michigan State history to reach the 300-win mark.

2017 Season Prediction

Michigan State is coming off a disappointing 2017 season. Their expectations were high and the results were unfortunately low. With 11 starters returning for the Spartans I’m confident they will finish better than they did last year.

It’s easy to feel this way when Jake Boss is leading the way. In the previous season, MSU started strong and finished terribly.

Boss will take advantage of his veterans, coach up his young guys, and make sure the necessary adjustments / improvements are made.

I do have MSU finishing better than they did last year, but not by much.

Conference: 7th place, 13-12

Overall: 32-22

Thanks for reading guys! If you are interested make sure to be checking back a few times a week as we will be posting about MSU baseball frequently.

Go Green!