#5 Mississippi State Baseball 2020 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs
Overall Rank: #5
Conference Rank: #2 SEC
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Mississippi State had an excellent first season under the direction of head coach Chris Lemonis who became the winningest coach in SEC history for a first-year coach. The Bulldogs won 52 games, including 20 in SEC play and they advanced to the College World Series. Mississippi State had 11 players drafted in the 2019 MLB draft but will return a strong nucleus in 2020 that will set them up to contend for the SEC conference title.
2019: 52-15, 20-10
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Chris Lemonis
Key Departed Players:
Jake Magnum, OF, .358 BA, 1 HR, 39 RBI, 22 SB
Elijah McNamee, OF, .286 BA, 7 HR, 52 RBI
Ethan Small, P, 1.93 ERA, 10-2 W/L, 107.0 IP, 32 BB, 176 SO
Peyton Plumlee, P, 3.80 ERA, 7-5 W/L, 85.1 IP, 28 BB, 68 SO
Jared Liebelt, P, 2.96 ERA, 2-0 W/L, 54.2 IP, 11 BB, 38 SO
Cole Gordon, P, 3.80 ERA, 5-1 W/L, 42.2 IP, 24 BB, 69 SO, 11 SV
Colby White, P, 3.12 ERA, 3-1 W/L, 26.0 IP, 9 BB, 48 SO
Dustin Skelton, C, .314 BA, 10 HR, 55 RBI, 3 SB
Key Returning Players:
Tanner Allen, OF, .349 BA, 7 HR, 66 RBI
Justin Foscue, INF, .331 BA, 14 HR, 60 RBI
Jordan Westburg, INF, .294 BA, 6 HR, 66 RBI
Rowdey Jordan, OF, .290 BA, 6 HR, 49 RBI, 11 SB
JT Ginn, P, 3.13 ERA, 8-4 W/L, 86.1 IP, 19 BB, 105 SO
Brandon Smith, P, 3.93 ERA, 3-0 W/L, 36.2 IP, 6 BB, 31 SO
Jack Eagan, P, 3.09 ERA, 1-0 W/L, 23.1 IP, 17 BB, 34 SO
The Bulldogs were dominant in run differential last season as they outscored their opponents 530-269. Tanner Allen, Justin Foscue, and Jordan Westburg will form the core of the Mississippi State lineup in 2020. Allen had 96 hits in 2019, which ranked fourth overall in the nation. And 31 of those went for extra bases. Foscue hit. 331 with 14 homeruns, 60 runs batted in and 66 runs scored as he took a huge jump forward in his sophomore season. Westburg also had a huge sophomore season as he hit .294 with six homeruns, 66 runs batted in, and had a .402 on-base percentage. These three guys should be able to offset some of the lost production from Jake Magnum, who leaves Starkville as the all-time hits’ leader in the SEC with 383. JT Ginn will be the ace of the staff as he will be looking to build off of a strong SEC Freshman of the Year campaign. Ginn struck out 105 batters in 86.1 innings, while walking just 19 batters and limiting opposing hitters to a .220 average. Mississippi State will have some tough test in non-conference play as they will play Wright State, Oregon State, Long Beach State, and Texas Tech prior to SEC play. Arkansas will visit Dudy Noble Field and Mississippi State will travel to LSU for two critical tone setting conference series. Trips to Auburn and Vanderbilt will also go a long way towards determining whether or not the Bulldogs will win the SEC title. Look for another 45-50 wins by Mississippi State and another top eight national seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament