It's easy to say that Mizzou's offense is clicking after the team racked up 28 runs against Arkansas-Pine Bluff March 24, the third-most runs any Mizzou baseball team has scored in a game since 2000.
But a look at the team's offensive numbers reveals a success that last year's more veteran team couldn't find heading into Big 12 play.
Using Tom Tango's wOBA statistic—which is currently the best stat for measuring batter performance—Mizzou has seven players who are above the league's average of .380 heading into conference play. They are:
7. Aaron Senne: .506
18. Mike Liberto: .464
21. Brett Nicholas: .451
29. Eric Garcia: .436
50. Russell LaFleur: .394
55. Blake Brown: .389
56. Jonah Schmidt: .388
The rest of the team:
71. Kale Gaden: .349
76. Brannon Champagne: .339
89: Ryan Ampleman: .299
96: Dane Opel: .256
Stats courtesy of Mike Rogers from BlessYouBoys.com.
These numbers are out of 101 Big 12 hitters. Gaden's wOBA is by no means bad—a league-average wOBA in the majors is about .330. Granted Gaden (and the rest of the team) has obviously faced inferior pitching compared to the majors, just because his wOBA is below-average in the Big 12 doesn't mean he hasn't hit the ball well.
A lot of credit needs to go to Garcia for hitting the ball so well as a freshman. Given that he didn't even begin the season in the team's starting lineup—Conner Mach did—it's very impressive how well he's fared at the plate.
Nicholas has been very impressive at the plate so far, as it seems as if he's improved with every series Mizzou has played. He seems to know exactly when to be aggressive and when to take a few pitches at the plate, and his power has really started to show itself lately.
One final note: more power to Liberto for continuing to hit the ball so well. His .509 BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is second-highest in the Big 12. That may not be a good thing, though, as BABIP usually regresses to the mean—and if Liberto does see his BABIP fall into the .400s or even the .300s, his offensive numbers will as well. Keep an eye on that number as Liberto's season moves forward—it's not unprecedented for a player to have a high BABIP for an entire season like that, but more often than not, it's a number that regresses.
That's not to say Liberto has been lucky this year, though. He's put together a lot of very good at-bats from the bottom of Missouri's order, and it will be interesting to see if coach Tim Jamieson keeps him high in the order. Liberto led off Wednesday's drubbing of UA-PB.
A caveat to all these numbers: for the most part, these numbers have came against pitching that is not at the level of Big 12 pitching. Jamieson talked about facing the "speed" of Texas A&M after Wednesday's game, alluding to the higher velocity of A&M's pitchers' pitches.
This weekend series will provide an interesting look into Missouri's offense, but if the team does struggle, it won't mean that these numbers are bloated because of sub-par pitching. A rough showing in College Station could simply mean that Mizzou hasn't faced a high-velocity fastball in a little while.