Photo by Sarah Sanchez
There is a lot of room for improvement this year with the Wolverines coming off of a season that only saw 18 wins. Two key areas the team will be looking to improve will be in the fielding and pitching departments.
In 2017, the Wolverines had a fielding percentage of .963, which ranked No. 8 in the WAC. This is a significant downfall after the 2016 season where they posted a .971 fielding percentage, tying them for second place. Now, the numbers might not seem to be that far apart from year to year, but when it comes to fielding percentage, those numbers are a much larger gap than portrayed. If they can close that gap and make a few more key plays to up their fielding percentage, then that should help them substantially.
Another key defensive stat to look at is double plays turned. In 2016, the Wolverines turned an amazing 61 double plays that had them ranked eighth in the entire country. In 2017, they only managed 44 double plays. Double plays play a key role when it comes to the momentum of the game. If a pitcher is able to rely on the guys behind him to get the job done while he does his job, that puts confidence in everyone on the team.
For pitching, the Wolverines have a lot of things they need to improve to make the 2018 season a lot better for them. The team ranked last in team ERA last year with a 7.16 earned run average, which is a statistic that no offense can succeed with. If the Wolverine offense is going in to every game thinking that they have to score 7 or more runs per game, then that will be a huge detriment to the team and their success.
All of this comes full circle when you put all of these factors together. Better fielding percentage means more double plays; more double plays means less runs scored against the Wolverines; less runs against the Wolverines means that the offense can take some pressure off of their shoulders and play relaxed throughout the game.
The Wolverines will have to implement these changes right out of the gate as they take on USC, a PAC-12 powerhouse, Feb. 16.