28 Feb

power plays

Power isn’t everything in baseball. You can win without it. It can be pitched around. But power is something special. It jolts the ballpark. It dents the memory. You remember home runs years later. Billy Beane. Barry Lyons. Randy Milligan. Wesley Walls. Adell Davenport. Ray Montgomery. Fred Cooley. Daryle Ward. Tommy Bost. Jeff Francoeur. Jason Perry. Hunter Renfroe. Evan Gattis. Drug testing, much needed, took some of the wallop from the pro game, making legit power even more valuable. College baseball started turning down the power a few years ago with new bat specs, concerned that too many games were ending with scores like 15-12. Only 0.39 homers were hit per game in college baseball in 2014, the lowest figure ever. In 2015, after some changes to the ball, the home run started to make a comeback. Homers rose 43.5 percent over 2014. Wouldn’t be a surprise to see the number rise again in 2016. Did you notice what Delta State did on Saturday? Seven homers in one game, three by Trent Giambrone. (Unfortunately for the Statesmen, their pitching gave up 17 runs and the game was lost to Lee University.) Southern Miss is also enjoying a power surge to start 2016. The Golden Eagles have hit 14 home runs during their 6-0 start. Taylor Braley has four, Tim Lynch three. Sikes Orvis, who hit 16 homers for Ole Miss last year, is gone to the pros, but Colby Bortles and J.B. Woodman are threats to go deep for the Rebels. Woodman has two in six games to date. At Mississippi State, keep an eye on newcomers Jack Kruger, who has two homers already, and Nathaniel Lowe, who belted 17 bombs in junior college a year ago. Jackson State’s Jesus Santana hit 12 homers in 2015 and has three already in 2016. Alcorn State also has a slugger of note in Collin Carroll. No one really likes a 15-12 game – and those will be rare – but it’s good to see power back as a threat in the college game. Power is something special.

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