I'm really excited that Northern Illinois baseball is starting back up again starting this weekend with a 4-game series against the #5 Arizona State Sun Devils. That will start off a brutal 19-game road trip while Dekalb tries to thaw out of the snow. Last season was a bit of a letdown because of all the injuries primarily to the pitching staff.
The preseason polls put the Huskies as the 5th best team in the MAC West, but this team has a ton of potential to beat that prediction. First we'll take a look at the offense, which needs to replace some serious holes in the outfield to be successful. However with the infield remaining intact, there should be a distinct increase on the defensive end of things.
What we lost
C Matt Behren - .338/.410/.545/.955 RF/LF Nick Badgley - .308/.366/.369/.735 RF Justin Behm - .282/.426/.476/.902 CF Pat Minogue - .245/.325/.381/.706 1B/3B Nick Morreale - .229/.310/.286/.596
LF Jordin Hood (2nd Team All-MAC) - .382/.474/.628/1.102
1B Dave Reynolds - .361/.434/.557/.991
SS Alex Jones - .327/.411/.482/.893
3B Troy White - .288/.323/.342/.665
DH/1B Joe Etcheverry - .256/.364/.463/.827
C Brett Frantini - .231/.355/.269/.624 vs. C Sam Kapacinskas - .200/.529/.200/.729 vs. C Kevin Smith - .125/.118/.125/.243
Who has the edge: Frantini & transfer Brian Riegler are the defensive stalwarts, while Kapacinskas & Smith are both better on the offensive end. Expect Frantini and Kapacinskas to rotate early behind the plate.
2B Joe Buonavolanto - .234/.301/.270/.571 vs. 2B/LF Alex Beckmann - .227/.372/.261/.633 vs. 2B/SS Marvin Sanchez - .104/.200/.125/.325 vs. Jayme Wells
Who has the edge: Buonavolanto has the edge on the defensive side, but Beckmann's OBP is much more superior than Buona Beef's. Jayme Wells is a ridiculous athlete who just signed on with the football team and may have a breakout year if he figures out how to hit. He's already the fastest player on the team.
Center Field/Right Field
Transfer Cory Krupp vs. RF Jake Hermsen - .083/.214/.083/.297 vs. 2B/LF Alex Beckmann - .227/.372/.261/.633 vs. Jayme Wells vs. 1B Dave Reynolds - .361/.434/.557/.991
Who has the edge: You can pretty much pencil in Santa Barbara CC transfer Krupp in to the CF position. He had 34 stolen bases and batted .327 last year. At right field, I could see Reynolds moving there from the infield and letting Etch take over full-time duties at 1B. Again, Jayme Wells is a key cog to this whole situation.
Projected batting order:
SS Alex Jones
CF Cory Krupp
LF Jordin Hood
1B Dave Reynolds
DH Joe Etcheverry
3B Troy White
2B Joe Buonavolanto
C Brett Frantini
RF Jake Hermsen