2012 Record: 40-24, 16-14 SEC
2012 Finish: Tied Second Western Division
2012 Postseason: Eliminated in Tallahassee Regional
Mississippi State was just outside the top-tier SEC teams last year while from time-to-time dabbling with the conference’s best teams.
This year, the Bulldogs should be considered one of those top-tier teams who can make a serious run at Omaha.
They return their only .300-plus starter in junior Adam Frazier — .371 average with 16 doubles and 26 RBIs in 64 games — but the entire lineup is going to have to improve if they want to be considered better than the conference’s second-class of teams. Mississippi State hit .251 and had only 21 homers in 2012, which is not going to cut it in the SEC.
Where Mississippi State really stood out last season was on the mound. It had a 2.58 team ERA and allowed opposing batters to hit .240 last season.
The Bulldogs return one of their two starters who made at least 10 starts last season in senior Kendall Graveman. The righty led the team with 16 starts, went 4-4 and posted a 2.81 ERA.
Sophomore Jonathan Holder has been named to the Stopper of the Year Watch List following a freshman campaign in which he went 2-1 with a 0.32 ERA in 24 appearances. He also held opposing hitters to a .173 batting average.
If the Bulldogs are going to be competitive in the SEC this year, which they should be, they are going to have to improve upon their true road record. They went 5-12 in true road games, and that’s a kind of record national-title contenders cannot have.
If Mississippi State improves upon its true road record, then this team is going to be very dangerous, especially during conference play.
Key Series: vs. South Carolina, May 16-18 — The Bulldogs had a great stretch at the end of the season that ended in an SEC Tournament title, so this year’s final series of the regular season could act as a catalyst for this year’s postseason run. If Mississippi State can upset the Gamecocks, it could be exactly what they need to repeat as tournament champions.