Investigating the first 10 rounds of the 1965-2001 drafts to determine which four-year school has produced the most major-league value.
Among pitchers who have debuted since 1965, three of the five best career WARP totals belong to players drafted out of the collegiate ranks. Former Texas Longhorn Roger Clemens leads the way with 103.4 WARP earned over 24 big-league seasons, followed by ex-Southern Cal star Randy Johnson (90.7). Prep hurlers Greg Maddux (83.9) and Steve Carlton (73.4) take the third and fourth spots, and another former Trojan, Tom Seaver (72.9), rounds out the top five.
While schools like Texas and USC are well known on the national stage, successful baseball programs can claim significant credit for increasing the profiles of several less-familiar colleges and universities, including Pepperdine, Cal State Fullerton, and Long Beach State, three schools lacking the profile (and revenue) associated with Division I football programs.
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The top-ranked Astros prospect discusses baseball life at Stanford, the draft experience, and backstop particulars.
The 10th overall selection in the 2008 draft, Jason Castro has quickly established himself as the top prospect in the Astros organization. A 21-year-old catcher who played his college ball at Stanford, Castro made his professional debut with Tri-City in the short-season New York-Penn League, where he hit .275/.383/.384. The left-handed-hitting backstop continued to impress in the recently completed Hawaiian Winter Baseball League, hitting .324/.429/.473 with two home runs in 74 at-bats for the North Shore Honu. Castro talked with David about his approach to the game and the Stanford baseball experience when Tri-City visited Lowell in the final weeks of the regular season.
Coming down the home stretch, with SEC, ACC and Pac-10 action starting to decide tournament hopes.
No elaborate opening today, as I'll let the subplots tell the stories here in the final weeks of the college baseball season. Tournament implications abound in weekend series, and here's what I found to be the six biggest stories:
A tremendous slate of conference clashes helped resolve who's headed in the right direction.
We return to format this week, though last week was a useful way to provide a wider view of the national picture. It also highlighted numerous matchups this weekend that will prove paramount to the decision-makers in May. For example, USC traveled to UCLA-a long bus ride, I'm sure-and came away with two wins to open the series. However, because last week was highlighted by so many battles, that clash isn't even one of the six I'm highlighting today. In fact, you'll notice some cramming in a few places, because halfway through the season, no other weekend had as many notable developments as this weekend's action did.
Can Louisville turn its season around against St. John's?
Last year's college baseball postseason was jam-packed with a greater number of fantastic subplots than most years. While numerous teams made storybook runs to the College World Series, none was more interesting than the upstart veteran Louisville Cardinals team. The Cardinals lost a double header last May 25 to St. John's to drop the Big East title, and were then assigned to the University of Missouri regional, and scheduled against Miami in the first round.
Some surprise losses this weekend reshuffle the Top 12 Rankings.
Anyone concerned about disparity in college baseball--are any of you left now?--were surely quieted this weekend, as it proved a difficult one for many of the nation's top teams. Former top-ranked Ole Miss and Texas lost a pair of tough series in the Lone Star State, as the Rebels lost a road battle to TCU and the Longhorns were unable to hold off red-hot Stanford in Austin. Oregon State's trip to the San Diego State Tournament started horribly, as the Beavers opened the weekend with losses to Loyola Marymount and San Diego. Michigan had a similar fall in the Keith Leclair Classic, losing to Georgia Southern and East Carolina before salvaging a Sunday win.
I could go on, and hopefully the six points below work well enough as a continuation of this general point, but it's increasingly clear that no college baseball team is safe. As Rice found out--dropping midweek games to Sam Houston State and Dallas Baptist as well as Friday's game against Michigan State--there is talent to be found in a lot of places in college baseball right now. Here were the six most noteworthy showings:
Virginia's dominance might be tempered if we consider strength of schedule, and Stanford might deserve some optimism.
When you're 10-0, everything can be seen through rose-colored glasses. To my knowledge, the Virginia Cavaliers were the first team to reach the ten-win mark when they finished their sweep of Cornell and Siena with a 12-3 Sunday win. It was the fifth time in ten games the Cavaliers scored ten runs, and they continued their season-long streak of allowing less than five runs in every game. Their offense is hitting .383/.475/.548 and has scored 109 runs; their pitching staff has a 1.09 ERA, 12.4 K/9 and has allowed just 19 runs. I'm pretty sure that Pythagoras would tell you that 10-0 sounds right.
If you're following the College World Series for the first time, you've picked a really great year to do it. The format has changed this year so that the TV-inspired one-game crapshoot final of the past fifteen years has been replaced with a best-of-three round between the winners of the two half-brackets. Given that most college teams are built around the idea of winning a three-game series, this should show the teams at their best. On top of that, there have already been some great games this week, and the final comes down to two of the three best teams in the country, so I'm really excited about this weekend. So you can share that excitement, I want to give you a viewer's guide to this weekend's series.
While it won't affect play on the field, there's an added bonus in the identity of the two teams involved. As college baseball has become increasingly popular -- this year's postseason tournament will most likely net over $3 million for the first time -- there's been an increasing risk of footballitis, the failure of the balancing act that results from the odd state of having big-money sports programs existing in conjunction with institutions of higher learning. The last two national champions, Texas and Miami, have been put on probation this year due to rules violations by assistant coaches, although in the Texas case, the punishment was merely a slap on the wrist. Stanford and Rice, on the other hand, while not the mythical pure ivory towers, are both considered by most measures to be among the top academic institutions in the nation, and their sports teams are required to meet the same admissions and academic standards as the rest of the student body. In Stanford's case, the baseball players are actually strongly encouraged to get ahead in their coursework so that they'll be closer to graduation if they leave after being drafted after their junior years. It's a fairly safe bet that we won't see a third straight national champion in need of investigation.
Overall, these two teams should be extremely well-matched. In my rating system, Rice and Cal State Fullerton have swapped back and forth all year for the top spot, but Stanford has been steadily closing the gap for the last couple of months. For the last month, all three have been well within the margin of error of the ratings, so Rice and Stanford under neutral conditions fall into the "play 99 and somebody will win 50" category.