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Vanderbilt Baseball End of Regular Season Mail Bag: Answers to Your Questions

Letters... we get letters... we get stacks and stacks of letters...

China Post Issues Special Stamps To Mark Year Of The Rabbit Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images

Question from RocketCityVandy:

Assuming that the SEC tournament doesn’t factor much into our national tournament standings, what are we looking at at the moment? We’ve suffered down the stretch, but taking two of three from #2 in the nation can’t hurt.

Yeah, I don’t think the SEC Tournament will really factor into anything Vanderbilt related at this point (you know, unless one of the 10, 11, or 12 seeds wins the whole thing and steals a bid). If you’re nervous about someone jumping us for a National Seed host, root against Kentucky (very high RPI). If they win the whole thing, then maybe they bump us. They shouldn’t, though, as not only did we sweep them in April, but we had 3 more SEC wins than they did.

Yeah, all the projections I’m seeing now have us as the #6-8 overall team. It doesn’t mean a National Seed is guaranteed, but it is relatively likely. They tend to have all the hosting stuff figured out before conference tourneys end, so I wouldn’t put all that much stock in these games w/r/t getting a top 8 overall seed in the tourney.

I certainly don’t think we’re playing like one of the top 8 teams in the nation right now, especially since Holton and Owen went down, but our resume is pretty damned good. The people that track things like this are pretty confident we’ll be a National Seed. I don’t know.

Question from SuicideDores:

So, reading through the coach-speak, it would appear Hunter Owen is likely going to be healthy enough to pitch in the SEC-T. Do you pitch him this week or do you just rest him so that he’s hopefully 100% for the regional? Any concerns with a four-week gap between starts if you do rest him until regional play? 60-pitch max if he gets the start this week?

If I pitch Hunter Owen, yeah, it’s as a 60 pitch max 3 inning opener. If we’re not going to have Holton in the postseason—and it’s very much looking like that will be the case—we will need a healthy Owen and Futrell. Can’t rely on 8 run 8th innings or multiple Arky RBI balks in every postseason game, now can we?

To reiterate, I would want to get Owen some work, but like 3 innings. Knock off the rust and build confidence... but don’t push him.

Our #1 priority this week should be pitcher arm health. Our #2 priority should be pitcher arm health. Our #3 priority should be...

...yeah, just don’t talk about Fight Club.

Questions from PeabodybutnotHOG & Johnny ‘10:


He had 6 homers in 30-something at-bats in 2021, essentially didn’t play last year, and is suddenly finding himself in the starting lineup at the end of the season (and showing why he belongs there).

Always struck me as odd that he wouldn’t have transferred with the little playing time he got at Vandy... what took so long to get him out there this season?

Part II — chances he returns next season (I believe he still has a year of eligibility left?)


Has LaNeve or McKenzie earned the start this week or beyond? If so, how do we justify sitting little Maldo, who’s been pur second best bat all season?

Any word on if Holton or Dutch may he around for a regional?

Who’s wife did Jack Anderson sleep with to not get any innings in a weekend where we needed everyone?

LaNeve had a monstrous final series of the year against Arky. In Game Two, he went 1-4, but that one was a monster oppo 3 run bomb which gave us a 2 run lead (and effectively won the game). In Game Three, he was 2-4 with a HR and 3 RBI. In short, he recorded half of his season’s hits (6), 2/3 of his season’s RBI (9), and all of his season’s HR (2) in those two games. Of course, these were also 2/5 of his season’s ABs. LaNeve has historically been a streaky hitter, but perhaps more important is that we just recently learned his shoulder injury was worse than previously reported, and he’s just now getting back to feeling like his ‘21 self. Yeah, unless there’s a dominant LHP on the mound, I would expect LaNeve to DH or pinch hit a good deal in postseason play.

As for LaNeve returning, he will have eligibility left, and I have heard some graduating seniors with eligibility remaining have applied to VU grad school programs. No idea if he’s one of them, but it’s certainly a possibility (perhaps made even more of a possibility with Ogre out of the lineup next year). No more inside information on that.

In those same two games, McKenzie was 2-3 with a HR and an RBI in Game Two, and 2-3 with a 2B in Game Three.

In short, all that lineup certainty we had in the first half of SEC play? Well, that’s gone. We’re back to the beginning of the season uncertainty with the lineup, so I’m not sure I’d expect anything out of the LF, DH, and C positions than playing the hot hand.

Both Lil Maldo (.291/378/.507) and Young Hickory (.290/367/.449) have been great for the bulk of this season. Regardless, seeing as the only positions that are still up for grabs are LF, DH, and C, that kind of limits where any of them could get in. Could Young Hickory play a passable 2B if Austin is slumping? I mean... I think so, but that’s a hell of a risk considering he hasn’t gotten even one rep at 2B this season. Lil Maldo has also been DH or nothing. Yeah, Corbs is going to go with the hot hand, and none of us know who he thinks that will be on any given day.

I do not expect either of Holton or The Duke to pitch in the postseason. I know nothing of Prancetown Jack’s Dancetown Jack card.

Question from Dinard’oh:

What are your predictions for the SECT? Feel free to include irrational hate in your answer.

*Editor’s note: Dinard’oh also allowed rational hate here, or I would not have been able to include the Chuggers.

I predict the hottest team in the conference will win the damned thing. Right now, that’s the Jorts. Oh, and The South Cackalacky Game Penises will win the early morning Tuesday game 9-0 over Ugga. I’ve just got a feeling about that one.

Other than that, I honestly have no idea. The damned Chuggers likely have an outside shot, as they have more starting pitching depth than both. However, aTm likely needs to beat the Chuggers to go to the postseason, so I could also see those mullet-lugers getting knocked out on Day One, as well.

Traditionally, a #1-4 seed wins the SEC tourney. With our starting pitching injuries, I just don’t see us winning this year.

I’ll bet on The Jorts to win, Arky to place, and LSU to show, with the long-shot bet going to The Chuggers (but I would not place that actual bet, as fuck them).

Question from Athanatos504:

What’s your proposed lineup and rotation for the regionals?

Oh man, just like in my pre-season previews, I have to cede this one to William Carlos Williams, as...

so much depends


a starting


glazed with arm


beside the white


Beyond that, our lineup is completely in flux yet again. As such, take this all with many grains of salt.

Rotation: Futrell, Owen, and Ginther (with a Reilly Piggyback after 3-4 innings).

Lineup (against RHP):


Diaz 3B

Ogre RF

Noland 1B

Austin 2B

LaNeve DH

Polk LF

Espy C

Vastine SS

Lineup (against LHP):


Diaz 3B

Ogre RF

Lil Maldo DH

Austin 2B

Noland 1B

Polk LF

Espy C

Vastine SS

*That’s what I would do, at least. With our current questionable starting pitching situation, I can’t have teams running all over us, so The Bulge must ride the bench.

Questions from NovaDore & HMSDore:

Which is more important for the Regionals and beyond - an offense that powers its way through the SEC tournament or pitching that has a bad outing and gives the pitching staff needed rest?


a somewhat related question is, do the experience and “at-bats” accumulated through an extended tournament run outweigh the burden it puts on the pitching?

See my answer to question #2:

Our #1 priority this week should be pitcher arm health. Our #2 priority should be pitcher arm health. Our #3 priority should be...

...yeah, just don’t talk about Fight Club.

We won’t do jack shit in the postseason without a healthy pitching staff. We’re already likely to be down Holton and Dutkanych. It really is that simple.

Question from VU1970:

Where do Vandy fans rank among SEC schools on the “quickest to go negative” scale the moment adversity hits, aka the “o god we’re doomed” scale? “When your gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you thru.”

As I’ve said before, I don’t really have a handle on the other fanbases, except for them being a bunch of Cletuses, some of whom drink with their butts. I will say this: with baseball, only the idiots ask for Corbs’ head when things go poorly. All the other baseball blue bloods in the conference (and even The Chuggers) not only demand coaching fires quickly, but get their wish. I remember back when I was in Baton Rouge that every year the coach didn’t win the National Championship, they all wanted him fired. Like all of them, including the big money boosters. By the end of his run there, Paul Mainieri looked like a Vietnam Vet stricken with chronic PTSD, and he won a CWS title in ‘09, and made it to Omaha 5 times.

I’d say we’re pretty quick to go negative with football, which is just the proper usage of inductive reasoning. We’re also quick to go negative in post-Kevin Stallings shooty hoops (also proper inductive reasoning), though even quicker to go “give him a million year extension” when they pull off a late season run and get an NIT bid. No, were not the Negative Nancies of the SEC. Not even close.

As for myself, you might call it going negative in the back third of the conference schedule, but again, it’s just proper inductive reasoning. When both Holton and Owen had to miss starts (and in Holton’s case, looked as if he struggled through arm fatigue/injury and then will likely be shut down for the year), combined with our freshmen hitters running into the freshman wall, combined with many veteran hitters collectively slumping, AND our infield defense (except for Diaz) turning into absolute shit... well, it’s not Corbs’ fault, but would you prefer I lie about what I see?

Pre-pitcher injuries, we were over-performing our talent, and had a legitimate shot to make a run to and through Omaha. Post-pitcher injuries, we’ve regressed back to what I thought this team would be on paper in the pre-season (a team that would likely be a Regional Host, but no better). Is that going negative, or being honest? Your milage may vary, but that’s just honesty.

As such, what you might think was going negative was just grieving what might have been. Oh, and at no point did I, nor would I ever, push for a coaching change.

*You know, except for maybe the hitting coach.

Question from Vandy-Mike:

Will any of our baseball players enter the portal before the SEC tournament?

I heard a rumor that one of the Whistlers may be entering the portal.

This question has entered the portal and subsequently been blocked by Stack.

Oh course, to answer it directly, I will cede my time to Lawrence from Office Space: