College Baseball RPI: Cal Drops Series, Gets RPI Lift

Brett Cumberland courtesy Cal Athletics

Most of you reading that headline are probably asking, “How on EARTH does a team LOSE a series and yet INCREASE their RPI?” I know this because that is exactly the comment made by one of our analysts as we began breaking down the data from the series that have finished up already this weekend.

“You’re telling me that Cal jumped 22 RPI points in LOSING their series against the Bruins! That just sounds like an anomaly or a broken system if you ask me.” – Minimalist Mark, College Baseball RPI Analyst

Yes, that is exactly what happened. However, it’s not a symptom of a broken, or even a moderately ill system of measurement. It’s just one of the unique facets of how all this RPI stuff ties together.

On Saturday, Ty Moore and Chris Keck delivered a one-two punch to Cal reliever Chris Muse-Fisher who came in with a 1-0 lead, two-on, two-out in the eighth and left the game trailing 2-1, with two-on, two-out. Bruins closer David Berg made it interesting, what closer doesn’t, but got out of a two-on, two-out situation of his own making by inducing Nick Halamandaris into a game-ending groundout.

So what gives? How does Cal improve from an 81st ranked, on-the-outside-looking-in, RPI to a 59th ranked, in-striking-distance, RPI with a series loss? I feature big jumps, just like these, in my College Baseball RPI Top Guns column.

The key is the opponent.

Cal pulled off a road win against a UCLA Bruins squad with a No. 2 ranked RPI and No. 3 ranked strength of schedule. Those kind of wins, even if you can snag just one, are the perfect salve for any College Baseball RPI woes you may have.

“Literally, a 59 ranked RPI is probably still too low for a College Baseball Regionals Projection bid, but a road win against a Top 25 team that has the resume you find in the Bruins’ locker room is going to massively impact your RPI.” – Literal Larry, College Baseball RPI Analyst

Cal opened the series with a 2-0 shutout win on Thursday night as starter Daulton Jeffries threw 6.2 scoreless frames and the pen of Alex Schick and Dylan Nelson allowed only one baserunner, on a hit-by-pitch, over the final 2.1 innings to close out the win.

Lucas Erceg homered in Cal's road win over No. 3 UCLA Friday night. Photo courtesy Cal Bears Athletics

Lucas Erceg homered in Cal’s road win over No. 3 UCLA Friday night. Photo courtesy Cal Bears Athletics

Lucas Erceg, Cal’s best hitter in the series, went deep on a 2-2 delivery from James Kaprielian to give the Bears what would prove to be an insurmountable 2-0 lead. Erceg went 4-for-12 (.333) on the series with a homer and three RBI for Cal.

“Let’s not whiff on how important Erceg has been for Cal this season with a .340/.597/.394 slash and the team lead in homers (9) and RBI (31) with 30 runs scored which is second on the team. If he could turn some of his fielding woes around (11 errors, .903 fielding percentage) he would be even more colossal for the Bears.” – Realist Ray, College Baseball RPI Analyst

The question remains for Cal as to whether it can capitalize on the RPI catapult received from the big win on Friday. Getting through the week ahead will be a challenge as the Bears finish a seven-game road trip at Stanford in the midweek and at Arizona next weekend.

If Cal emerges unscathed from the road trip, things don’t get any easier, as it gets two squads ranked in the College Baseball Central Top 25 with series against No. 7 Arizona State and No. 11 USC at home with a trip to Corvallis to face Oregon State to close out their Pac 12 slate.

About the Author

Mark West
Mark West grew up playing and loving baseball. In college, he found an interest in writing and reporting on sports. He graduated from Arkansas State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Radio and Television Broadcasting with a News emphasis and a minor in Political Science. Mark can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @MarkWestCBC Mark began writing a few years ago informally about politics and sports on various blogs, but has focused primarily on baseball writing for the last two years. He loves Arkansas State Red Wolves baseball and writes about the games and the players for the Red Wolves and the Sun Belt Conference. Mark is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, giving him official votes in the Dick Howser Trophy, Regional Players of the Year, and NCBWA All-America voting. Follow on Twitter @MarkWestCBC