Baylor continues to fly under the radar

Big 12 Report: Red River center stage

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Results that matter

Texas Tech 45 Oklahoma State 35

It was the first home win over a ranked team for the Red Raiders since 2013. That's an incredible stretch for a place that in the early 2000's was a hard place to play. Jett Duffey didn't start the year as the starter but injuries led to him taking over and against Oklahoma it was a rough go. He got it going against Oklahoma State to the tune of 424 yards and four touchdowns. This was a huge win for first year Red Raiders head coach Matt Wells.

Baylor 31 Kansas State 12

This was a close one that saw the Bears struggle to get going but eventually finish off Kansas State. It wasn't the prettiest game at all, but it moved the Bears to 5-0 and led to them being ranked yet again. Head coach Matt Rhule got a contract extension before this game and now the Bears have a shot to factor into the Big 12 race. They face a Texas Tech team riding high after a big win. The Bears are in the conversation, until they aren't. Fun stuff for a team that struggled to be relevant for a few years.

Studs of the week

Texas Tech DB Douglas Coleman

Two interceptions but when they happened were key. The Red Raiders were up 13-0 and had just missed a field goal when Coleman came up with his first interception. Momentum was on the Cowboys side but Coleman took it back. His second one ended the Cowboys chances at a comeback in the fourth quarter. He's the nation's leader in interceptions.

Texas Tech LB Jordyn Brooks

19 tackles. 3 sacks. 4 tackles for loss. What a line for the linebacker. My goodness. What a freaking day for Brooks. He was all over the field and a big key in the Red Raiders keeping the Cowboys at bay throughout the contest.

Texas RB Roschon Johnson

What a great performance from the former quarterback turned running back. With injuries devastating the depth at running back the Longhorns have had Johnson playing for a few weeks now. With Keaontay Ingram banged up, he helped the Horns move the ball to the tune of 21 carries for 121 yards in their win over West Virginia.

Must-watch game: 

6 Oklahoma 11 Texas

Red. River. Shootout. NOT rivalry. Come on now. Loved the name but love the game even more. No matter what the records this is always must-watch TV for the rest of the Big 12 conference. For the Sooners, beat Texas and keep rolling and hope you have their number should they show up in the Big 12 Championship game. For Texas, you have no more room for error if you have desires on making the college football playoff. A loss here likely eliminates you from contention for one of the four playoff spots.

Who better ball?

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger

Can Ehlinger make it 3 for 3 in outplaying Heisman Trophy contending Oklahoma quarterbacks? He has done it the past two years no reason to think he can't do it again. He will have to, honestly. The Longhorns will need Super Sam against the Sooners if they want to win this one.

Big 12 Rankings

1. Oklahoma

2. Texas

3. Baylor

4. Iowa State

5. Texas Tech

6. Oklahoma State

7. West Virginia

8. TCU

9. Kansas State

10. Kansas

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TO BE THE MAN, YOU GOTTA BEAT THE MAN!

The answers in the outfield are becoming clearer than the Astros hoped

*Note: Some Advanced Statistics, courtesy of Baseball Savant, do not include Thursday night's game against the Diamondbacks. Others, courtesy of Fangraphs, do include Thursday night's game*

The Corpus Christi Hooks Twitter account confirmed that Yordan Alvarez is alive and able to take swings, meaning the slugger's return to the Astros lineup is getting closer. Alvarez will get a bulk of the DH at-bats. With Springer being the primary center fielder, and Brantley being the primary left fielder, Dusty Baker will have to choose between Josh Reddick and Kyle Tucker for his primary right fielder. Who should he choose?

How do you boil down picking between two players to one question? What is the most important thing to judge a hitter on? The answer

The better player is the player that does the most damage consistently.

Sounds easy, right? But how do you judge that?

  1. Hard Hit %
  2. BB:K
  3. Contact %

Why these three? Well, hitting the ball hard usually leads to damage, so it is good to hit the ball hard. A player that walks and strikes out roughly the same amount is generally pretty consistent, so BB:K ratios closer to 1:1 (this is extremely rare, and a vast majority of MLB hitters are worse than 1:2) are good. Lastly, players that make contact a lot not only can generally do more of the little things like moving runners over, lifting a ball with a runner on third, or executing a hit & run, but also they generally don't swing and miss at their pitch when they get it. Action happens.

Kyle Tucker has a hard hit % of 38.5% so far in 2020. That is 55th in MLB amongst players with at least 25 batted balls (Tucker has 26). For context, Padres star third baseman Manny Machado is ranked 54th with 38.9%, thorn-in-the-Astros-side Kole Calhoun is t-58th at 37.9%, and Padres star shortstop Fernando Tatis leads the big leagues at 66.7% (wow).

So, more than 1/3rd of the time Tucker makes contact, he hits it hard. That's pretty good...But how often does he make contact?

Tucker has a contact % of 75.6%, meaning he makes contact with the baseball three out of every four times he swings the bat. That is 88th amongst qualified hitters. He is 1% worse than the slumping Jose Altuve, tied with that guy Kole Calhoun again, and about 1% better than the also-slumping George Springer. Tucker is far from elite at putting the bat on the ball, but he isn't terrible either.

However, despite hitting baseball's hard one-third of the time and making contact three-thirds of the time, Tucker strikes out entirely too much. His 29.3% K-rate is the 35th worst in baseball, and he doesn't offset the strikeouts with a lot of walks either. Tucker walks just 7.3% of the time, which is the 62nd lowest. Ultimately, Tucker has a BB:K ratio of 0.25, which is 49th in MLB right now.

Lastly, while it isn't part of the criteria above, Tucker doesn't have a very diverse batted ball portfolio. Tucker hits the ball to the pull side 65% of the time, and he's hit it on the ground 50% of the time. Eventually, teams will start placing heavy shifts on him, and those balls that have snuck through holes in the early parts of the year won't anymore.

But, is Josh Reddick any better? While none of Tucker's numbers blow you away, they aren't terrible, and he's a young prospect that needs playing time to develop.

Reddick has a 31.3% hard hit % so far in 2020, about seven percentage points below Tucker. 31.3% places Reddick in 96th place, between players like Marcus Semien and Yuli Gurriel. So, Tucker has Reddick beat here, but it isn't by a landslide.

Reddick has a contact % of 80.5%, which is 50th in MLB right now. He's better than Tucker by 5%, and he's in the top quartile in baseball. Reddick also sprays the ball around when he makes contact, hitting the ball to center field 43.8% of the time, right field 37.5% of the time, and left field 18.8% of the time. His ground ball rate is also 31%, almost 20% lower than Tucker's. That would explain why Reddick and Tucker's Barrel % (hard hit baseballs hit in the most desired exit velocity) are within a percentage point of one another despite Tucker having a seven point hard hit advantage.

Lastly, Reddick doesn't strike out very much. He strikes out 14% of the time, which is the 34th best K% in baseball (funny enough, Gurriel and Brantley are 33rd and 32nd). While Reddick doesn't walk a ton either, he walks more than Tucker, clocking in four percentage points better at 11.6%. That results in a BB:K ratio of 0.83, which is tied with Bryce Harper and Freddie Freeman for the 30th best in MLB.

Throw in the fact that Reddick plays significantly better defense, and it's really a no-brainer who should play. Astros fans might want the sexier and newer model in Tucker, but it isn't time to trade in old reliable just yet. When Yordan Alvarez returns, Josh Reddick is the right answer in right field.

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