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SEC Baseball: The First Half Recap

This weekend marks the turn to the back half of SEC baseball play. Let's take a look at who's hot and who's not so far.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

EAST

SEC

GB

Overall

1

Vanderbilt

11 - 4 - 0

-

28 - 10 - 0

2

Missouri

10 - 5 - 0

1

23 - 13 - 0

3

Florida

9 - 6 - 0

2

28 - 10 - 0

4

South Carolina

6 - 9 - 0

5

23 - 15 - 0

4

Georgia

6 - 9 - 0

5

20 - 18 - 0

6

Kentucky

5 - 9 - 0

19 - 16 - 0

7

Tennessee

5 - 10 - 0

6

15 - 17 - 0

WEST

SEC

GB

Overall

1

Texas A&M

11 - 3 - 0

-

33 - 3 - 0

2

LSU

10 - 5 - 0

31 - 6 - 0

3

Arkansas

7 - 8 - 0

22 - 16 - 0

3

Ole Miss

7 - 8 - 0

19 - 18 - 0

5

Mississippi State

6 - 9 - 0

22 - 16 - 0

5

Alabama

6 - 9 - 0

19 - 16 - 0

7

Auburn

5 - 10 - 0

23 - 15 - 0

Team of the Half Season--Texas A&M

With a 33-3 record overall and an 11-3 SEC record, the Aggies are the class of the SEC so far, but the road has not been the most difficult. A lackluster slate of non conference games and only facing a single SEC team with a winning record thus far has led to the Aggies posting a strength of schedule ranked 67th nationally (12th in the SEC), but the Aggies are currently ranked first in all five polls nationally and fourth in the RPI. As a team, A&M ranks first nationally in ERA at 2.07 which places the Aggies nearly three quarters of a run better than the next SEC team. The Aggies rank fifth nationally in batting average (.317, 2nd in the SEC) and are led by the SEC's leading hitter, sophomore outfielder Nick Banks (.417). The road toughens for A&M for most of the rest of the season as the Aggies face Arkansas, LSU, South Carolina and Ole Miss (along with the SEC's worst team, Tennessee) in the back half of the season.

Disappointment of the Half Season--South Carolina

After entering the season ranked between number five and 21 with a mean ranking of 12th, the Gamecocks rose as high as the consensus sixth ranked team in the country after sweeping Kentucky to start SEC play. Since then, Carolina has lost every series, dropping series at Missouri, Mississippi State and Florida, and at home to Georgia. The road does not get any easier this week with a home series against Vanderbilt (who dropped their own first series of the season with a home series loss to Ole Miss...more on that later). The worst part of South Carolina's swoon might be who it's come against. The Gamecocks have only played six games against teams in the RPI top 25 and are 2-4 in those games, but they are 4-7 in games against teams ranked 51-100. After being a two seed in last week's projections, d1baseball.com dropped the Gamecocks out of this week's NCAA tournament projection, but will have a chance to raise their number 69 RPI ranking with remaining series against Vanderbilt, Texas A&M and LSU (along with the possibility of needed wins against Tennessee and Auburn).

Surprise of the Half Season--Missouri

After opening SEC play with a sweep of Georgia, Missouri survived arguably one of the toughest stretches in the SEC all season of South Carolina, at Texas A&M and Florida with a 5-4 record. A series win at Tennessee has Missouri at 10-5 in SEC play and only a game back of Vanderbilt in the East at the midpoint of SEC play. Nationally, Missouri has only risen as high as 14th nationally this week in part due to their non conference results. An 13-8 record doesn't look terrible on the surface but, other than a single midweek game against Illinois, the Tigers highest rated non conference opponent is 126th ranked Milwaukee and the Tigers were swept at home by the Panthers. With a current RPI of 38, the Tigers will have a hard time rising high enough to garner a host spot in the postseason, but could be a dangerous number two seed in a regional.

Enigma of the Half Season--Ole Miss

Series wins over Vanderbilt and Florida (both ranked number one by a poll at the time of the series); a series loss against Tennessee and a 7-8 non conference record with multiple losses to UAB and Southern Miss. Inconsistency has been the theme of the season for the Rebels at the midway point of SEC play and that could place last year's College World Series team at risk of missing the NCAA Tournament simply due to their poor non conference record if they can not stay about .500 overall (presently 19-18 overall). With only two seniors and a junior (who only registered a single hit in 2014) among the top ten hitters on the team, this was always going to be a rebuilding year from a hitting perspective. Christian Trent and Brady Bramlett have kept the Rebels in series, but the lack of a reliable third starter has led to a 1-4 record in series finales in SEC play (and four of those were series deciders). After stealing a series with a Sunday win at Vanderbilt, the Rebels have a chance to make up some ground with series against Auburn and Alabama the next two weeks before closing with Missouri, arch rival Mississippi State and number one Texas A&M.

Who has surprised you in the first half of SEC play? What trends have you seen and what series are you looking forward to in remaining fifteen games?