#1 Vanderbilt Baseball 2015 Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores

Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 SEC  
#1 Vanderbilt Baseball 2015 Preview
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Vanderbilt finally completed their quest for that elusive first national championship in program history by outlasting Virginia in the Championship Series in three games. Even with the difficulty of recruiting due to the high academic standards, Coach Tim Corbin has done an excellent job of creating a juggernaut in Nashville. The Commodores should once begin be right there with a shot at defending their national title in late June as they are loaded with talent once again.

2014: 51-21, 17-13
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Corbin

Field Players:
Vanderbilt can beat you in so many ways offensively. They can win with their relentless aggressiveness on the basepaths, execution of small ball, or timely homeruns like they did in clinching the national championship off of Cavaliers closer Nick Howard. Outfielder Brian Reynolds and Infielder Dansby Swanson will anchor a very balanced offensive attack for the Commodores. Reynolds hit .338 and can hit for some power as well, hitting four homeruns while driving in 54 runs. Reynolds is also pretty good defensively and he only committed two errors last season. Swanson hit .333 with three homeruns and 34 runs batted in and stole 22 bases in 27 attempts in 2014. Swanson also does a nice job of consistently getting on base, as he had a .411 on-base percentage last season.

Walker Buehler will be back as the ace of the rotation for Vanderbilt this season and he is a serious threat to be the National Pitcher of the Year in 2015. Buehler was 12-2 with a 2.64 earned run average and can be electric at times on the mound, striking out 111 batters in 102.1 innings pitched. Tyler Ferguson is back as well for the Commodores and he should be a part of the weekend rotation. He had a rock solid 8-4 season with a 2.64 earned run average in 2014. Ferguson does a pretty nice job of making teams put the ball in play and he only walked 30 hitters in 77 innings pitched.

Who to Watch:
Carson Fulmer is the ultimate versatile type of pitcher you need when you are trying to defend a national championship. Fulmer was 7-1 with a 1.98 earned run average and has that unique ability to both specialize as a closer and be stretched out as a starter. Fulmer’s versatility will come in handy if the Commodores are ever in any type of an elimination game scenario in the NCAA Tournament and need to save their bullpen from being overworked.

Final Projection:
Vanderbilt will be in the position of having a huge target on their back for the first time this season as they embark on defending their national championship. The schedule does set up for a fast start as the first significant test of the season will be a trip to Los Angeles to play UCLA, USC and TCU out at Dodger Stadium. The matchup with the Horned Frogs could be a preview of the 2015 College World Series Championship Series. The conference schedule will, like always, be a difficult gauntlet to navigate through. Arkansas visits Nashville to open up conference play and the Razorbacks are always dangerous on an annual basis. A road trip to South Carolina in mid-April will be a nice litmus test for the Commodores to see how well they deal with being the hunted as the reigning national champion. Florida visits Nashville in the early part of May and that may be an extra NCAA Tournament warmup as that series begins a stretch of games that include road games at Louisville and Alabama. This stretch should have Vanderbilt nice and battle tested for the NCAA Tournament. Overall, the pieces are in place for a run at a second straight national championship if the Commodores can stay healthy and handle the increased pressure of defending a national championship.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Dansby Swanson, IF, 282
Hits: Brian Reynolds, OF, 95
Home Runs: Zander Wiel, IF, 5
RBIs: Brian Reynolds, OF, 54
Runs: Dansby Swanson, IF, 63
Stolen Bases: Dansby Swanson, IF, 22

Wins: Walker Buehler, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Walker Buehler, P, 102.1
Strikeouts: Walker Buehler, P, 111
Saves: Carson Fulmer, P, 10

Madness 2015 MLB Draft Rankings:
#4 Walker Buehler
#6 Dansby Swanson
#13 Carson Fulmer
#64 Tyler Ferguson

Madness 2015 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#15 Jeren Kendall
#39 Will Toffey


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