Stanford baseball has earned a national seed for the second year in a row after a historic 2018 season under first-year head coach David Esquer. The No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and the 22-8 conference record speak for themselves, but some of the other numbers that emerged from Stanford’s season tell the story of just how particularly special Stanford’s 2018 regular season was.
48: Games it took Stanford to hit the 40-win mark. It was the fastest the program had reached 40 wins since the 1990 team did so in 47 games. Sure, how quickly a team gets to 40 wins doesn’t necessarily reflect how it will ultimately perform in the postseason, but this team is still clearly one of the best the program has fielded in recent years — which was also exemplified by the Cardinal securing the Pac-12 championship, the program’s first conference title since 2004.
2.85: Team ERA, which includes three starters with sub-3.00 ERAs (Tristan Beck, Kris Bubic and Brendan Beck), freshman reliever Jacob Palisch (4-1, 1.87 ERA) and closer Jack Little (3-0, 0.66 ERA). Stanford’s team ERA is the second-lowest in the country behind Stetson, and the best the Cardinal have recorded since the Pac-8 expanded to the Pac-10 in 1978.
4: Number of Stanford players who were intended to be in the team’s opening day lineup but have since been replaced (Daniel Bakst), have lost significant playing time due to injury (Brandon Wulff), or are still hurt (Duke Kinamon, Maverick Handley). Despite these personnel shifts, the team has showcased impressive depth, with players such Beau Branton, Will Matthiessen, Christian Molfetta and Christian Robinson all stepping in for, and in some cases outperforming, the original projected starters.
4: Stanford comeback wins in the ninth inning or later. The Cardinal have had their share of ninth-inning luck in the regular season. They stayed undefeated and avoided a shutout loss in their second game against Michigan with a walk-off three-run homer by Tim Tawa. They scored five runs against Arizona to eke out a 8-7 win; they escaped being swept by both Oregon State and Washington with late three-run rallies in both series finales. The Cardinal have framed these comebacks as exemplary of their “never-give-up” attitude — and while that may be true, at a certain point, their luck may run out, especially against tougher competition in the postseason.
6.69: Runs scored per game. Stanford has been better at scoring this season compared to the recent past — the Cardinal haven’t plated this many runs per game since 2008, the last time the team made it to the College World Series. Powering the offense have been Andrew Daschbach, whose home runs and RBIs are the most for any Cardinal since 2008; Beau Branton, who is hitting a team-leading .379; Kyle Stowers, who leads the Cardinal starters with an OPS of .948; and Nico Hoerner, who leads the team in hits.
Contact Alexa Philippou at aphil723 ‘at’ stanford.edu.