#10 LSU Baseball 2016 Preview

LSU Tigers
Overall Rank: #10
Conference Rank: #3 SEC
 LSU Logo
LSU will be a young, but still very talented team heading into the 2016 season and will be looking to get back to Omaha for the second year in a row. The Tigers last year won 54 games and were absolutely dominant at times and will need to ride the arms of Alex Lange and Jared Poche’ until the everyday lineup can get firing on all cylinders after starting against a fairly light non-conference schedule during the first month of the season.
2015: 54-12, 21-8
2015 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Paul Maineiri
Field Players:
LSU is going to be replacing eight of its nine everyday starters from its 2015 lineup. Thus, a concerted effort towards the basic fundamentals both at the plate and defensively are going to be critical keys to the success of the Tigers in 2016. Junior outfielder Jake Fraley is the lone starting position player that will be returning for LSU this spring. Fraley hit .307 with two homeruns, 35 runs batted in and played excellent defense by committing just two errors for a .980 fielding percentage last season.
The duo of Alex Lange and Jared Poche’ are back and that is a huge plus for the those are probably one of the best 1-2 combinations in any pitching rotation in the country. Lange was 12-0 last season with a 1.97 earned run average and only walked 46 batters in 114.1 innings of work while striking out 131. Poche’ was 9-2 with a 3.05 earned run average last season. While Poche was not quite as dominant with the strikeouts, the ability to pitch to contact still worked very well as opposing teams only hit .248 last season against Poche’.
Who to Watch:
Sophomore closer Jesse Stallings is back to lock things down on the back end of games and that is going to be critical for the Tigers as they will probably play tighter games more often this season. Stallings was 1-2 with a 2.73 earned run average and collected 12 saves in 2015. Incoming freshman outfielder Antoine DuPlantis has the ability to hit for power to go along with his outstanding athletic ability should be in a position to make an immediate impact in the everyday lineup. Freshman infielder O’Neal Lochridge will also play right away along the left side of the Tigers infield as Lochridge was the 2015 Class 4A Louisiana Most Outstanding Player and a 2015 All-American according to Louisville Slugger, Perfect Game and Max Preps.
Final Projection:
The schedule sets up well for this young reloading LSU squad to get off to a fast start as the Tigers will only play two games away from Alex Box Stadium between February 19 and March 20. The Tigers will have a neutral site battle with Louisiana-Lafayette in New Orleans as part of the Wally Pontiff Jr. Classic on March 22. The battle with the Ragin’ Cajuns could be a potential NCAA Tournament matchup once again. A trip to College Station to play Texas A&M will be the first road series test of the season. That series became even more intriguing as the Aggies just recently dismissed their projected Friday night starter Tyler Stubblefield for a violation of team rules. The rest of the schedule is pretty balanced with tough trips to Ole Miss and a mid-week trek up to South Bend in early May to play Notre Dame. Florida visits on the final weekend of regular season play in what could be a battle for the SEC regular season title. In the end, this LSU team will go through some ups and downs, but they should be peaking at the right time in the postseason and will be a dangerous team to deal with in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament
Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Jake Fraley, OF, 225
Hits: Jake Fraley, OF, 69
Home Runs: Jake Fraley, OF, 2
RBIs: Jake Fraley, OF, 35
Runs: Jake Fraley, OF, 50
Stolen Bases: Jake Fraley, OF, 23
Wins: Alex Lange, P, 12
Innings Pitched: Alex Lange, P, 114.0
Strikeouts: Alex Lange, P, 131
Saves: Jesse Stallings, P, 12
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#14 Ryan Cole McKay
Madness 2016 Draft Rankings:
#32 Jared Poche'
#45 Jake Fraley