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SEC Baseball Weekend Preview: Miami (FL) vs. Florida; Georgia vs. Florida State

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It looks like the drive to add more offense to the game through the new balls is working out; plus, an unusual foe drops by College Station for a series

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

LEADING OFF

The question on everyone's mind -- and one we're going to try to track periodically here at Team Speed Kills -- is just how much the new baseballs will contribute to increased offense this year. There are already some pretty astounding anecdotes here and there that seem to indicate the new balls are "working," depending on what you think of the goal of juicing the game, but we all know that anecdotes are not evidence.

Looking at just the results from the first week of SEC play this year and last, though, we can begin to see that there does seem to be an effect on scoring.

R / GM H / GM HR / GM
2014 10.0 16.4 0.70
2015 11.7 18.0 1.12

The biggest jump by percentage is in home runs per game, which is pretty much what you would expect; the number of long balls has jumped 60 percent in the course of a year. Were it not for the small sample size so far, that would be well within the range of what you would consider statistically significant. And even with the relatively small sample size, it looks like less than a coincidence.

Overall runs are up about 17 percent, and hits are up roughly 10 percent. Again, that's in line with what you might expect. Runs would be affected some, because of the increase in home runs, but that's not necessarily going to be anything close to a one-to-one ratio. And the new balls might help batters get an additional base hit that's not a home run here or there, but mostly it's going to be turning very long fly-ball outs into home runs, meaning the increase in hits could be expected to be marginal. (Another potential impact is that coaches might tell their batters to bunt less, leading to more hits, but that would require a deeper dive into the numbers than I've done so far.)

It's still to early to proclaim that the era of gorillaball has returned (and hopefully we won't ever be able to do so). But the goal of creating more offense appears to be going pretty well so far.

THE BEST OF THE WEEKEND

Florida State at Georgia. Georgia actually plays the Seminoles fairly regularly early in the season. Why? I suppose for the same reason that an unsupervised child sticks a metal object into an electrical socket. The two teams have played eight games since the beginning of the 2010 season, and Georgia is 1-7 in those games. These also don't tend to be close affairs; the Seminoles have won by an average of 5.4 runs a game. In fact, the only three games in which Florida State didn't win by at least five runs all came in 2011 -- which also happens to be the last time the series was in Athens. The Seminoles are currently in every major ranking, and the Dawgs are not, making this a prime opportunity for Georgia to make a statement if it's able to.

Miami (FL) at Florida. How good is Miami's baseball program? The Hurricanes have been in the NCAA tournament every year since 1973. Yes, the last time they missed the tournament, Richard Nixon was preparing to run for re-election and "Watergate" was just the name of a hotel in Washington, D.C. The Gators are currently a good program as well, having made the field every season beginning in 2008. Meaning this has all the drama of an in-state rivalry and happens to be a clash between two Top 15 teams according to basically any ranking you look at. The ACC and SEC are two of the best conferences in the nation in college baseball (even if the ACC hasn't had a team win the College World Series since roughly the dawn of the Industrial Age), so there's also some conference bragging rights on the line here.

Penn State at Texas A&M. This is more of a novelty pick than anything, because all indications are that the Nittany Lions are a very, very bad baseball team. How bad? They just got swept at Elon. After giving up 34 runs. Following a 16-15 barnburner in the first game of the series, Elon outscored Penn State 18-8 in the final two games. Meanwhile, the Aggies are averaging almost 11.8 runs a game. So if you like to see a lot of runs scored, this could be your series.

THE LINEUP

DAY TIME GAME TV / WEB
Friday 3 p.m. ET Arkansas vs. UCF (Mobile, AL) COX SPORTS
3 p.m. ET Lipscomb at Tennessee
3 p.m. ET Boston College at LSU SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Wright State at Ole Miss SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Radford at Auburn SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Missouri vs. Sam Houston State (Corpus Christi, TX)
5 p.m. ET Florida State at Georgia SEC NETWORK+
5 p.m. ET Indiana State vs. Vanderbilt (Port Charlotte, FL)
5 p.m. ET Marshall at Mississippi State SEC NETWORK+
5 p.m. ET Kentucky at UC Santa Barbara
7 p.m. ET Miami (FL) at Florida SEC NETWORK+
7:30 p.m. ET Penn State at Texas A&M SEC NETWORK+
7:30 p.m. ET Alabama at Houston
8 p.m. ET Boston College at LSU SEC NETWORK+
Saturday Noon ET Florida State at Georgia
1 p.m. ET Alabama A&M at Mississippi State
1 p.m. ET Indiana State vs. Vanderbilt (Port Charlotte, FL)
2 p.m. ET Radford at Auburn SEC NETWORK+
2 p.m. ET Northeastern at South Carolina SEC NETWORK+
2:30 p.m. ET Wright State at Ole Miss SEC NETWORK+
3:05 p.m. ET Penn State at Texas A&M SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Boston College at LSU SEC NETWORK+
4:30 p.m. ET Florida State at Georgia SEC NETWORK
4:30 p.m. ET Marshall at Mississippi State
5 p.m. ET Kentucky at UC Santa Barbara
5:30 p.m. ET Radford at Auburn SEC NETWORK+
5:30 p.m. ET Northeastern at South Carolina SEC NETWORK+
7:30 p.m. ET Miami (FL) at Florida SEC NETWORK
7:30 p.m. ET Arkansas vs. South Alabama (Mobile, AL) COX SPORTS
7:30 p.m. ET Alabama at Houston
8 p.m. ET Missouri at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi
Sunday 11 a.m. ET Arkansas vs. Maryland (Mobile, AL) COX SPORTS
Noon ET Missouri vs. Purdue (Corpus Christi, TX)
1 p.m. ET Miami (FL) at Florida SEC NETWORK+
1 p.m. ET Indiana State at Vanderbilt (Port Charlotte, FL)
1 p.m. ET Alabama at Houston
1:30 p.m. ET Northeastern at South Carolina SEC NETWORK+
2 p.m. ET Penn State at Texas A&M SEC NETWORK+
2:30 p.m. ET Wright State at Ole Miss SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Alabama A&M at Mississippi State SEC NETWORK+
4 p.m. ET Kentucky at UC Santa Barbara