Let’s talk a little baseball.
Mississippi State, ranked fifth in the preseason by Baseball America, is expected to make some things happen offensively this year. That begins at the top of the lineup, where options abound. I discussed the topic last week with coach John Cohen and shortstop Adam Frazier.
Frazier was the leadoff man in 56 of MSU’s 64 games last season. The other eight games it was center fielder C.T. Bradford, whose season was cut way short by injury. Those two are likely going to bat 1-2 in the order; as for who’s leadoff, well, who knows.
“I think we both kind of prefer leadoff,” said Frazier, who led MSU last year with a .371 average. “But if we’re both hitting, it doesn’t really matter.”
Cohen has given it some thought and talked with both players about it.
“It really depends on how they’re going,” he said. “Certainly we’ve had the discussion with those guys about, where do you feel more comfortable? We’re really not 100 percent sure. Especially against right-handed pitching, I’d be surprised early on if that’s what we’re not going to go with.”
There are other options, Cohen noted, such as a couple of newcomers, juco transfer Derrick Armstrong and freshman Jacob Robson, who like Bradford and Frazier bats left-handed. Armstrong and Robson are very fast. There’s no telling how Armstrong and Robson – both outfielders – will initially fit into the mix, and it’ll be hard not to have Bradford and Frazier both at the top of the order given their experience and their tools.
“They’re difficult to pitch to, there’s not much swing-and-miss there,” Cohen said. “They’re stolen base threats. It’s a pretty neat thing to see those two guys at the top, because I think they have a chance to set the table for the middle of the order.”
Bradford has had a long road back from the shoulder injury he suffered early last season. Cohen and Frazier both said he’s looking good at the plate now.
“He wasn’t swinging the bat as hard (at first), because he couldn’t; he’d hurt his shoulder,” Frazier said. “But he was hitting the best I’ve seen him hit. Then he got fully healthy and started swinging hard again, and it wasn’t going as good for him. I think he kind of understood, that right there showed him that he doesn’t have to swing as hard as he used to to get a bunch of hits. That mentally for him was a sign for him that will hep him out at bat.”