Is Arkansas Baseball hitting well enough to win the CWS?

Feb 24, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma plays Arkansas during the Kubota College Baseball Series
Feb 24, 2024; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma plays Arkansas during the Kubota College Baseball Series / Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 baseball regular season is quickly coming to an end. There's two weekends left to prepare for conference tournaments, and shortly after, the NCAA tournament

The Razorbacks have been elite from the mound this season. Hagan Smith has led the way with an ERA of 1.36 and 17 strikeouts per nine innings. The Hogs lean on their pitching staff, winning most of its games from the mound. The hogs have only allowed their opponents to bat .207 on average.

At the beginning of this season, fielding wasn’t perfect. The chemistry needed sorting out, but now, it's grown into one of the most solid parts of the Arkansas baseball team. In fact, fielding almost single-handedly won the Razorbacks' series against Florida.

However, when you start to talk about Arkansas‘s offense, that's where the Hogs need to focus. The Diamond Hogs had some great offensive games, scoring double-digit runs. But on average, the Hogs are batting .271. 

To be fair, that’s not extraordinarily low, considering everything else the Razorbacks bring to the table. Sure, every other team in the top 10 of the RPI is hitting at least .293 and ranks top-78 in the country, but none of them have the pitching staff that Arkansas does.

Unfortunately, batting average doesn't matter if you can’t drive in runs. The Diamond Hogs have struggled all season batting with runners in scoring position. But the question is, can Arkansas win the College World Series with the production at the plate as it is right now?

Short answer: No

Now, before anyone types in the comments, “Why are you worrying about a few losses? The team is 40-9. This is baseball, losses happen,” let's answer this question: what does "This is baseball" mean exactly? 

It means the sport is difficult to play. It means there are many games, and averages — for the most part — are what matters. Well, let’s look at one particular stat of this Arkansas offense.

The Razorbacks are batting .276 with RISP this season, but against SEC competition, they’re batting a disgusting .195. Most teams' RISP is bat slightly higher than their overall average, but Arkansas's is nearly 100 points less.

In the last ten years, there hasn't been a single CWS champion with a RISP average below .260, and almost all batted over .300. Most averaged better a RISP than their season average. But the teams with lower RISP all had season averages above .300.

The good news is Arkansas is not far away from bumping its RISP way up. One would think Arkansas's SEC batting average would be just as low as its RISP. Instead, it sits only .031 below at .240.

The Razorbacks only need to hit slightly better to make a difference. With the way that Arkansas is playing from the mound, the offense doesn’t have to do much. It just needs to be efficient. Arkansas hitters have proved this season that they can be clutch when the team needs it.