+

Standardizing College Statistics: 2024 Season

An attempt to standardize College Baseball statistics

This is Part 3 of the Standardizing College Statistics series. If you have not read any of this series, I recommend starting with Part 1, an intro to standardizing college stats, then check out Part 2, a look at how to use this in the Transfer Portal era.

 

Standardizing College Statistics: 2024 Season Update

 

Offensive numbers in college baseball are insane. Records are being shattered on a yearly basis, and players are putting up MLB The Show create-a-player level numbers. Charlie Condon is in the middle of one of the best seasons ever, while players like Jac Caglianone, Travis Bazzana, and others are not far behind him. It is easy to look at each of their stats and just assume we are looking at the most talented college players ever. And while they are supremely talented, the reality is the changes in the run-scoring environment create questions about how great they truly are compared to what came before them. Are Condon, Caglianone, and Bazzana really THAT much better than Adley Rutschman and Andrew Vaughn in college? Let’s find out.

 

2024 Season Totals

 

We have discussed in the past how much the numbers have changed since 2017, but what do the numbers look like so far through the 2024 season? Check it out below.

 

Updated Yearly Stats

As the table shows, the changes in the average numbers since 2017-2018 have been substantial. But it seems that we have finally found some steady ground in the 2024 season. The NCAA decision-makers must have finally found the “perfect” lively baseball and run-scoring environment for their liking. The average player in the nation right now is currently hitting .280 with a .381 OBP and .446 slugging percentage. Those are pretty impressive numbers in the mind of most baseball fans, but in college that is just average. Realizing the differences in the “average” player impacts how we evaluate draft prospects and their statistical production.

 

How Good has Charlie Condon REALLY Been?

 

That’s a great question. As of April 30th, Charlie Condon is currently hitting. 461 with a .567 OBP, and a 1.090 SLG. On top of that impressive slash line, he has hit 29 home runs in just 43 games. He has already broken the Georgia single-season home run record and is on pace to break Caglianone’s record of 33 by the end of the 56-game regular season. Cags hit his 33 in 71 games during the 2023 season. Condon has put together a truly historic season. But how historic? Let’s compare his season to some of the best years in the BBCOR era.

 

Condon vs. Other Top Hitters

 

Coming into the 2024 campaign, 2018 Andrew Vaughn put up the best college baseball season in the BBCOR era. He had the best yearly adjusted OPS, and was tied with 2017 Brent Rooker in yearly adjusted Isolated Power. In almost every statistical category, Condon is better. Condon is actually better by a ton. Not only is Condon better than his 2024 peers by a landslide, but he is also significantly statistically better than the best hitters in college baseball over the last couple of years. He is 20% better than the next closest hitter in terms of OPS, on top of being 45% better than the next closest hitter in pure power production. Even in today’s run-scoring environment, Condon is putting up numbers that will go down in history.

One of the things to keep in mind is Condon’s season is not over. Last season when I originally workshopped this idea, Dylan Crews¬†similarly was having one of the best seasons college baseball had ever seen. A cold streak to end the season, plus facing high-level competition in the postseason took him from historic to middle of the pack. On the contrary, Crews’ peak was also not 43 games into the season. Coming off a three-homer weekend against Texas A&M, Condon has shown no signs of slowing down. Statistically speaking, he is truly one of the best college bats to enter the draft in years. Let’s look at the rest of the top of the class.

 

Adjusted Top Draft Hitters

 

Since we already know that Condon is one of the best college hitters in recent memory, let’s look at how the rest of the 2024 draft class compares.

 

Top 2024 Draft Hitters

 

Remember these stats are through April 30th, so there is still time for these things to change. Nonetheless, the results are fascinating. A couple of things specifically stand out to me.

The first is what the stats say about Bazzana. In comparison to the top bats since 2017, he would grade out as having the 2nd best season (by adjusted OPS), behind only Condon. We are actually watching 2 of the best hitters in the BBCOR era come out of college in the same draft. The Guardians and Reds are in an envious position in comparison to the rest of the league. On top of the overall production from Bazzana, his jump in pure power from last year to this year is impressive. He would grade out 4th in Isolated Power since 2017, but that is a major development considering his skill set. He has some of the best bat-to-ball and plate discipline skills in the draft. Combine elite plate awareness with some of the best power in college baseball history. (Insert eye emoji)

The other major part that stands out to me is the fact that out of the top group, Jac Caglianone statistically grades out as the least productive pure power hitter. His .280 adjusted ISO would still grade out above hitters like Wyatt Langford, Spencer Torkelson, and the aforementioned Adley Rutschman. But it is surprising to see him at the bottom of the top of the 2024 draft considering his track record. Caglianone is on pace to surpass his 33 home runs from last season, but his power is really home run or nothing. He currently has 28 extra-base hits with 26 home runs. Is it potentially concerning to assume that with wood bats and a regular baseball those home runs might not get out? Yes, but you would rather have the issue of a hitter who only hits home runs for extra bases than a hitter who can’t hit home runs to begin with.

In contrast to the questions regarding Caglianone’s home run only approach, he has also shown massive improvements. He is significantly better in AVG and OBP, which were both concerns of mine entering the season. He has also cut down on his strikeouts from 58 in 71 games last season to 15 in 43 games this year. Cags is becoming a more well-rounded hitter each and every year, which makes the lack of extra-base hits outside of the home runs seem all that more odd.

 

Conclusion

 

Before accumulating the stats for this piece, I was expecting to see another major jump in power numbers. Watching college baseball each and every weekend, you look at what some of the top players in the country are doing and assume the rest of the nation is following suit. I actually triple-checked my numbers to make sure they were accurate. But the stats are basically identical to the 2023 season. Which completely changes a lot about this draft class for me.

The reality is every time I see video game numbers in college I always think “Yeah, but.” This was the first time I wrapped my head around how impressive this group has been. Condon and Bazzana are arguably the two best college hitters since 2017, statistically. Out of the top eight pure power seasons in comparison to their peers, five would be the hitters at the top of the 2024 draft class. On top of that, they all showcase above-average bat-to-ball and plate discipline skills. When you combine good plate awareness, barrel skills, and plus power, you create a truly special prospect. There is an argument to be made that the 2024 draft has five prospects that possess those skills. The 2024 MLB Draft class might not be the deepest, but I am now fully bought in on it having a special group at the top.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login