RANKING THE STATE

Texas Division I Football Rankings: North Texas falls as Oklahoma comes to Baylor

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Born with a comic book in one hand and a remote control in the other, Cory DLG is the talent of Conroe's very own Nerd Thug Radio and Sports. Check out the podcast replay of the FM radio show at www.nerdthugradio.com!

12. RICE

Rice University was off this weekend and that's about where the good news train ends. This week they go to Middle Tennessee and play the Blue Raiders, who are heavy favorites to continue Rice's losing streak. It's tough to keep kicking this program while it's down and obviously it is very down but there seems to be no opportunity for the beatings to cease. The other issue for Rice Football, it's a newer regime and it isn't going well, if they decide to pull the plug then they'll be consistently making changes and keep losing and starting over; patience is hard through the losing but there seems to be no other way.

11. UTEP

The losing continues for the Miners and somehow they have fallen behind Rice in the Conference USA - West division to the very bottom of the standings. Rice and UTEP play at the end of the year and therefore there will be a winner decided in the conference between these two bottom feeders but it's tough to say who matters less at this point.

10. NORTH TEXAS

Man was it a bad weekend for The Mean Green or what? Losing huge to Louisiana Tech is not the way to go after winning big the week before against UTEP. The massive loss kills any momentum they built the week before and they go from a team trending up and strongly to being inconsistent and questioned from all sides. The team is off this week which probably isn't as great of a thing as they thought it was a week ago, but there it is, a bye week.

9. UTSA

On top of winning against Old Dominion, The Roadrunners also moved up a spot because North Texas lost. With three wins over the last five weeks, they're playing some of the best football in this half of the list but that isn't saying much. This week the Roadrunners are facing University of Southern Mississippi who is near the top of the Conference USA West division and this game gives them the chance to gain some serious ground in the standings. This season isn't over and there's still some good football to play.

8. TEXAS STATE

In the battle of big cats that I get confused about The Texas State Bobcats beat the South Alabama Jaguars and are now hosting Troy. With only three wins so far this season, they need some help but they aren't done yet as their Sun Belt Division hasn't run away from them. The Troy game has some implications for a program that can't figure out if its coming or going.

7. TEXAS TECH

Able to finally put the brakes on a three game losing streak, The Red Raiders beat West Virginia. It was an important game and they needed the win far beyond the standard "every game is important" as this win sets up Texas Tech, who last week I wrote needed four in a row and got win one last weekend. If they keep winning they finish bowl eligible. It's an exciting opportunity for The Red Raiders to save a season that two weeks ago looked pretty bad.

6.  HOUSTON

Houston was off this week and I had an interesting conversation with a buddy of mine who is a wealth of college football information. He's confident in the new regime at Houston and believes that in a few short seasons the Cougars will be a relevant program nationally. I told him how much I hated all of their moves and decisions and he wisely pointed out, that it's a new coach and most of this doesn't matter, this isn't really his program yet and there is nothing but time. I was impressed by his arguments and I suppose we'll just have to wait and see if my buddy is right or not as Memphis comes to town.

5. TCU

Well for a second they had even me believing they could pull it off. After the surprise upset against Texas a few weeks back and now facing Baylor and forcing Baylor to need a last second field goal to force overtime and then pushing it a few overtimes but staying in it none the less, TCU had me believing. If only they could have turned any of those first half field goals into touchdowns then this may be a different story for the Horned Frogs but for now the story stays the same. There aren't many wins left on TCU's schedule but the role of under dog seems to suit them just fine. This week they travel to Texas Tech in what should be a fun game.

4. TEXAS A&M

The Aggies enjoyed some much needed downtime but now they host The Gamecocks and they need all the wins they can get as the in what has been a rough second season foJimbo Fisher. WIn and win and win some more is the only real option for The Aggies who still have Georgia and LSU on their schedule, so they need this win.

3. TEXAS

Honestly, they won and they should have but it almost doesn't matter because you just never know with this team. With the Longhorns traveling to Iowa State and Baylor still ahead on the schedule, The Longhorns can still finish strong and save some face for this season but at this point it's hard not to look at this season as anything other than disappointing for The Longhorns.

2. SMU

After a close loss the week before, The Mustangs did exactly what you expect a good team to do coming from a loss, they won 59-51 against East Carolina. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't what you're looking for if you're trying to make a case nationally that you are worthy of ranking and attention but they won the game they had scheduled and that's the first step towards success. SMU is off this week and will get to sit back and look at their season thus far with great pride and hope they can finish as strong as they started.

1. BAYLOR

Well that wasn't supposed to be that hard. A few weeks ago I was writing TCU off with several big games left on their schedule and not having won any games of merit. Then they turn around and upset Texas and suddenly you start thinking they're on to something but Baylor comes along and you have to expect that TCU is going to give it their best shot and remarkably Baylor survived. They didn't look great, which is starting to become a theme for this program as they looked awful in the first half against Oklahoma State and have struggled to put together four quarters of good football, but they are unbeaten and they are ranked and they have a shot to keep winning and shocking the world as this week they face Oklahoma. There isn't a lot of meat on Baylor's schedule so this game and Texas will go a long way to deciding how the voters and ranking algorithms feel about this program.

Feel free to check out my brand new comic book Another Day at the Office or buy a shirt from Side Hustle Ts where some proceeds help people struggling with cancer or listen to Nerd Thug Radio. Thoughts, complaints, events and comments can be sent to corydlg@gmail.com.

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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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