The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

SEC Baseball Power Rankings: College meets the pros

Ranking all 14 SEC baseball teams — and finding their MLB equivalents — as the calendar flips to April.
Josh Rehders
Jonathan Vastine swings at a pitch during Vanderbilt’s game against Belmont, as photographed on March 19, 2024. (Hustler Multimedia/Josh Rehders)

Now three weeks into conference play, we’re starting to learn much more about how this year’s SEC will shake out in college baseball. The No. 1 Arkansas Razorbacks and No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies continue to look dominant at the top, but a host of schools behind them, including No. 7 Vanderbilt Commodores, showed their strength this weekend. The LSU Tigers continued their championship hangover while Auburn and Missouri are still looking for their first series wins. Let’s rank all the teams and, fresh off the heels of Opening Day, give them an equivalent in The Show. 

1. Arkansas (23-3, 8-1)

MLB Comparison: Los Angeles Dodgers

The best team with the best roster in college baseball kept it rolling this weekend with a sweep of then-No. 8 LSU. While the Tigers have a ton of questions to answer themselves, the No. 1 Razorbacks have won all three of their conference series and have dropped just three games this season. With an SEC-leading team ERA of 2.67, Hagen Smith and a lineup full of stars, it’s hard not to compare this team to the championship-favorite Dodgers. It’s still early in the season, but taking the top spot off of the Razorbacks may prove to be a very tall task for any team in the conference this year.

2. Texas A&M (25-3, 6-3)

MLB Comparison: Baltimore Orioles

Similar to the O’s, the Aggies have been surging in recent years and look poised to make a deep run in this year’s playoffs. With one of the top pitching staffs in the conference and a lineup featuring Braden Montgomery — who’s slashing .381/.515/.933 and has 16 home runs — it’s hard to find a weakness in this squad. Fresh off of a home sweep over then-No. 21 Auburn, it seems that the rest of the SEC is having a tough time finding a weakness as well.

3. Tennessee (24-5, 5-4)

MLB Comparison: Atlanta Braves

Though they might not be the current championship favorites, it’s absurd how good the offenses are for both the Volunteers and the Braves heading into this season. Now ranked as the No. 4 team in the country, Tennessee leads the conference in team batting average (.332) while also scoring the most runs (297) and accruing the most hits (321). While the pitching can be spotty (and they don’t have a Spencer Strider of their own), the Volunteers will always be able to stay in games as a result of their offensive firepower. The Vols should be heavy favorites when they host Ole Miss for a series this weekend.

4. Florida (16-11, 6-3)

MLB Comparison: Philadelphia Phillies

As the only SEC team to take down the Texas A&M Aggies in a series thus far, this Gators team certainly has a wide range of outcomes. With the worst team ERA in the conference by a wide margin (5.97), Florida’s pitching makes it hard to trust, but the Gators have still found a way to string together three series wins to start their conference schedule. Similarly to the Phillies, this team absolutely has holes that can make it an easy out when playoff time arrives. But they’ve also shown a propensity to pull it together at the right times, which has been more than enough for the Phillies in recent postseason runs.

5. Vanderbilt (23-6, 6-3)

MLB Comparison: Seattle Mariners

Though it came against the lowly Missouri Tigers (more on them, soon), Vanderbilt’s sweep this weekend was a good reminder of why the Commodores had high expectations coming into this season. The starting pitching trio of Greysen Carter, Bryce Cunningham and Carter Holton combined for over 22 innings pitched this weekend and did not allow a single earned run. Like the Mariners, the Commodores are a well-built team with a very good pitching staff. After putting up just 10 runs across the three games, though, there’s still more to be desired with Vanderbilt’s hitting in conference play this year. This weekend’s trip to Baton Rouge should tell us a lot about where the Commodores stand in the conference.

6. Alabama (21-7, 4-5)

MLB Comparison: New York Yankees

While the expectations for the Crimson Tide may not be as high as for their counterparts, the strength of their brand combined with their early success draws the comparison. Alabama has showcased quite the variety of outcomes thus far, with the highs of series wins over South Carolina and Tennessee being traded off with the lows of a sweep at lowly Georgia. Gage Miller has been on fire to start the season, slashing .449/.530/.869 with the second-most hits in the conference (48), and his excellence will need to remain constant if Alabama is to steady the ship moving forward.

7. Kentucky (24-5, 8-1)

MLB Comparison: Arizona Diamondbacks

Entering this year, Kentucky was expected to be a mid-tier SEC squad. Instead, they have shattered all reasonable expectations and are currently No. 12 in the country. The Wildcats play a tantalizing brand of small-ball, hitting the fewest home runs in the SEC (29) but leading the league in steals (68), sac bunts (20), and the second-fewest strikeouts (196). The Diamondbacks showed last year that this type of baseball can result in a team quickly becoming “America’s team”. Oh, and in case you forgot, the Diamondbacks made the World Series and took down the NL juggernauts on their way.

8. Mississippi State (19-10, 4-5)

MLB Comparison: Toronto Blue Jays

While very talented, the Bulldogs have had a tough time closing games out this season — the most recent instance being their last weekend series loss against Florida. Mississippi State does not exactly have a calling card, ranking just about average in the conference in batting average (.294, sixth in SEC) and ERA (4.17, seventh in SEC). However, there are a lot of enticing players on its roster, including Dakota Jordan, who is currently batting .393 and has already hit 14 home runs. The Bulldogs have a lot of the needed pieces, but if they cannot find consistency, they might be going backwards from their 2021 peak, similarly to the Toronto Blue Jays.

9. South Carolina (21-7, 5-4)

MLB Comparison: Boston Red Sox

In the 2010s, South Carolina and the Red Sox were the premier team at their respective level, both winning multiple titles. After experiencing a brief lull at the outset of the 2020s, these franchises are on the rise again. South Carolina is mediocre in most categories but boasts the fifth-most runs scored (239) and sixth-least runs allowed (4.01) in the conference. This balanced formula clearly has upside, with their convincing sweep of Vanderbilt as the evidence. Ethan Perry has taken on the Rafael Devers role as a powerful RBI machine, while Eli Jones embodies Brayan Bello with his low strikeout rate but stellar results. The Gamecocks might not be a true contender, but no one wants to face this team in May.

10. LSU (20-10, 2-7)

MLB Comparison: San Diego Padres

In case you somehow haven’t heard by now, LSU has been REALLY bad this season. This comes after an offseason where they lost a ridiculous amount of talent and returned less than half of their starters. However, despite their (deserved) lowly ranking, does anyone actually look forward to playing these guys? Tommy White is a superstar, Luke Holman has been the second best pitcher in the SEC and they were ranked No. 9 in the country less than a week ago. Similar to the Padres and their star-studded trio of Fernando Tatis, Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts, LSU is still a sleeping giant despite their offseason losses. The Tigers’ series against Vanderbilt this weekend is must-watch TV.

11. Georgia (22-6, 4-5)

MLB Comparison: Los Angeles Angels

Charlie Condon is having a season for the ages with his slash line of .505/.619/1.184. Those numbers all lead the country and set him on pace for one of the greatest seasons ever. And yet, his Bulldogs are unranked, primarily due to an unsightly 5.50 ERA. This story is far too similar to Mike Trout’s entire career, as he has put up otherworldly stat lines and only seen his Angels make the playoffs once. Unless Georgia magically finds a solution to their pitching woes, it’s far too likely that Condon will suffer the same fate. 

12. Ole Miss (18-11, 3-6)

MLB Comparison: Washington Nationals

It’s hard to believe now, but Ole Miss and the Washington Nationals recently won championships. Those glorious seasons had the perfect storm of talent and belief, and both ball clubs have struggled to recapture that magic. Among SEC teams, the Rebels are currently ranked ninth in runs scored (215) and 13th in ERA (5.62). They have some objectively good hitters in Ethan Lege, Jackson Ross and Andrew Fischer but are severely lacking in depth and everything related to pitching. This is eerily similar to the Nationals, but at least the Washington outfit has a bright future with young talent such as CJ Abrams, Dylan Crews and James Wood. For the Rebels, there is no such fallback.

13. Auburn (16-11, 1-8)

MLB Comparison: Cleveland Guardians

In non conference play, Auburn went 15-3 and was ranked in the top 20 nationally, albeit against a weak schedule. They then began playing SEC competition, and it, uh, hasn’t gone so well. This is eerily similar to the Cleveland Guardians, who have made it an annual tradition to feast on the rebuilding teams in their division (Tigers, Royals and White Sox) but are unable to compete with the big boys in the playoffs. The Tigers and Royals are finally emerging from their rebuilds, meaning that this season could get ugly for the Guardians. Similarly, if Auburn doesn’t find answers soon, the month of April could be a rough one for Tiger faithful.

14. Missouri (10-18, 1-8)

MLB Comparison: Oakland Athletics

If you are a Mizzou or A’s fan, I’m sorry. Your team will get better soon (soon is an abstract concept). In the meantime, let’s play a game of “What’s more embarrassing?” Missouri is last in the SEC in runs scored, and the gap between the Tigers and 13th-placed Arkansas is the same as the gap between Arkansas and sixth-placed Kentucky. Ouch. However, in the last week, the A’s were outdrawn by their AAA team, became the first-ever professional sports franchise to disable social media comments and sent one of their few exciting players down to AAA for no logical reason. As bad as Mizzou has been, I think I might have to give the A’s the edge here.

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About the Contributors
Anish Mago
Anish Mago, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Anish Mago ('24) is from West Windsor, N.J., and is studying economics and political science in the College of Arts and Science. He previously served as a staff writer for the Sports section. When not writing for The Hustler, Anish enjoys playing basketball and rooting for all Philly sports. He can be reached at .
Adam Burns
Adam Burns, Staff Writer
Adam Burns (‘27) is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and studies human and organizational development, business and data science in Peabody College. When not writing for The Hustler, you can find him playing sports, spending time outdoors or exploring new places. He is also an extremely passionate Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Diamondbacks fan. You can reach him at [email protected].
Josh Rehders
Josh Rehders, Former Photography Director
Josh Rehders ('24) is from Houston and is studying computer science in the School of Engineering. When he is not shooting for The Hustler, Vanderbilt Athletics or freelancing, he enjoys finding new music and good food. He can be reached at [email protected].
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