The (Final) Top College Players by (Maybe) Predictive Stats

On multiple occasions since the middle of March, the author has published here a statistical report designed to serve as a nearly responsible shorthand for people who, like the author, have enthusiasm for collegiate baseball, if not actually expert knowledge of it. These posts have served as a means by which one might broadly detect which players have produced the most excellent performances of the college season.

What follows is another edition of that same thing, updated to account for the completion of every conference’s regular season.

As in the original edition of this same thing, what I’ve done is utilize principles introduced by Chris Mitchell on forecasting future major-league performance with minor-league stats.

To review those principles very briefly: for hitters in the low minors (i.e. a level similar to the better collegiate leagues), the metrics most predictive of major-league success (besides age) are strikeout rate (K%), isolated power (ISO), and batting average on balls in play (BABIP). For pitchers, the most important metrics are strikeout rate (K%) and, less important but also second-most relevant, walk rate (BB%). What I’ve done here is to combine regressed versions of those various metrics into a pair index stats: MPS+* for hitters (where 100 is league average and above 100 is better than league average) and MPS-* (where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than league average.

*MPS denotes (maybe) predictive stats.

Using that methodology (about which one can read more thoroughly in an earlier post), I’ve identified six types of player in six different conferences each: the top overall batter, top draft-eligible batter, top defensive-type batter*, top overall pitcher, top draft-eligible pitcher, and top starting pitcher. The six conferences I’ve chosen represent (first) the five conferences to provide the most qualifying schools for the upcoming NCAA tournament, plus also the Missouri Valley Conference so that it might be possible to inspect more closely Indiana State’s Paul DeJong.

*Meaning, the top batter who also plays a position towards the more challenging end of the defensive spectrum.

Numbers don’t account at all for quality of opponent or park. Note that, as some conferences have less robust data than others, that I’ve had to provide (sensible) plate-appearance and batters-faced estimates in some cases. xK%, xISO, and xBABIP denote expected strikeout rate, isolated power, and batting average on balls in play, respectively.

ACC
Top Batter
David Thompson, 3B, Miami (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
David Thompson, 3B, Miami (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
David Thompson, 3B, Miami (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Sarkis Ohanian, RHP, Duke (Sr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Sarkis Ohanian, RHP, Duke (Sr)

Top Starter
Brendan McKay, LHP, Louisville (Fr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 David Thompson Miami Jr 3B 276 8.7% .348 .302 10.3% .262 .319 163
2 Will Craig Wake Forest So 1B 238 10.1% .319 .385 11.6% .237 .334 157
3 Zack Collins Miami So DH/C 269 20.1% .316 .350 19.7% .241 .328 145
4 DJ Stewart Florida St. Jr LF 267 15.0% .272 .345 15.5% .214 .327 140
5 Nate Mondou Wake Forest So 2B 248 12.1% .243 .349 13.2% .195 .328 136
6 Chris Shaw Boston College Jr RF 168 15.5% .292 .324 16.1% .207 .323 135
7 A.J. Murray Georgia Tech Sr RF/C 244 22.1% .301 .299 21.3% .228 .319 134
8 Logan Ratledge NC State Sr 2B 261 11.5% .222 .346 12.7% .183 .328 133
9 Matt Thaiss Virginia So C 248 8.1% .205 .321 10.0% .172 .323 130
10 Chris Okey Clemson So C 263 17.9% .237 .353 17.9% .193 .329 129

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Sarkis Ohanian Duke Sr RHP 45.2 180 34.4% 6.1% 30.6% 7.9% 68
2 Brendan McKay Louisville Fr LHP 82.0 312 33.0% 9.9% 30.8% 9.9% 73
3 Drew Harrington Louisville So LHP 31.0 121 34.7% 8.3% 29.6% 9.2% 74
4 Matt Pidich Pittsburgh So RHP 15.2 60 38.3% 8.3% 28.9% 9.5% 77
5 Isaac Mattson Pittsburgh Fr RHP 30.2 124 29.8% 4.0% 26.6% 7.4% 77
6 Michael Mediavilla Miami Fr LHP 33.0 128 34.4% 12.5% 29.6% 11.0% 79
7 Kenny Koplove Duke Jr RHP 25.1 109 33.9% 11.0% 28.8% 10.3% 79
8 Trent Thornton UNC Jr RHP 62.0 254 31.9% 12.2% 29.5% 11.3% 80
9 Mike Compton Florida St. Jr RHP 63.1 254 25.2% 3.9% 24.2% 6.3% 81
10 Billy Strode Florida St. Sr LHP 29.1 119 33.6% 12.6% 28.9% 11.0% 81

Notes
After a combination of thoracic outlet syndrome and a procedure to address same mostly ruined his sophomore year, Miami junior David Thompson has recovered this year to produce the top line among ACC batters by the methodology used here. He appears among the possible third-round candidates in the April edition of Kiley McDaniel’s draft-prospect rankings. Present among the first-round candidates within those same draft rankings is hard-throwing Louisville junior Kyle Funkhouser. Funkhouser finished just 72nd among all pitchers by MPS, producing strikeout and walk rates of 22.1% and 10.0%, respectively, over 98.1 innings.

***

American
Top Batter
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Cincinnati (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Seth Romero, LHP, Houston (Fr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Carson Cross, RHP, UConn (Sr)

Top Starter
Andrew Lantrip, RHP, Houston (So)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 Ian Happ Cincinnati Jr 2B/OF 252 19.4% .303 .428 19.2% .228 .340 148
2 Tucker Tubbs Memphis Sr 1B 258 10.5% .296 .283 11.9% .225 .313 148
3 Chris Iriart Houston Jr 1B 269 23.8% .273 .369 22.7% .213 .330 134
4 Dylan Moore UCF Sr SS 277 12.6% .208 .357 13.6% .174 .328 131
5 Luke Lowery E. Carolina Jr LF 236 23.3% .247 .373 22.2% .193 .330 127
6 Joe DeRoche-Duffin UConn Jr DH 214 23.8% .271 .321 22.5% .203 .320 127
7 Darien Tubbs Memphis So CF 274 8.8% .171 .329 10.4% .151 .322 125
8 Vinny Siena UConn Jr 2B 295 10.2% .158 .383 11.5% .143 .334 125
9 Tommy Williams UCF Sr 2B/DH 259 23.2% .221 .397 22.2% .180 .335 124
10 Erik Barber UCF Sr RF 246 20.3% .212 .355 19.9% .173 .327 122

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Seth Romero Houston Fr LHP 75.1 311 27.0% 6.1% 25.5% 7.2% 75
2 Andrew Lantrip Houston So RHP 104.1 423 25.3% 5.2% 24.3% 6.4% 76
3 Patrick Ruotolo UConn So RHP 36.1 149 34.9% 14.8% 29.7% 11.9% 76
4 Carson Cross UConn Sr RHP 106.0 418 25.8% 6.0% 24.8% 6.9% 76
5 Jimmy Herget So. Florida Jr RHP 94.2 399 27.3% 8.3% 26.0% 8.6% 77
6 Tommy Peterson So. Florida So RHP 43.2 180 27.8% 8.3% 25.2% 8.8% 80
7 Anthony Kay UConn So LHP 100.0 394 24.4% 6.3% 23.5% 7.2% 80
8 Reid Love E. Carolina Sr LHP 88.2 358 21.5% 2.8% 21.0% 4.9% 81
9 Drew Faintich UCF So LHP 9.1 39 46.2% 30.8% 28.5% 13.3% 83
10 Joe Ingle E. Carolina Fr RHP 30.2 127 32.3% 16.5% 27.4% 12.4% 83

Notes
Junior infielder/outfielder Ian Happ’s Cincinnati club finished only 15-41 overall and just 6-18 in the American conference this year. Whatever weaknesses the school possessed, none of them belong to Happ himself: he produced both the highest regressed isolated-power figure (.228 xISO) and the regressed BABIP (.340) among any hitter in the conference. That offensive performance, in tandem with his defensive flexibility, has allowed him to qualify as one of the 21 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes award.

***

Big 10
Top Batter
David Kerian, 1B, Illinois (Sr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
David Kerian, 1B, Illinois (Sr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Brandon Lowe, 2B, Maryland (So)

Top Pitcher
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Tyler Jay, LHP, Illinois (Jr)

Top Starter
Mike Shawaryn, RHP, Maryland (So)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 David Kerian Illinois Sr 1B 231 10.8% .278 .361 11.8% .207 .326 146
2 Ryan Krill Michigan St. Sr 1B 245 12.2% .263 .355 12.9% .201 .325 142
3 Brandon Lowe Maryland So 2B 287 9.8% .222 .351 10.8% .181 .325 137
4 Kyle Ruchim Northwestern Sr CF 178 7.9% .226 .362 9.8% .170 .325 134
5 Pat Porter Ohio St. Sr RF 247 16.2% .238 .370 16.1% .186 .328 133
6 Jason Goldstein Illinois Jr C 226 9.7% .207 .297 11.0% .166 .315 128
7 Mark Weist Michigan St. Sr 3B 258 9.7% .180 .363 10.8% .153 .327 127
8 Jacob Cronenworth Michigan Jr 2B 293 8.5% .167 .354 9.8% .146 .326 126
9 Carmen Benedetti Michigan So 1B 251 8.8% .168 .370 10.1% .145 .328 126
10 Greg Guers Penn St. Jr LF 230 13.0% .211 .296 13.6% .168 .315 125

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Tyler Jay Illinois Jr LHP 56.1 195 33.3% 3.1% 29.3% 5.8% 62
2 Mike Shawaryn Maryland So RHP 103.1 400 31.0% 5.8% 29.1% 6.7% 65
3 Ryan Halstead Indiana Sr RHP 40.0 159 32.1% 3.1% 27.8% 6.1% 67
4 Josh Roeder Nebraska Sr RHP 20.0 74 37.8% 4.1% 28.2% 7.4% 69
5 Luke Harrison Indiana Sr RHP 48.0 191 30.4% 6.8% 27.0% 7.8% 73
6 Kevin Duchene Illinois Jr LHP 89.2 347 24.5% 3.5% 23.4% 5.2% 76
7 Thomas Belcher Indiana So RHP 44.1 174 25.9% 2.9% 23.6% 5.8% 77
8 Nick Hibbing Iowa Sr RHP 41.1 149 23.5% 1.3% 21.7% 5.4% 80
9 Kyle Wood Purdue Jr LHP 5.2 31 41.9% 12.9% 25.3% 9.5% 82
10 Robert Galligan Maryland Jr LHP 48.2 202 25.7% 7.4% 23.7% 8.1% 82

Notes
Despite recording just a single start this year, Illinois left-hander Tyler Jay appears to have exhibited a compelling enough collection of tools to warrant a first-round pick. Indeed, Kiley McDaniel ranked him ninth among all draft prospects in April. McDaniel is less certain about draft-eligible sophomore Brandon Lowe’s precise spot among those same prospect, but places him among the more solid all-around position players. Both Jay’s Illinois club and Lowe’s Maryland one are included in the College World Series’ field of 64.

***

Missouri Valley
Top Batter
Kevin Kaczmarski, CF, Evansville (Sr)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Kevin Kaczmarski, CF, Evansville (Sr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Kevin Kaczmarski, CF, Evansville (Sr)

Top Pitcher
Brandon Koch, RHP, Dallas Baptist (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Brandon Koch, RHP, Dallas Baptist (Jr)

Top Starter
Matt Hall, LHP, Missouri St. (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 Kevin Kaczmarski Evansville Sr CF 221 10.4% .281 .509 12.1% .209 .359 156
2 Paul DeJong Illinois St. Jr 2B/3B/C 246 20.3% .271 .381 19.9% .208 .338 137
3 Ryan Tinkham Wichita St. Jr 1B 261 16.1% .243 .370 16.5% .193 .336 135
4 Chris Godinez Bradley Jr 2B 199 12.6% .225 .327 13.9% .175 .328 129
5 Sam Hilliard Wichita St. Jr RF 243 18.9% .211 .392 18.8% .172 .340 125
6 Justin Wall Dallas Baptist Jr LF 271 15.9% .211 .318 16.3% .174 .326 125
7 Andy Young Indiana St. Jr 3B 236 14.0% .202 .321 14.9% .166 .327 124
8 Jake Burger Missouri St. Fr 3B 221 11.3% .172 .369 12.8% .148 .335 123
9 Drew Turbin Dallas Baptist Sr 2B 255 17.3% .172 .435 17.4% .150 .349 122
10 Jacob Hayes Indiana St. Sr RF 236 24.2% .232 .341 23.0% .184 .331 120

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Brandon Koch Dallas Baptist Jr RHP 38.1 153 45.1% 15.7% 36.9% 12.8% 58
2 Matt Hall Missouri St. Jr LHP 108.0 432 35.2% 8.8% 32.9% 9.2% 59
3 Chance Adams Dallas Baptist Jr RHP 52.0 200 35.5% 6.0% 31.2% 8.0% 61
4 Jeff Degano Indiana St. Jr LHP 99.0 393 32.1% 7.1% 30.1% 8.1% 64
5 Jon Harris Missouri St. Jr RHP 89.1 360 29.2% 8.9% 27.5% 9.3% 74
6 Bryan Young Missouri St. So RHP 38.1 153 29.4% 8.5% 26.2% 9.4% 78
7 Jacob Hendren Illinois St. Jr LHP 106.0 424 23.3% 5.7% 22.7% 7.0% 80
8 Sam Perez Missouri St. Jr RHP 65.1 264 23.5% 5.7% 22.6% 7.5% 82
9 Austin Conway Indiana St. So RHP 51.2 201 25.9% 8.5% 24.1% 9.3% 83
10 Steve Adkins Bradley Jr RHP 53.1 226 24.8% 8.4% 23.4% 9.2% 84

Notes
Illinois State junior Paul DeJong sat atop the Missouri Valley batting leaderboard in the last iteration of this same exercise. Indeed, owing to a combination both of his offensive abilities and defensive flexibility, he remains a compelling amateur prospect. In the meantime, however, he’s been summarily passed by Evansville senior center-fielder Kevin Kaczmarski. Writing the MVC preview earlier this year, Michael Baumann of D1 Baseball suggested that Kaczmarski was a candidate to win the conference’s player of the year award. Even more impressively, he’s also been named one of the 21 semifinalists for the Golden Spikes award. Unfortunately, neither DeJong nor Kaczmarski will appear in the College World Series. Here’s who will, however: all the players listed here from Bradley, Dallas Baptist, and Missouri State.

***

Pac-12
Top Batter
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona (So)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona (Jr)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Bobby Dalbec, 3B, Arizona (So)

Top Pitcher
Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Oregon (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Garrett Cleavinger, LHP, Oregon (Jr)

Top Starter
Griffin Canning, RHP, UCLA (Fr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 Bobby Dalbec Arizona So 3B 253 23.7% .282 .376 22.3% .212 .329 135
2 Scott Kingery Arizona Jr 2B 259 6.9% .169 .407 8.7% .146 .335 132
3 Austin Rei Washington Jr C 110 25.5% .352 .411 22.3% .205 .326 131
4 Lucas Erceg California So 3B 233 9.9% .212 .311 11.2% .169 .317 130
5 Jeff Hendrix Oregon St. Jr CF 262 14.1% .204 .388 14.5% .167 .331 130
6 Chris Keck UCLA Sr 3B 255 10.2% .199 .317 11.4% .164 .318 128
7 KJ Harrison Oregon St. Fr 1B/C 255 19.6% .229 .357 19.0% .181 .325 127
8 Chris Paul California Sr 1B 213 17.8% .223 .371 17.5% .173 .326 126
9 Devin Pearson California Jr RF 137 15.3% .217 .392 15.7% .158 .326 123
10 Bobby Stahel USC Jr LF 256 11.3% .145 .412 12.3% .132 .336 121

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Garrett Cleavinger Oregon Jr LHP 39.2 151 43.7% 11.9% 36.0% 10.4% 59
2 Ryan Burr Arizona St. Jr RHP 41.2 187 36.9% 12.3% 32.1% 10.7% 70
3 Griffin Canning UCLA Fr RHP 63.2 248 26.6% 2.4% 25.0% 5.1% 74
4 Grant Dyer UCLA So RHP 53.1 204 30.4% 6.9% 27.5% 7.8% 74
5 Dylan Nelson California Sr RHP 26.0 107 31.8% 8.4% 26.8% 8.8% 79
6 James Kaprielian UCLA Jr RHP 97.2 388 27.6% 8.0% 26.3% 8.3% 79
7 Tucker Forbes UCLA So RHP 34.1 138 29.0% 6.5% 25.7% 7.9% 79
8 Andrew Moore Oregon St. Jr RHP 114.2 424 24.3% 4.5% 23.6% 5.8% 79
9 David Berg UCLA Jr RHP 61.2 230 24.3% 3.0% 23.2% 5.6% 80
10 Alex Schick California So RHP 34.0 137 31.4% 10.9% 27.3% 9.9% 80

Notes
For much of the spring, the combination of junior Scott Kingery at second base and other junior Kevin Newman at shortstop appeared to render Arizona’s infield the most offensively talented in all the Pac-12. The season now over, the school still retains that distinction, albeit for slightly different reasons. Neither Kingery (second in the conference at 132 MPS+) nor Newman (12th at 120 MPS+) have acquitted themselves poorly, at all. Rather, sophomore third baseman Bobby Dalbec has just performed particularly well. He’s currently regarded by Kiley McDaniel as a likely first-round selection in next year’s draft. Unfortunately, none of that infield triumvirate will appear in the College World Series. Here are the Pac-12’s six entries: Arizona St., California, Oregon, Oregon St., USC, and UCLA.

***

SEC
Top Batter
Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas (So)

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas (So)

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Andrew Benintendi, CF, Arkansas (So)

Top Pitcher
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Jr)

Top Starter
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Vanderbilt (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP MPS+
1 Andrew Benintendi Arkansas So CF 253 11.5% .347 .381 12.6% .257 .340 161
2 Dansby Swanson Vanderbilt Jr SS 285 14.4% .304 .372 14.9% .237 .339 150
3 Kyle Martin So. Carolina Sr 1B 254 10.6% .286 .339 11.9% .222 .332 146
4 Christin Stewart Tennessee Jr LF 221 17.2% .322 .320 17.2% .236 .329 142
5 Alex Bregman LSU Jr SS 278 7.2% .238 .321 9.0% .196 .328 139
6 Sikes Orvis Ole Miss Sr 1B 238 23.1% .333 .288 22.0% .246 .323 137
7 JJ Schwarz Florida Fr DH/C 249 16.5% .284 .314 16.6% .220 .327 137
8 Chris Chinea LSU Jr DH/C 248 12.5% .217 .376 13.4% .180 .339 130
9 Zander Wiel Vanderbilt Jr 1B 274 17.9% .242 .356 17.8% .198 .336 130
10 Harrison Bader Florida Jr LF 253 17.8% .257 .312 17.7% .204 .327 129

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% MPS-
1 Carson Fulmer Vanderbilt Jr RHP 100.2 403 33.7% 9.4% 31.9% 9.4% 71
2 A.J. Puk Florida So LHP 61.2 255 33.3% 11.0% 30.7% 10.3% 77
3 Andrew Lee Tennessee Jr RHP 27.0 96 33.3% 5.2% 28.1% 7.8% 77
4 Alden Cartwright LSU So RHP 19.0 85 32.9% 4.7% 27.6% 7.7% 78
5 A.J. Minter Texas A&M Jr LHP 21.0 89 32.6% 9.0% 27.5% 9.2% 82
6 John Kilichowski Vanderbilt So LHP 58.2 229 26.6% 5.7% 25.3% 7.2% 83
7 Ben Bowden Vanderbilt So LHP 32.2 135 30.4% 8.9% 27.2% 9.1% 83
8 Bobby Poyner Florida Sr LHP 52.1 200 25.0% 3.0% 24.0% 5.9% 83
9 Tanner Houck Missouri Fr RHP 100.2 398 22.9% 3.0% 22.6% 4.9% 84
10 Bret Marks Tennessee Sr RHP 77.0 321 27.7% 8.7% 26.5% 8.9% 84

Notes
There are multiple ways one might measure it, but by probably all of those ways the SEC is college baseball’s strongest conference. No other conference is sending more teams to the NCAA tournament’s field of 64. No other conference features more teams in D1 Baseball’s top-25 rankings. Nor does any conference at all feature more players among the top-10 prospects within Kiley McDaniel’s most recent draft rankings. Given the strength of the conference, the performances of Arkansas center fielder Andrew Benintendi and Vanderbilt right-hander Carson Fulmer are particularly notable. The former was the conference’s best hitter; the latter, its best pitcher. The former achieved that distinction while playing center field; the latter, while working as a starter. Both are draft eligible, as well.





Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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Dillon Tate
7 years ago

This looks fucking retarded without the Big West.

Well-Beered Englishman
7 years ago
Reply to  Dillon Tate

And my Rice Owls!

But Carson really buried the lede here. The lede being: there is a baseball player whose first name is Carmen.