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Sunday Musings: Baseball, Offensive Line & Wide Receiver Optimism, Defensive End Concerns

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

We’re deep into the throes of the off-season now - past the point where season preview content is interesting but still far from Fall Camp and 2021 season preview content. You’ve probably noticed a corresponding lull in content posted here. Fortunately, Matt Goldin has carried the ship for us leading our baseball content. Kudos to him for that.

It’s disappointing that baseball has provided so little to cheer about. The Tigers are 15-17 (9-12) (Updated to reflect getting swept in Miami). They rank 159th in on-base percentage (.359) and T-36th for home runs per game (1.28). The pitching has struggled too, ranking 102nd in team ERA (4.53). Their .966 fielding percentage ranks worse yet at 170th (Stats through 4/16).

Not being local to Clemson and actually attending games regularly makes college baseball tough to follow. So many of their games are on ACCNX and the broadcast quality is quite poor. The lack of pitch speed and K-Zone really worsens the viewing experience. SECNX takes the cake though. Their broadcast of the Clemson vs. U of SC game was brutal. You could literally see the computer cursor flashing as they updated the pitch count during each at-bat and the sound was an overlay from the radio!

Over on the professional side, my beloved Yankees and local Braves are both below .500, with the former having the worst record in the American League. Over-reliance on analytics has become the new version of not believing in them at all. When will management learn to use advanced analytics as one input into a well-rounded decision making process? The Yankees trotted out an “opener” against their rival Tampa Bay Rays to pitch the first inning. By the time they got to their main pitcher they were in an 0-2 hole and never came back. Meanwhile, the Braves pitching is falling apart once again. Soroka is still injured, Drew Smyly and Max Fried have joined him on the IL. Charlie Morton, who I thought was a brilliant offseason signing, has a 4.76 ERA. I still believe the Morton and the Braves will figure it out, but I’m not so sure about the Yankees. They play a two-game set against each other starting next Tuesday.

I don’t know how many Clemson fans also follow the NHL, but I’ve really started to enjoy it over the past two years. For those who have lost their taste for the NBA and aren’t MLB fans, hockey is a great option for the football off-season. I’m a fan of the Nashville Predators, but the Carolina Hurricanes may just win the cup this year.

Of course, Clemson football is always king and I look forward to the season getting rolling. I’ve grown optimistic about our offensive line following positive commentary coming from Coach Swinney after practices. I’m excited about the depth at WR and RB. I know Clemson has to replace Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell, but with the potential for healthy seasons from Ross, Ladson, and Ngata, the emergence of EJ Williams, and the Collins Towers joining the team, WR should be a real strength.

I’m a little concerned about defensive end, but I’m encouraged by the fact that Henry may have been slowed by nagging injury last season. Perhaps after recovering from off-season surgery we’ll see him take it to a level we haven’t seen before. Xavier Thomas of course is a high-upside option that could play at DE opposite Myles Murphy, but he hasn’t shown consistency yet. The Tigers need at least one of them to come through, and it doesn’t seem like they can afford to lose a DE to injury. I went into more detail on Clemson following the Spring Game. You can check that out below.

This was a bit meandering, but this is the slow part of the off-season. Let me know what you think and if it is worth posting more of these. We have some NFL draft content around the corner, but it will slow down again after that.