UK baseball looks to stay perfect

at+Jim+Patterson+Stadium+on+Wednesday%2C+April+28%2C+2010.+Photo+by+William+Baldon

at Jim Patterson Stadium on Wednesday, April 28, 2010. Photo by William Baldon

The UK baseball team will try to extend its undefeated record to start the season when it takes on Morehead State University Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium.

After a sweep of Buffalo last weekend at home, the Cats are 6-0, a far cry from the 2-4 start they posted in 2011.

“We have to get off to a good start,” head coach Gary Henderson said. “Not only in terms of wins and losses but we have to play with some presence, with some confidence and with some skill.”

Statistically, the Cats are on a better pace than last season.

The offense has shown the firepower that senior catcher Michael Williams hinted at before the season when he “guaranteed” this team would shock people.

Baseball enthusiasts use a few all-encompassing statistics to compare offensive firepower and pitching excellence. The offensive stat, called OPS, combines a player’s on-base percentage with his slugging percentage.

It’s designed to calculate a player’s ability to get on base and to hit for power.

Typically, the very best hitters will have an OPS near 1.000. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers posted an OPS of .994.

Last year’s UK team recorded a season OPS of .836. This year’s team currently is hitting an OPS of .989. Much of that improvement could be contributed to better plate discipline, which Henderson commented on last weekend.

“Hopefully that will become a strength of this club,” Henderson said. “I think we’ve done a really nice job at the plate of letting the game come to us.”

On the other side of the ball, the pitching has also shown improvement. WHIP is a statistic that combines the walks and hits that a pitcher gives up, divided by his innings pitched. It has been frequently used in the last few years to calculate pitcher’s efficiency.

For example, reigning MLB National League Cy Young award winner, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers, recorded a .977.

Last year’s UK team finished the year with a WHIP of 1.55. This year’s team has begun the season with a 1.12.

Better starting pitching and a much-improved bullpen have contributed to the vast improvement.

The Cats have shown a consistent ability to throw strikes and keep the ball in the park.

If that continues along with the increased power numbers, this team could have the potential to finish among the elite in the SEC.

“We’ve got a lot of talent,” Williams said. “We come back with a lot of strengths and we’ve got better depth this year. I am looking forward to seeing where we can go.”