Baseball in Washington D.C is almost the most American ideal one can ponder, the smell of corruption and hotdogs hanging over our nation's capitol for the duration of spring and summer, like smog in Beijing, can fill your heart with a sense of pride. When you think of BIG EAST baseball, though, it's rare that Georgetown University comes to mind as a powerful foe. Last year, the Hoyas went into the final weekend of the season with a trip to Omaha on the line against Seton Hall, being tasked with winning one game on the final day of the season to secure a spot in the post season for the first time since 1986. They did just that, made it to Omaha, only to lose out and return home.
The Hoyas will look a bit different this year. They lost their a bulk of major weapons on offense in BIG EAST Player of the Year Nick Collins, supreme DH A.C Carter, and second team All-BIG EAST shortstop Ryan Busch. On the mound they lost innings eater Matt Hollenbeck.
So, what's in store for the Hoyas this year? Who do they have back?
Non-Conference Key Games
- Wake Forest - 2/19/16 - finished 2015 at 27-26, #86 RPI, 6th in ACC Atlantic
- Davidson - 2/26-2/28/16 finished 2015 28-22, #128 RPI, 4th in A-10
P Matt Smith - Smith was an absolute workhorse for the Hoyas last season as he managed to throw 86 innings last season while maintaining a 2.80 ERA. Smith was able to compile a staff-high 78 strikeouts, walked just 29 batters, and managed to give up only two dingers throughout the season. Without a doubt, Smith is the glowing bright spot on this Georgetown squad and will look to cap his senior season with an armful of awards (All-BIG EAST last season).
CF Beau Hall - A major contributor to the Hoya offense last year, finishing with a triple slash line of .285/.438/.379 and finished 3rd on the team in slugging %. The one detriment to Hall's offensive game is that he strikes out quite often, leading the team with 40 whiffs. If Hall can learn to make better contact he'll be a crucial part of this offense, as his defense needs little to no adjustment as he was error-free in 2015.
RF Michael Derenzi - The then-freshman produced at a pretty high clip in a small sample, with a slash line of .296/.324/.301 in 71 at bats. With just 19 games started in right yet 33 games played, Derenzi was the spark plug off the Hoya bench, able to come out cold and give the team meaningful at-bats. I expect him to compete for the starting role in right this year and eventually become an everyday player.
LF Austin Shirley - A speedster outfielder, Shirley possesses an innate ability to get on base, posting a .382 OBP to go along with 22 walks, which is ideal for a kid who stole 10 bags in all 10 of his attempts. While only making one error in the field, Shirley will be dynamite for the Hoyas on the basepaths and will presumably bat lead off.
P Kevin Superko - Losing Hollenbeck as a cornerstone to the Hoya rotation was rough as it'll leave the Hoyas relying on Superko to win Saturday games. As a freshman, Superko managed to toss 56.2 innings, striking out 32 and walking 27. Opponents hit just .268 against him as he compiled a 3.65 ERA throughout 11 starts. Giving this kid a nod after a pretty good freshman year is about all the Hoyas can do.
Best Case Scenario
Georgetown is able to breeze through their non-conference schedule, which is filled with very beatable teams, and get into conference play above .500. Matt Smith has a dynamite year and continues to strike out inferior opponents and gets to the bullpen with a sizable lead. The competition at the top of the conference will be stiff, and with the relative inexperience the Hoyas feature up and down their lineup, a 4th place finish would be the most ideal. There isn't necessarily one thing this team does well, but they managed a good OBP throughout the 2015 campaign. To make it to the tournament would be best, and in a tournament style of play where they can utilize a moderately deep bullpen, they could potentially make a run for the title.
Of course, best case scenario is they win the whole damn thing, but even I'm not that optimistic.
Worst Case Scenario
The Hoyas stumble early in their non conference tournaments and fail to notch a win until the Ivy League portion of their schedule. Smith is unable to regain the composure and control he possessed the year previous without Hollenbeck to anchor the rest of the staff. They fail to win a single series going into conference play, end up with a couple wins in conference (sorry, Xavier) and finish near the cellar of the 7-team league. The rotation never comes together and Pete Wilk has to rely on a starter-by-committee approach, which adds a wave of uncertainty and the morale of the pitchers lessens as the year wears on, setting up a disastrous off season.
The absences of A.C Carter and Nick Collins is felt immediately and the bats never get off their metaphorical shoulders, resulting in an inability to generate offense. No team captain is evident and the team sort of flounders and sinks, leaving a state of disrepair in the off season, where Wilk realizes that, to compete, he'll need to scour the eastern seaboard to retrieve the castoffs of the top A-10 teams, eventually slipping into an era of mediocrity.
What will probably happen
Smith will be the ace for the Hoyas, with Superko sliding into a solid #2 slot. Eric Webber will continue to draw walks and play stellar defense behind the plate. Hall will lead the team in every offensive statistical category. The bullpen will shore up some of the damage the questionable back end of the rotation will leave behind, only to be just as mediocre. Successes from last season will carry on to this season and will inspire a handful of players, but won't be enough to overcome the glaring flaws this young team carries.
Will this be their year? I have my doubts. The Hoyas lost way too much talent to put together a successful campaign this year and will experience a wealth of growing pains.
Final BIG EAST ranking: 6th
Record: 18-40 - 5-13