#28 Missouri Baseball 2016 Preview

Missouri Tigers
Overall Rank: #28
Conference Rank: #8 SEC
 Missouri Logo
Missouri was probably a couple key wins away from making the NCAA Tournament last year. Their bad stretch of games to finish the season certainly didn’t help either. After winning their first two games in May against Ole Miss, the Tigers looked like an NCAA team. But then they lost seven of their final eight regular season games and failed to make a serious run in the SEC Tournament. That left them at 30-28 overall and 15-15 in conference play and on the outside looking in. Coach Tim Jamieson is entering his 22nd season at the helm of Mizzou and has the talent returning to get the Tigers back to being more than just competitive in the SEC.
2015: 30-28, 15-15
2015 Postseason: None
Coach: Tim Jamieson
Field Players:
The return of five of the team’s top seven hitters will help get the Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament. Ryan Howard led the team with a .308 batting average and belted 13 doubles and five homers. Brett Bond hovered around the .300 mark as well, ending the season with a .294 average. He too hit five homeruns. Jake Ring is more of a slugger though, despite hitting just four homeruns. On top of those homeruns, Ring led the team with 15 doubles and added three triples. Zach Lavy has some power too, but with Brett Peel gone, he is also the team’s top threat on the basepaths. Sophomore Trey Harris is another candidate to boost his production. He hit .263 with seven doubles and four homeruns.
The pitching staff returns two great weekend starters. Tanner Houck is an All-American candidate after going 8-5 in 15 starts with a 3.49 ERA as a freshman. In 100.2 innings pitched, the big 6-5 right hander struck out 91 batters and walked just 12. Reggie McClain went 7-7 in his 15 starts was right behind Houck with a 3.56 ERA. He too has great control and struck out 80 batters in 101.0 innings of work. Coach Jamieson will need to find another starter or two since nobody else returning started a game last season.
Who to Watch:
The pitching should be fine though, especially whenever Houck or McClain are on the mound. The problem Missouri had last season was getting players on base. The team as a whole had a .330 on-base percentage, ranking 264th in the country out of 295 Division I teams. This team has to find a way to generate runs by either being more patient at the plate. A year of experience could help for many of the players in that regard. The addition of freshman Marquise Doherty could help too. He was drafted in the 15th round of the MLB draft by the Royals, but is also a great football prospect and was one of the top running backs coming out of the Midwest. Doherty did redshirt with the Missouri football program in the fall and his future could lie there, but for now he is an excellent athlete with some speed and power to add to the lineup.
Final Projection:
With two proven starting pitchers and an experienced and lineup, this is a Missouri team that should get back to the NCAA Tournament in 2016. The offense needs to be better and find a way to end up on the winning side of those 4 to 3 type of games. This is not a team that really wants to generate runs by wasting outs and that means the younger starters from last year need to step up and get some clutch hits. All it will take is a few of those 4-3 games to go the other way and this team is in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Ryan Howard, IF, 224
Hits: Ryan Howard, IF, 69
Home Runs: Brett Bond, C/IF, 5; Ryan Howard, IF, 5
RBIs: Ryan Howard, IF, 39
Runs: Jake Ring, IF, 39
Stolen Bases: Zach Lavy, IF, 11
Wins: Tanner Houck, P, 8
Innings Pitched: Reggie McClain, P, 101.0
Strikeouts: Tanner Houck, P, 91
Saves: None
Madness 2016 Baseball Recruit Rankings:
#37 Marquise Doherty