The Rest of the Lineup: The Five Most Important Remaining SEC Baseball Series

As we approach the end of the season, football and basketball fans start wondering about just how their baseball teams are doing. Mississippi State fans, you can go about your business. In any case, here are the decisive match-ups that will shape the end of the season over its last three weekends. (Note: All statistics are SEC games only. And I know, not all of them are sabermetically sound. Sabermetrics are still relatively new to the college game.)

MAY 7-9

ARKANSAS at OLE MISS
This is likely the series that will decide the SEC West. One of these teams is going to emerge in a commanding position for the last two series of the season, depending on what happens in Auburn's series against Mississippi State this weekend. If Arkansas sweeps, it needs only to not do too badly against South Carolina (see below) or Vanderbilt on the season's final weekend to coast to the division title. An Arkansas win still puts the Razorbacks in a solid position. An Ole Miss win makes the looming series with Auburn (see below) all the more important.
ARKANSAS · Batting: .324 BA / 31 HR / 163 R · Pitching: 5.05 ERA / 119 R / 56 BB / 148 K · Fielding: .968 / 15 E
OLE MISS · Batting: .284 BA / 21 HR / 136 R · Pitching: 5.24 ERA / 128 R / 94 BB / 204 K · Fielding: .976 / 12 E

VANDERBILT at LSU
It's not likely that both of these teams can survive this weekend. Each game either Vanderbilt or LSU loses makes it more difficult to rally from third or fourth place to win its respective division. That said, both have the same problem even with a win here: They've already played the top two teams in their divisions.
VANDERBILT · Batting: .269 BA / 9 HR / 96 R · Pitching: 3.08 ERA / 76 R / 67 BB / 135 K · Fielding: .966 / 12 E
LSU · Batting: .302 BA / 26 HR / 155 R · Pitching: 6.58 ERA / 147 R / 86 BB / 147 K · Fielding: .977 / 18 E

MAY 14-16

SOUTH CAROLINA at ARKANSAS
One of the keys to winning your division is to not lose too many games outside of the division. Winning interdivision series can help build a lead or at least help you keep the pace. It's not as dangerous to your standing as losing to other teams in the division, but it's trouble you can do without. Arkansas will at this point either be trying to recover from a loss to Ole Miss or trying to make sure its lead doesn't slip away. And South Carolina wants to have as solid a lead as possible when facing Florida (see below).
SOUTH CAROLINA · Batting: .297 BA / 34 HR / 150 R · Pitching: 3.89 ERA / 95 R / 59 BB / 177 K · Fielding: .978 / 17 E
ARKANSAS · Batting: .324 BA / 31 HR / 163 R · Pitching: 5.05 ERA / 119 R / 56 BB / 148 K · Fielding: .968 / 15 E

MAY 20-22

AUBURN at OLE MISS
Auburn has already played Arkansas, meaning this is their last chance to take on one of the West's leaders. If Ole Miss wins against Arkansas and Auburn plays well the rest of the month, this could be an all-or-nothing showdown. If not, it could be nothing more than a seeding battle. But bet on it meaning something.
AUBURN · Batting: .322 BA / 39 HR / 173 R · Pitching: 5.14 ERA / 124 R / 72 BB / 137 K · Fielding: .963 / 28 E
OLE MISS · Batting: .284 BA / 21 HR / 136 R · Pitching: 5.24 ERA / 128 R / 94 BB / 204 K · Fielding: .976 / 12 E

FLORIDA at SOUTH CAROLINA
Barring a miracle finish on the part of Vanderbilt or a collapse by one of the contenders, this is the series that will decide the SEC East. Both teams pitch and field well, and South Carolina has a slight edge on offense. South Carolina also has a one-game lead right now, but a slightly more difficult schedule between now and then (at Arkansas, at Kentucky as opposed to at Alabama, Georgia). It's hard to see the division being decided by now.
FLORIDA · Batting: .287 BA / 28 HR / 123 R · Pitching: 4.23 ERA / 95 R / 49 BB / 132 K · Fielding: .984 / 13 E
SOUTH CAROLINA · Batting: .297 BA / 34 HR / 150 R · Pitching: 3.89 ERA / 95 R / 59 BB / 177 K · Fielding: .978 / 17 E

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