Tennessee by the numbers: How the Volunteers became college baseball’s latest powerhouse

As of week six of the college baseball season, Tennessee has been the unanimous No. 1 team in college baseball with just one brief exception in week 12. The Volunteers retook the consensus top spot in week 13 and haven’t looked back since.

At 56-7, the Volunteers were not only the best team in baseball, they were the newest powerhouse program. Tennessee hasn’t lost since May 14 and only one team (Kentucky) has won a series against them all season.

Now Tennessee finds themselves in the Super Regionals against Notre Dame with a trip to the College World Series at stake. The Volunteers have never won a Division I baseball title.

How dominant was Tennessee? The Sporting News dives into the numbers behind his success in 2022.

Tennessee in numbers

let the differential run

As you might expect, the gap between Tennessee’s runs scored and runs allowed is wide. The volunteers scored 592 runs and allowed just 173 for a difference of 419 runs. The difference in team ERA versus opponent’s ERA ranges from 2.38 (best in baseball) to 8.99 (would rank 286 out of 293 if by a single team).

On average, the volunteers outperformed teams by 6.65 runs per game. There have only been 21 games – out of a total of 63 games – in which the volunteers have won by three runs or fewer. In comparison, they’ve won in 32 games with at least six runs.

To put that 173-run allowed in further (amazing) context, volunteer hitters have 150 home runs and 150 doubles. Tennessee’s top three batsmen have driven in 209 runs alone. Seven batsmen have more than 173 at-bats. Third baseman Trey Lipscomb has 172 total bases.

bases empty

It’s hard to score when teams can’t get anyone on base. And that was the case with teams facing the volunteers.

Tennessee’s pitching staff has a combined WHIP of .98, the lowest in college baseball. Closest is Southern Miss who combined for a 1.14 WHIP. This WHIP is a product of baseball’s lowest walk rate of 2.5 walks per game and the fewest hits allowed per game at 6.34.

But there is more. The volunteer pitching team has also hit the fourth-least hitters this season at 31.

Volunteer firefighter

Ben Joyce, nicknamed “The Volunteer Fireman,” has garnered national attention with his red-hot fastball, which set a college baseball record at 105.5 mph, the fastest on record. While the rest of the bullpen might not have the same fire behind their fastball as Joyce did, they do know how to put out fires.

Tennessee has turned to six aides to appear in at least 20 games this season. The highest ERA in that group is 2.63 from Camden Sewell, who also had the most innings of any primary assistant with 48 in 24 appearances. Kirby Connell has an ERA of 1.45 in 37.1 innings, Mark McLaughlin has an ERA of 1.53 in 29.1 innings, Will Mabrey has an ERA of 2.01 in 40.1 innings, Joyce has an ERA of 2.48 in 29 innings and Redmond Walsh has an ERA of 2.58 inches 38.1 innings.

Each of these pitchers has at least 40 strikeouts, and Sewell and Mabrey are the only two assists with opposing batting averages over .200 (.224 and .220, respectively). McLaughlin, Tidwell, Joyce, and Walsh are the only walkers with at least 10 walks (Walsh has 10, the other three have 11).

Tennessee smoked

The pitching team has done enough this season to help the volunteers win many games. But the batters have also produced one of college baseball’s finest offenses. And it starts with the long ball.

This season, nine Tennessee batters have recorded at least 10 home runs, making them the only team in Division I baseball that can field a complete starting lineup with batters who have hit double-digit home run totals. Maryland is the only team in college baseball to even have eight batters with at least 10.

The lineup has completed 150 home runs combined, the most of any team in the sport. Those nine batters alone have 130, which would be the third highest for any team in college baseball, behind only Maryland’s 137.

The volunteers also lead college baseball with a team slugging percentage of .607. The second highest slugging percentage in the sport by a team is Virginia Tech’s .578, a difference of .029. Combined with their .421 on-base percentage, the Volunteers lead all of college baseball with a 1.028 OPS.

The best team ever?

Everything about the 2022 season in Tennessee speaks to the team’s all-around dominance. The Volunteers are the best pitching team in college baseball. They are the best batting team in college baseball.

There are occasional real powerhouse programs, most recently in 2017 and 2018 with Oregon State. But does Tennessee have a case for the best team of all time?

Based on the Massey Ratings, the 2022 Volunteers are the best college baseball team since ratings began in 1997. They have a rating of 9.59, which is higher than the 2020 UCLA team’s 9.36 — that team also has not a full season ended – and the beavers 2017 at 9.35 a.m. Oregon State lost the College World Series that season, while the 2018 version, which has the fourth-highest Massey rating, won the title the following year.

Leave a Comment