The numbers don’t lie.
Anyone who’s been around the Michigan baseball team — from Michigan coach Rich Maloney to the players and even the Daily baseball beat — has attributed the team’s struggles to lack of offense, poor fielding and allowing the big inning.
But do the numbers tell the same story? Let’s break down the statistics to pinpoint the source of the Wolverines’ woes.
64 — The percentage of balls in play that are converted to outs by the Michigan defense. Known as “defensive efficiency,” Texas and South Carolina led the nation last year at 72.6 percent. With the new bat rules that have led to a bit less offense this season, Louisville is on pace to finish with a 74 to 75 percent efficiency. That means Michigan converts over 10 percentage points fewer outs for every ball in play than Louisville, leading to a couple of extra hits per game.
45 & 15 — Respectively, the number of wild pitches and passed balls committed by the Wolverines. That’s an absurdly high number when you consider that Michigan’s 15 passed balls nearly triples the average of the rest of the Big Ten (5.9), and its 45 wild pitches is almost twice the average for the rest of the conference (22.8). You can attribute this dismal statistic to a young catching corps.
58 — For innings in which Michigan surrendered a run, 58 percent have resulted in multiple runs. Michigan’s offense only tallies multiple runs in 40 percent of scoring innings. On top of that, in scoring innings the opposition scores three or more runs nearly twice as often as the Wolverines (35 percent compared to Michigan’s 19 percent). Why such crooked numbers? The low defensive efficiency and high error rate gives the opposition more outs per inning and often causes Michigan pitchers to lose their composure.
5.19 & 1.67 — The pitching staff’s ERA and WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched), respectively. Both figures are the highest in the Big Ten.
.361 — The batting average for balls in play (BABIP) against the Michigan pitching staff. By assuming that every ball in play has an equal chance of becoming a hit, this statistic shows “real” batting average against. The Big Ten BABIP average is .333, so every ball in play has a .333 chance of becoming a hit. The Big Ten average is .028 lower than Michigan’s BABIP, indicating misfortune for the Wolverines. In other words, Michigan’s opponent’s batting average is higher than it should be, and should decline. But other factors contribute to BABIP, such as poor defense and more hard-hit balls by the opposition, which probably inflate this figure.
.310 — Michigan’s offensive BABIP, over twenty percentage points lower than the Big Ten BABIP of .333. This discrepancy signifies the lineup is unlucky — about one of every 50 balls in play does not fall for a hit when the averages tell us it should. This indicates that the lineup should see a rise by about 20 percentage points in batting average, though Maloney might point out the low BABIP could be due to too many lazy fly balls.
.247 — The Wolverines batting average — good enough for last place in the Big Ten and by far the lowest average in Maloney’s tenure.
.319 & .327 — Respectively, Michigan’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Like batting average, both earn the Wolverines at least a share of last place in the Big Ten. Both the power numbers and the small-ball numbers are lacking.
So let’s do the math: Poor defense and sloppy play amplifies the problem of sub-par pitching, which leads to big innings. A bottom-dwelling offense can’t contend with the production of opposing teams.
When you add it all up, you get 11 — the number of wins Michigan has all season. Compare this to 23 losses, the worst statistic of all. And you don’t need a calculator to tell you that.