With conference play set to begin on Friday, here's a pre-conference edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
- 12-11 Record - Entering conference play a season ago, the Hoosiers record sat at 7-14, so this year's record heading into Friday's Big Ten opener is a significant improvement.
- 11-1 Record When Leading after 8 Innings - They were 11-0 in such situations before Tuesday's ninth inning loss to Louisville, but nevertheless, the Hoosiers have taken care of business with the lead in the final frame, and that is definitely a good thing.
- Team Power - As a team, IU leads the Big Ten in doubles, home runs and slugging percentage. In particular, the long ball has been kind to the Hoosiers as they have nearly twice as many home runs as any other team in the conference. While there is no question that the team's power bodes well for IU's outlook moving forward, the Hoosiers need to be careful not to become too reliant on the long ball.
- Jerrud Sabourin, Alex Dickerson and Drew Leininger - Hard to do a The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly without mentioning these three guys under The Good. Much has been said about them on this blog, and anyone who follows IU Baseball at all knows how crucial they've been to IU's success thus far. They each rank among the conference leaders in several major statistical categories, and there is no doubt that IU's outlook the rest of the way depends upon each of them continuing to play at a high level.
- Defensive Miscues - The Hoosiers have committed 37 errors in 22 games (to their opponents' 31), which ranks as the third most in the conference. Given IU's young, inexperienced and inconsistent pitching, the team can ill afford to make mistakes in the field. IU's play defensively has improved of late, but there is definitely still room for improvement here.
- Plate Discipline - Offensively, IU ranks among the top three teams in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 168 on the year, and they rank ninth in the conference in walks with just 73 in 2010. These numbers do not make for a good ratio. The team's plate discipline must improve for the team to be successful come Big Ten play.
- Outscored 48-28 in First 2 Innings - When you dig yourself into a hole early, it is oftentimes difficult to overcome. The Hoosiers certainly aren't doing themselves any favors by allowing their opponents to jump out to early leads, and given that IU is just 2-8 on the year when the opposition scores first, I think it would be safe to say that this discrepancy needs to begin moving back in IU's favor sooner rather than later.
- Pitching - While there have definitely been some bright spots (see Leininger, Squires, Stadler), the pitching has mostly not been good for the Hoosiers to this point in the season. IU's team ERA (6.08) ranks in the bottom third of the conference, and only Northwestern has allowed more hits and runs than the Hoosier hurlers. IU's pitchers rank second-to-last (ahead of only Penn State) in the Big Ten with 103 walks, and they lead the conference in wild pitches, balks, hit batters and home runs allowed. All those statistics combined certainly don't bode well for the staff with the level of competition set to improve considerably come Friday. Needless to say, it is imperative that these numbers improve ASAP, and the effort Tuesday against Louisville was a step in the right direction. Hopefully guys like Blake Monar, Matt Ernest and Matt Carr will be back on the bump to help the cause soon.