Can Vanderbilt Baseball still host a region after a slow start?
Vanderbilt baseball has stellar computer rankings and RPI. But with a resume that’s just meh, with few big wins and a .500 conference record, the Commodores (28-11, 9-9 SEC) aren’t top of the list to host an NCAA region. .
However, hopes are not yet dead for Vanderbilt. With four tough series ahead against ranked teams in Texas A&M, Georgia, Arkansas and LSU, there will be plenty of opportunities to build his resume and increase his already strong RPI.
Here’s how Commodores can still get into position to host even after a slow start:
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How RPI Works
RPI is calculated by adding together three components: team win percentage, opponent win percentage, and opponent win percentage. The opponent’s winning percentage counts for 50% of the score, and the other two components count for 25%.
So, the most important factor to increase RPI is to win matches. At 28-11, Vanderbilt has a strong record with winning most of its non-conference games. Losing to bad teams can quickly drop a team’s RPI — and the Commodores are one of six teams that haven’t lost to a team outside the top 100 RPI this season.
Freshman Devin Futrell is second in the nation with eight wins and made sure Vanderbilt easily took care of business midweek, keeping the Commodores’ winning percentage high overall. But Vanderbilt’s next two weeks will be the most important: Louisville is an ACC team that will almost certainly make a regional and Middle Tennessee is 51st in the RPI in a solid American conference. If Futrell and company can lead the Commodores to victory in those two games, it will add two more wins against potential postseason teams to the resume.
Vanderbilt’s problem right now isn’t RPI, though. Instead, the Commodores are still unranked in multiple polls and listed as the No. 2 seed in regional projections due to a light resume. The best team the Commodores have beaten in a series this year is Florida, which is now 6-12 in the conference. In order to host a regional, Vanderbilt will need to have something that stands out on the roster.
In the future, measurements and CV will probably fit. If the Commodores are earning enough to keep their RPI within the hosting range, they’ll likely fill out their resume. Texas A&M, LSU, Georgia and Arkansas all rank in the top 26 of the RPI, so any series win among those will qualify as a marquee.
How good Vanderbilt actually has to do in those remaining games to host depends on how other teams do, but the Commodores could also get a leg up on one of the other four in the hosting battle with a win. one-on-one, especially on the road. Winning two of four series could give Vanderbilt a chance to host, although a likely 15-15 SEC record in that case would be very slim. The last SEC, ACC, or Pac-12 team to win a seed in a region with a conference-high .500 was Florida State in 2017, which won three series against teams ranked, then won the ACC Tournament without losing a game. .
Winning three of four series and finishing with a 16-14 or 17-13 SEC record, along with wins over Louisville and Middle Tennessee, would make a stronger argument. Like 2017 Florida State, the Commodores could also earn a host spot by making noise in the SEC tournament, where their throwing depth could give them an edge.
It will be a tough task at this point for Vanderbilt to play postseason games at Hawkins Field, but it’s not out of the question that the Commodores could find more consistency in the final month of the season.