Friday, May 10, 2013

How Clemson Hosts a Regional

Each year, the Clemson Baseball team has one goal – to make it to Omaha. A goal so focused the word Omaha is etched on the back of their baseball caps. And history tells us one thing - the easiest way to get there is by going nowhere. And the best way to go nowhere is to earn one of eight national seeds, meaning you automatically host a Regional, and if you survive, a Super Regional.

Of the last 80 College World Series teams (a decade’s worth), 46 of them, or nearly 60%, started as a nationally seeded team. The remaining 34 participants are fairly evenly split between Regional Hosts (16 teams) and Non-Regional Hosts (18 teams).

With just over a week left in the season, Clemson sits at 34-15 with an RPI of approximately 12 (based on projections from boydsworld.com). Can they earn a national seed, or should hosting a regional be the goal? Can they secure a regional, or could they potentially be sent to a third-world SEC campus, like last year?

What is realistic, and what is a pipe dream?

Before we can play the guessing game, we need to do some research. Using RPI data for the last decade and total wins (pre-tournament) for the last eight years, we've developed the following trends on what it takes (or doesn’t take) to become a national seed and a regional host:

Becoming a National Seed:
  • Average RPI of all national seeds: just under 6
  • Highest RPI not earning a seed: 4 (Texas in 2004 - won CWS)
  • Average RPI of lowest rated national seed: 13
  • Lowest RPI to earn a seed: 19 (UC Irvine in 2009 - lost in the regionals)
  • Average Wins to earn a national seed: just under 44
  • Most Wins not earning a national seed: 47 (College of Charleston in 2005 - lost in Clemson regional)
  • Fewest Wins to earn a national seed: 35 (Georgia in 2008 - runner-up in CWS)

To have a legitimate shot at becoming a national seed, Clemson needs to work itself within the standard margins for what past national seeds have accomplished, which means they need to get their win total near 44, and increase their RPI rating to inside the Top 8-10.

According to Boyd's World baseball data (boydsworld.com), Clemson cannot raise their RPI to 8th or better with their remaining games nor increase their win total to 44 (not counting the ACC Tournament). At this point, Clemson would need to sweep their remaining non-conference games, win the series in Tallahassee, and at least make the Finals of the ACC Tournament to even be considered. And even then, they may be on the outside looking in as the ACC already has four ACC teams ranked higher than Clemson in the RPI. And the NCAA isn’t going to give the ACC five of the eight available slots, especially with the SEC and the need for some West Coast flavor.

Hosting a Regional:
  • Average RPI: just under 15
  • Average RPI of highest rated team to not become a host: 9.6
  • Highest RPI not becoming a host: 6 (Virginia in 2009 - advanced to CWS)
  • Lowest RPI to become a host: 33 (Oregon State in 2006 - won CWS)
  • Average Wins to become a host: 40.5
  • Average Wins of team with most wins to not become a host: 44.7
  • Most Wins not becoming a host: 47 (see C of C above)
  • Fewest Wins to become a host: 33 (Stanford in 2008 - semi's in CWS)

As Clemson currently stands, they are well within the typical parameters of what it takes to host a regional. If anything, they are closer to the 75th percentile, meaning they may have some wiggle room, as their current RPI is higher than the average RPI, and they could reach the average win total following the FSU series.

So, with all this said, what exactly does Clemson need to do to host a regional? Based strictly on data, Clemson needs to achieve the following:

RPI: 15 or better, preferably Top 12 (meaning they sweep their non-conference games, salvage the FSU series, and win 1-2 games in the ACC Tournament) Wins: 40 or more, preferably >42 (meaning they go 4-0 against GSU & USCU, win at least 1 in Tallahassee, and win at least 1 in the ACC Tournament). Clemson would need to either win the FSU series or reach the ACC Tournament finals.

I expect Clemson to have their season accomplishments rewarded with the hosting of a regional, but not garnering a national seed. If this is the case, look for them to be paired with an LSU or West Coast regional.

Check back next week as we update the data based upon the weekend’s games.

Go Tigers!

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