As the season approaches and the Hoosiers get ready to start their Team-of-the-North road stretch, it’s as good a time as any to take a look at last year’s road statistics, particularly those for Opening Weekend.
As a team, Indiana averaged about as many offensive runs away from home (5.7) as they did at home (5.8) on an equal number of hits (9.3). From the mound, however, the Hoosiers gave up a full extra earned run on the road (5.1) compared to at the Bart (4.0). At the same time, Opening Weekend saw those trends reversed, as Indiana averaged just 4.5 runs on 8.3 hits while giving up an average of just 1.5 earned runs.
The other team-wide stat which stands out from the first series of the season were the strikeouts, where the Hoosiers struck out an average of 11.3 times per game, which was more than 3 Ks per game worse than their season average. Now, that Opening Weekend strikeout trend is an ongoing one, as the Hoosiers have averaged more strikeouts per game during the first series than they average on the season as a whole for at least the last three years. This is probably more of a Team-of-the-North issue than anything to be too worried about, as the team settles into the groove of being able to play outside. And with the amount of time the Hoosiers have been able to work outside in January, it will be interesting to see if the trend continues this season.
It can also be helpful to see how returning players fared on the road and in Opening Weekend. Just keep in mind that the first-series stats for individuals are super small sample sizes and so really need to be taken with a grain of salt.
(alphabetical by class)
Laren Eustace started pretty well Opening Weekend, hitting .307. He also had a better batting average on the road, but he had a particularly small sample size to look at.
Colby Stratten was in the same boat as Laren in the small sample size crew. He had a bit better average on the road (.214 vs .154), and was 1-2 during Opening Weekend.
Logan Sowers started last season abysmally slowly, hitting just .133 with just 2 hits compared to 7 strikeouts during the first series. He was able to grow and rebound off of that performance, and would go on to hit slightly better on the road (.295) than at home (.286).
Ryan Fineman had the opposite trajectory as Logan, as he started out ridiculously hot at the plate, batting .417 during Opening Weekend. His average on the road remained slightly higher than it was at home (.248 vs .225).
Matt Lloyd was slightly better at home last season (.319) vs away (.289), although he actually hit better with runners in scoring position on the road. He was slightly below that away batting average during Opening Weekend, where he went 3-13 (.231).
Luke Miller also hit slightly better at home compared to on the road last season (.281 vs .267). Luke, however, did not get much time Opening Weekend, where he had just a single at-bat as he was coming off an injury.
Matt Gorski also did not feature largely in the first series for the Hoosiers, where he was 1-2 on the weekend. On the season, he was one of the players to hit better on the road (.311) than at the Bart (.254).
Jeremy Houston started well at the plate Opening Weekend, where he hit .333 as a freshman. On the season, he hit better at home than on the road (.259 vs .218), although the difference between home and road batting average with runners in scoring position is even more stark (.400 vs .240).
(alphabetical by class)
Brian Hobbie was pretty even between home and away as far as ERA was concerned (6.65 at home vs 6.60 away). At the same time, he struck out a higher percentage of the batters he faced on the road (14%) compared to at home (11%). In Opening Weekend, he threw 5 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 6 hits vs Oregon State*.
Kade Kryzsko, a transfer pitcher last season, filled a variety of roles throughout the season. His ERA was higher on the road (4.15) vs at the Bart (3.65). Interestingly, he averaged 3 more pitches per inning on the road than he did at home, and he did not give up a single walk at home. During Opening Weekend Kade pitched 1.2 scoreless innings on 2 hits with 3 strikeouts against Gonzaga.
B.J. Sabol opened the season against Gonzaga as well, throwing 2.1 innings of scoreless relief, giving up a single hit compared to 3 strikeouts. On the year, he was pretty close to even in ERA at home vs on the road (4.61 vs 4.73). He did, however, strike out a higher proportion of the batters he faced on the road (25%) compared to at the Bart (18%).
Tim Herrin started the season with a win against Gonzaga, pitching 5 innings without giving up an earned run. He did allow 7 hits, but countered that with no walks. On the season, Tim tended to pitch better at home, where he had a 2.86 ERA compared to his 4.65 ERA on the road. At the same time, we walked a lower percentage of the batters he faced on the road (6% vs 12%).
Matt Lloyd did not join the Hoosier bullpen in game situations for about the first month of play. As such, he did not have any pitching stats for Opening Weekend. Through the season, his ERA was better at home (1.20) than on the road (3.12), although he only walked 1% of the batters he faced on the road compared to the 10% he walked at the Bart.
Pauly Milto also started his season against Oregon State*, where he threw 2.2 scoreless inning, giving up a single hit compared to a pair of strikeouts. Pauly was significantly better at home on the season, where he had an ERA of just 1.16. On the road, however, that ERA jumped to 5.74. He did walk fewer batters on the road than at home (5% of batters faced vs 8% of batters faced).
Jonathan Stiever was the starter in the first game against Oregon State*, pitching 5.2 innings of 1-run baseball, giving up 3 hits and 3 strikeouts. On the year, his road ERA of 4.69 was higher than that at home (3.68). Stiever was phenomenal at limiting the number of walks he gave up, and he was stellar both on the road (4% of batters faced) and at home (1% of batters faced).
Cam Beauchamp was one of the few pitchers to have a lower ERA on the road (3.45) than he did at the Bart (7.94). At the same time, however, he did walk a higher percentage of the batters he faced on the road (21% vs 13%). During Opening Weekend, he pitched a total of 3 scoreless innings (2 innings against Gonzaga), giving up 2 total hits while striking out 3.
Cal Krueger started the season out of the bullpen, where he pitched 1.1 innings during Opening Weekend (1 inning versus Gonzaga). In those outings, he gave up a single earned run on 1 hit with 1 strikeout. As the season went on, Cal tended to pitch better at home (1.88 ERA) than on the road (3.66 ERA).
Andrew Saalfrank rounds out the returning pitchers. He also pitched better at the Bart (3.68 ERA) than away from it (6.66 ERA). As with Kade, Andrew also had a 3-pitch-per-inning difference between home and away, although he tended to throw fewer pitches per inning on the road than at home. During Opening Weekend Andrew pitched 4 innings of one-run baseball against Gonzaga, giving up 4 hits and 3 strikeouts.
*As a reminder, this is the same Oregon State team that would finish the regular season with a 49-4 record on the way to grabbing the #1 overall national seed and an eventual berth in the College World Series. That was a pretty tough way to start the season.
Now, all of this doesn’t necessarily mean anything for the current incarnation of the Hoosiers. For one, the pitching staff last season was largely inexperienced, whereas it is now one of the more experienced staffs around. Several of the key bats also started the season abnormally slow (even for a Northern team). While the offense may be down compared to the eventual season as a whole, I do not foresee it to be quite as extreme as last year.