The expectation was that it was going to be a transition year for the Michigan baseball team. And in the end, that’s exactly what the 2023 season was.
For the first time since 2018, the Wolverines failed to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. And after the struggles Michigan had all year, being on the outside of the bracket looking in is what reflects its tumultuous season.
Whether on the mound or at the plate, the Wolverines never truly found their rhythm. Michigan only had one true ace, junior left-hander Connor O’Halloran, and when he wasn’t on the mound, results were never surefire. Even with O’Halloran in the lineup, the Wolverines’ bats — which ranked 247th in the country in batting average — routinely failed to produce. With subpar pitching and batting, Michigan never had a consistent victory formula, often letting winnable games slip away.
In the end, that’s what caught up to the Wolverines, who finished the campaign with a mediocre 28-28 record before falling to Iowa in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.
But even while the season didn’t end the way Michigan had hoped, there was no lack of positives to take away from it. Freshmen third baseman Mitch Voit and center fielder Jonathan Kim instantly made their impact felt, becoming daily starters for the Wolverines early in their careers. That experience will continue to carry the program for years to come, and it should not be understated.
However, with new faces making names for themselves, veterans will be heading in new directions. Senior second baseman Ted Burton and O’Halloran are expected to have a significant chance of being selected in this June’s MLB Draft, while staples such as graduate shortstop Cody Jefferis and graduate first baseman Jack Van Remortel are out of collegiate eligibility.
Heading into an offseason with a tumultuous year behind it and a full offseason to work with, Michigan and coach Tracy Smith will look for a return to form — a tournament berth — in 2024.