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SEC Baseball Team Previews: Auburn Tigers

SEC Baseball Team Previews: Auburn Tigers

The Auburn Tigers are entering the 2020 season inside the top 10 preseason rankings. They will be contending for an SEC title as well a chance to get back to Omaha. They’ve brought in a solid recruiting class and are all set to hit the dirt this weekend.

2019 Record: 38-28 (14-16)

Postseason: 0-2 in College World Series

Perfect Game Recruiting Class: 10th

2020 Prediction: 3rd in the West

2019 Season

The 2019 season was one of the best for Auburn. The regular season record was nothing to brag about and the SEC record only came in at 14-16. But the Tigers got hot at the exact right time and made the 2019 postseason one to remember.

After going 1-2 in the SEC Tournament, Auburn made a three game sweep in the Atlanta Regional hosted by Georgia Tech. They then faced North Carolina in Chapel Hill for the Super Regional and won the series to go back to the College World Series for the first time since 1997.

2020 Schedule

Notable Non-Conference Games

February 21-23: UCF 36-22, 47 RPI

February 28 – March 1: Wright State 42-17, 87 RPI

March 10, April 7: No.19 Georgia Tech 43-19, 8 RPI

April 14: @ Samford 41-19, 72 RPI

There isn’t a lot of meat to the Auburn Tigers baseball nonconference schedule. With a schedule like this, they shouldn’t expect to lose any more than five games outside of the SEC.

SEC Baseball Team Previews: Auburn Tigers
Auburn celebrates their victory over North Carolina in an NCAA super-regional baseball game in Chapel Hill. (Photo by mountaineagle.com).

The midweeks against Georgia Tech will be the highlight of the schedule. Auburn went 0-2 against the Yellow Jackets in the midweek in 2019, but turned it around on them in the regional. The Tigers ran Tech out of their own stadium en route to Omaha.

A pair of teams that won’t turn any eyes but are still teams that win a lot of games in their respective conferences are Wright State and Samford. Both teams won 40 games a season ago and were atop their conference standings.

UCF didn’t have the greatest season last year and finished towards the bottom of the American standings. But they had a high RPI and were able to take a game against Auburn last year in the three-game series. They also beat Florida, Florida State and Miami in midweek games.

SEC East Opponents

March 20-22: @ Missouri

April 9-11: @ No.5 Georgia

April 16-18: Kentucky

May 1-3: No.4 Florida

Not Playing: No.2 Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Tennessee

Auburn got two of the preseason top five East teams on the schedule. They’ll get to play rivals Georgia again on the road in early April. An early road series in Columbia may be one to watch if it shapes up to be a cold weekend.

Auburn closes the slate with Florida at home before finishing off the season on the road at Ole Miss and home against LSU. A big series win against Florida would give them great momentum heading into those final two winnable series. Despite playing two top-five teams, Auburn stands a good chance to go .500 or better against their East schedule.

SEC Baseball Team Previews: Auburn Tigers
Tanner Burns (pictured) and Cody Greenhill both made the Preseason All-SEC Second Team. (Photo by auburntigers.com).

2020 Roster

Potential Starters

RHP Tanner Burns: 4-4, 2.82 ERA

LHP Jack Owen: 4-2, 2.75 ERA

LHP Bailey Horn: 4-2, 5.97 ERA

LHP Brooks Fuller: 2-2, 4.50 ERA

Auburn’s pitching staff should be improved as they return the three players with the most starts in 2019. Tanner Burns is definitely going to be the ace on Friday nights followed by Jack Owen who had a strong sophomore season.

The Sunday role is a toss-up and will likely go to another lefty. Brooks Fuller has plenty of experience starting after being thrown into the role last season due to injuries. Junior Bailey Horn is climbing his way back from injury and has been fast improving himself.

Auburn also will have their closer back in junior Cody Greenhill. The righty was solid last season with 12 saves and a 3.45 ERA.

Offensive Weapons

Auburn’s offensive production last year was mediocre and ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in most categories. Still, it was enough to get them through to the World Series and they’ll be returning seven of the nine everyday starters from 2019.

SEC Baseball Team Previews: Auburn Tigers
Rankin Woley was voted to the Preseason All-SEC Second Team. (Photo by 247sports.com).

The powerful duo of lefty Steven Williams and righty Conor Davis will provide the big extra-base hits. Williams struggled with consistent hitting but showed signs of power with nine home runs. Davis led the team in batting average with eight homeruns of his own.

Infielder standout Ryan Bliss will be building off a monster freshman year. The speedy youngster was second on the team in batting average and brings expertise on the basepaths stealing 11 bases in 13 attempts.

Senior Rankin Woley is another big bat who might hit third in the lineup. Auburn coaches have raved that he is one of the most improved hitters this fall. Look for him to boost last year’s respectable numbers of .277 with 45 RBIs.

Outlook

Auburn looks to be more balanced this season. The rotation is still going to be solid and one of the best in the league. But the offense should take a big step forward.

The return of so many everyday starters who have World Series experience is an advantage few teams will have. Besides the power duo, the Tigers have a trio of strong bats in the middle of the lineup that should be improved from last season in Bliss, Ward and Howell.

 

 

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