The Top College Players by (Maybe) Predictive Stats

What follows does not constitute the most rigorous of statistical analyses. Rather, it’s designed to serve as a nearly responsible shorthand for people who, like the author, have considerably more enthusiasm for than actual knowledge of the collegiate game — a shorthand means, that is, towards detecting which players have produced the most excellent performances of the college 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: KATOH+ for hitters (where 100 is league average and above 100 is better than league average) and KATOH- (where 100 is league average and below 100 is better than league average.

Using that methodology (about which one can read more thoroughly in an earlier post), I’ve identified six types of player in three different conferences each. Here are the types of player: top overall batter, top draft-eligible batter, top defensive-type batter*, top overall pitcher, top draft-eligible pitcher, and top starting pitcher. And here are the conferences: the Atlantic Coast (ACC), the Pacific 12 (Pac-12), and the Southeastern (SEC). As for why I’ve chosen those three conferences, it’s because they featured the most teams collectively included in D1 Baseball’s top-25 preseason rankings.

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

There are nearly one-thousand caveats to supply concerning the data here. 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. Stats are current as of Monday.

ACC
Top Batter
Will Craig, 1B, Wake Forest (So)

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
Mike Compton, RHP, Florida St. (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP KATOH+
1 Will Craig Wake Forest So 1B 173 9.2% .379 .395 11.5% .252 .337 161
2 David Thompson Miami Jr 3B 172 8.1% .324 .331 10.7% .224 .329 149
3 Nate Mondou Wake Forest So 2B 181 12.7% .293 .378 14.1% .211 .335 142
4 Chris Shaw Boston College Jr RF 139 15.8% .347 .337 16.5% .224 .329 141
5 Logan Ratledge NC State Sr 2B 163 11.7% .248 .396 13.4% .185 .337 133
6 DJ Stewart Florida St. Jr LF 172 18.0% .289 .341 18.0% .207 .330 132
7 Matt Thaiss Virginia So C 157 7.0% .227 .304 10.1% .174 .325 129
8 Chris Okey Clemson So C 161 16.8% .266 .345 17.1% .193 .331 129
9 Alex Perez Virginia Tech Sr 2B 176 11.4% .212 .379 13.1% .170 .335 127
10 Kel Johnson Georgia Tech Fr RF 106 27.4% .326 .492 24.0% .202 .343 126

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% KATOH-
1 Sarkis Ohanian Duke Sr RHP 29.0 110 39.1% 2.7% 32.2% 7.0% 64
2 Brendan McKay Louisville Fr LHP 47.0 173 36.4% 8.1% 32.1% 8.9% 69
3 Drew Harrington Louisville So LHP 28.1 108 37.0% 7.4% 30.8% 8.8% 72
4 Kenny Koplove Duke Jr RHP 16.1 73 41.1% 12.3% 31.4% 10.5% 75
5 Billy Strode Florida St. Sr LHP 15.2 65 40.0% 10.8% 30.3% 10.0% 77
6 Matt Pidich Pittsburgh So RHP 15.2 60 38.3% 8.3% 29.1% 9.4% 78
7 Jesse Adams Boston College Jr LHP 33.0 137 32.8% 11.7% 28.9% 10.6% 82
8 Alec Bettinger Virginia So RHP 32.2 136 30.9% 9.6% 27.6% 9.7% 83
9 Michael Mediavilla Miami Fr LHP 18.1 66 34.8% 10.6% 27.9% 10.0% 83
10 Trent Thornton UNC Jr RHP 41.0 163 32.5% 12.9% 29.1% 11.3% 83

Notes
In the first edition of this same exercise following the first week of collegiate games back at the end of February, Louisville sophomore left-hander Drew Harrington appeared second among all ACC pitchers, having recorded a 50% strikeout rate over just 4.1 innings. He’s proceeded to appear among the conferences’ top-five pitchers in every week since that point. Harrington’s teammate Brendan McKay has been excellent, but only five of his 12 appearances — i.e. less than half — have occurred in a starting capacity. The conference’s current top starter by the methodology used here is actually absent from the top-10 leaderboard. Florida State junior right-hander Mike Compton doesn’t possess particularly impressive arm speed, but has recorded just a 3.7% walk rate over five starts and 27.2 innings.

***

Pac-12
Top Batter
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona (Jr)

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

Top Defensive-Type Batter
Scott Kingery, 2B, Arizona (Jr)

Top Pitcher
Ryan Burr, RHP, Arizona St. (Jr)

Top Draft-Eligible Pitcher
Ryan Burr, RHP, Arizona St. (Jr)

Top Starter
James Kaprielian, RHP, UCLA (Jr)

Top-Ten Batters

# Name School Yr Pos PA K% ISO BABIP xK% xISO xBABIP KATOH+
1 Scott Kingery Arizona Jr 2B 159 6.3% .239 .469 9.0% .175 .340 140
2 Lucas Erceg California So 3B 148 9.5% .258 .330 11.4% .181 .322 133
3 KJ Harrison Oregon St. Fr 1B/C 157 18.5% .280 .408 17.8% .194 .332 132
4 Chris Keck UCLA Sr 3B 144 10.4% .240 .324 12.1% .172 .321 128
5 Chris Paul California Sr 1B 137 15.3% .259 .382 15.5% .179 .328 128
6 Brett Cumberland California Fr C 142 14.1% .260 .325 14.7% .181 .321 127
7 Bobby Dalbec Arizona So 3B 155 21.9% .269 .400 20.3% .188 .331 126
8 Bobby Stahel USC Jr LF 152 9.2% .180 .456 11.1% .146 .337 125
9 Kevin Kramer UCLA Jr SS 157 10.8% .183 .405 12.3% .148 .331 122
10 Gabe Clark Oregon St. Jr DH 119 17.6% .268 .254 17.1% .178 .314 120

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% KATOH-
1 Ryan Burr Arizona St. Jr RHP 24.2 106 43.4% 11.3% 34.0% 9.9% 65
2 Garrett Cleavinger Oregon Jr LHP 19.2 78 44.9% 12.8% 33.1% 10.2% 68
3 David Berg UCLA Jr RHP 32.2 123 33.3% 2.4% 28.5% 6.3% 70
4 Grant Dyer UCLA So RHP 30.0 110 35.5% 6.4% 29.4% 8.0% 72
5 James Kaprielian UCLA Jr RHP 57.2 228 30.7% 7.5% 28.2% 8.1% 76
6 Griffin Canning UCLA Fr RHP 49.1 187 27.3% 2.1% 25.3% 5.4% 76
7 Andrew Shaps Arizona St. Fr LHP 3.0 14 64.3% 0.0% 27.3% 8.3% 79
8 Dylan Nelson California Sr RHP 17.2 75 33.3% 8.0% 26.8% 8.7% 81
9 Andrew Moore Oregon St. Jr RHP 68.0 252 24.6% 4.0% 23.6% 6.0% 82
10 Bernardo Flores USC So LHP 26.2 112 29.5% 7.1% 25.8% 8.3% 82

Notes
Based on the leaderboards here, it would appear as though UCLA are particularly well prepared for the collegiate postseason. Even more than the major-league playoffs, the collegiate version — because there are fewer games — allow clubs to distribute an even higher percentage of innings in the direction of their best pitchers. UCLA, one finds, features four — two starters and two relievers — of the Pac-12’s top-six pitchers. Neither James Kaprielian (6.0 IP, 27 TBF, 6 K, 5 BB) nor Griffin Canning (5.0 IP, 20 TBF, 3 K, 0 BB) were dominant this weekend at USC; however, their strong work earlier in the season allows them to remain here.

***

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

Top Draft-Eligible Batter
Harrison Bader, LF, Florida (Jr)

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 KATOH+
1 Andrew Benintendi Arkansas So CF 160 12.5% .383 .333 13.6% .251 .333 151
2 Harrison Bader Florida Jr LF 154 14.9% .372 .348 15.4% .243 .334 147
3 JJ Schwarz Florida Fr DH/C 157 15.3% .360 .291 15.7% .239 .327 142
4 Kyle Martin So. Carolina Sr 1B 166 7.8% .279 .370 10.2% .203 .337 140
5 Alex Bregman LSU Jr SS 179 4.5% .270 .304 7.5% .201 .329 140
6 Christin Stewart Tennessee Jr LF 136 17.6% .364 .324 17.4% .233 .332 139
7 Dansby Swanson Vanderbilt Jr SS 181 13.8% .279 .393 14.5% .206 .341 136
8 Jared Foster LSU Sr COF/2B 132 15.2% .305 .300 15.6% .205 .329 130
9 Mikey White Alabama Jr SS 156 19.2% .271 .449 18.5% .197 .347 129
10 Josh Tobias Florida Sr 3B 119 11.8% .257 .427 13.4% .182 .342 129

Top-Ten Pitchers

# Name School Yr Pos IP TBF K% BB% xK% xBB% KATOH-
1 Carson Fulmer Vanderbilt Jr RHP 57.0 231 35.1% 10.0% 31.9% 9.8% 73
2 Andrew Lee Tennessee Jr RHP 15.1 48 41.7% 4.2% 29.6% 8.3% 75
3 Scott Weathersby Ole Miss Sr RHP 29.1 106 33.0% 5.7% 28.4% 8.0% 77
4 Bobby Poyner Florida Sr LHP 35.1 129 27.9% 1.6% 25.6% 6.1% 80
5 Alden Cartwright LSU So RHP 13.0 59 35.6% 5.1% 27.9% 8.4% 80
6 Robert Tyler Georgia So RHP 14.0 60 36.7% 10.0% 28.4% 9.6% 81
7 Bret Marks Tennessee Sr RHP 56.1 232 29.3% 8.2% 27.5% 8.8% 82
8 Mark Ecker Texas A&M So RHP 15.1 59 35.6% 8.5% 27.9% 9.2% 82
9 Ben Bowden Vanderbilt So LHP 22.1 87 33.3% 9.2% 28.0% 9.4% 82
10 Brady Bramlett Ole Miss So RHP 50.2 209 27.8% 6.2% 26.2% 7.7% 82

Notes
Arkansas sophomore center fielder Andrew Benintendi appeared fourth among SEC hitters in last week’s edition of this same exercise; now he appears first. In Arkansas’ five games since last weekend, Benintendi recorded four home runs and just one strikeout. His 13 total home runs represent the highest such mark in the SEC now — as do both his raw and regressed isolated-power figures (.383 and .251, respectively). It’s a promising collection of skills Benintendi features, with a combination of contact, power, and defensive value.





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

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frangipard
7 years ago

“As for why I’ve chosen those three conferences, it’s because they featured the most teams collectively included in D1 Baseball’s top-25 preseason rankings.”

Most of the way through the season, the count is now:
SEC – 5
Big 10 – 4
Pac-12 – 3
ACC – 2

Just sayin’