Normally I don't write about college baseball, but in light of the recent selections for the 2023 NCAA Baseball Tournament and the local controversy surrounding the situation, I feel it's only right. Selections were made yesterday, with a certain local squad not making the cut that has Wildcat faithful up in arms. If you didn't read the title or understand the context clues, it's Kansas State. Kansas State missed out on the 2o23 NCAA Baseball Tournament.
You may be asking why that is or what my opinions are of it all, given my alma mater allegiances (and potential biases, I'm allowed to this is a blog not a news source) Well, let's first look at the facts that back up why Kansas State should have made it. The Wildcats went 35-24 in the regular season (13-11 in the Big 12) and had successes in the postseason with wins over Texas and Kansas, unfortunately dropping two games though to eventual champion TCU. Some of their signature regular season wins came against tourney bound (much to the dismay of Kansas State faithful) Oklahoma 3 times, sweeping them, West Virginia once, Texas once, a sweep of the Jayhawks, and finally stealing one each against Oklahoma State and TCU. A solid record with successes in postseason and some key wins, should be enough to get you into the tournament, right? Well let's look at the cons, mainly the RPI of Wildcat baseball.
Look, to be frank I don't love RPI as a statistic either, it's incredibly flawed and good teams can sometimes drop a couple to bad ones while mediocre teams can have just a few RPI boosting wins and be looked at with more favor than the former. It's sports, it happens, however RPI is a key statistic selection committees across all sports look at and weigh criminally uneven. Like I said, I don't like it and it needs to change, but for now this is the way things are. Kansas State had a few bad losses that kept them out of the tournament, boasting a 55 overall RPI with a non-conference RPI of just 93. Their major losses came against Lamar, Sam Houston, Omaha, St. Thomas, and UC Irvine (Who is actually solid and just missed out on the tourney but still in a weak conference), all just one time. The non-conference RPI is what killed them I think, having the 128th ranked strength of schedule didn't help their case I'm sure though.
Do I believe RPI should carry this much weight in this situation? Absolutely not, and remember I'm a guy that thought the Jayhawks got royally screwed because of the LACK of taking RPI into account by the committee. I think it's dumb especially when you have a team that performed so well in their respective conference and a team that had a lot of key wins over tourney bound teams, such as what Kansas State had. Is it important? Yes, but it depends on the situation. I think key wins and record matter more, especially in a sport with as many games as baseball, and that's what Kansas State had. It's incredibly disappointing for the seniors of this squad that thought they had something going and could continue their college baseball careers, only to have it wiped away because they picked up a few fluke losses along the way. I feel for the Wildcats here, it sucks being that close and having formalities keep you away from the postseason. In the end though, that's just sometimes the way the cookie crumbles, and until more people speak out on the injustices RPI can bring about such as Wildcat baseball manager Pete Hughes, it'll continue to be a stat that carries too much or too little weight depending on just what the committee feels like. Have set standards, or don't be the ones making the decisions. End of discussion.
Burn Notice: 10/10 When a KU alum defends the Wildcats you know something is wrong.