#1 Vanderbilt Baseball 2020 Preview

Vanderbilt Commodores
Overall Rank: #1
Conference Rank: #1 SEC
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Vanderbilt heads into the 2020 season looking to defend their national championship as they beat Michigan to win their second national championship in program history. The Commodores won 59 games and captured the SEC double as they won the regular season championship and the conference tournament title for the first time in the same season since 2007. They also were the first program to win two College World Series titles on the grounds of TD Ameritrade Park.
2019: 59-12, 23-7
2019 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Tim Corbin
Key Departed Players:
JJ Bleday, OF, .347 BA, 27 HR, 72 RBI
Steven Scott, UTIL, .325 BA, 14 HR, 61 RBI, 5 SB
Ethan Paul, INF, .315 BA, 9 HR, 73 RBI, 11 SB
Phillip Clarke, C, .308 BA, 9 HR, 70 RBI
Pat DeMarco, OF, .293 BA, 7 HR, 50 RBI, 7 SB
Patrick Raby, P, 3.08 ERA, 10-1 W/L, 76.0 IP, 46 BB, 81 SO
Drake Fellows, P, 4.09 ERA, 13-2 W/L, 116.2 IP, 47 BB, 133 SO
Key Returning Players:
Austin Martin, UTIL, .392 BA 10 HR 46 RBI, 18 SB
Harrison Ray, INF, .276 BA, 2 HR, 38 RBI, 21 SB
Mason Hickman, P, 2.05 ERA, 9-0 W/L, 96.2 IP, 28 BB, 129 SO
Kumar Rocker, P, 3.25 ERA, 12-5 W/L, 99.2 IP, 21 BB, 114 SO
Tyler Brown, P, 2.19 ERA, 3-1 W/L, 49.1 IP, 9 BB, 65 SO, 17 SV
Ethan Smith, P, 3.27 ERA, 4-0 W/L, 33.0 IP, 17 BB, 47 SO
Hugh Fisher, P, 4.41 ERA, 34.2 IP, 21 BB, 46 SO
Vanderbilt will have some to work to do as far replacing the production of JJ Bleday, Ethan Paul, Stephen Scott, and Phillip Clarke. However, with the way that the Commodores recruit, they will reload and still score at least 500 runs as a team in 2020. Austin Martin hit .392 with ten homeruns, 48 runs batted in, and stole 18 bases. He will be back to anchor the 2020 lineup. Harrison Ray stole 21 bases and drove in 38 runs last season and will need to bump up those numbers just a little bit this season. The pitching staff is loaded as Mason Hickman went 9-0 with a 2.05 earned run average and did a great job of going after hitters as he struck out 129 batters in 96.2 innings. Kumar Rocker has ridiculous arm talent and he threw a no-hitter in game two of the Super Regional against Duke, striking out 19 in a 3-0 win for the Commodores. That win was the catalyst for Vanderbilt to go on a run that resulted in winning it all last June. Tyler Brown will be one of the best closers in the nation as Brown was absolutely dominant in 2019. He collected 17 saves, struck out 65 batters, and more importantly walked only nine batters in 49.1 innings. The season will open up against the Michigan Wolverines out in Scottsdale at the MLB4 Collegiate Tournament. That game will be followed by an intriguing game against UConn. UCLA, TCU, and Louisville will also be a part of the non-conference slate for the Commodores. Road trips to LSU, Florida, and Tennessee, along with a home series against Mississippi State, will go along a way towards determining whether or not Vanderbilt repeats as the SEC champion.  If Vanderbilt reloads the offense as expected you should see the Commodores back in the College World Series Championship Series with a heck of a chance to repeat this June.
Projected Postseason: NCAA Baseball Tournament