College Baseball Analysis: South Carolina's 2012 Pennant Race

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South Carolina has fought back from a 1-5 start to find themselves leading two pennant races in the SEC.  The Gamecocks lead the East by one game and are tied for the lead of the whole conference with LSU.  Here are the standings:

SEC East            W/L    GB

SC                      16-8     -

Kentucky            15-9     1

Florida                14-10   2

Georgia              12-12   4

Vanderbilt           11-13   5

Tennessee          8-16    8

It is still possible for everyone but Tennessee to win the East.  South Carolina is the only team that controls its own destiny.  In pennant races there is the concept of a magic number.  The team leading a race can win a certain amount of games and ensure they win the pennant.  However, the team that is trailing can lose and help the winning team.  The combination of wins or losses is the magic number.  

Here are South Carolina's magic numbers against the rest of the East:

Kentucky 6

Florida 5

Georgia 3

Vanderbilt 1

A series win against Georgia would eliminate both Georgia and Vanderbilt, no matter what, and depending on the other games possibly Florida and Kentucky.  Florida would have to lose the series and Kentucky would have to be swept.

For the SEC regular season title and the #1 seed in Hoover, the pennant race looks like this:

SEC Standings      W/L     GB

SC                         16-8     -

LSU                       16-8     -

Kentucky               15-10    1

Florida                   14-10    2

I've only listed the top 4 teams because one of them is going to get to 19 wins.  That will eliminate the rest of the conference.  (If for some reason a miracle happens and none of them reach 19 wins, I'll respond to each and every one of your emails telling you I was wrong.)

OK, so that's where we are.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention how amazing it is the Gamecocks are in the position they are now.  After 10 conference games South Carolina was a staggering 5 games out of first place.  They were 3-7, and Kentucky was 8-2.  In the next 14 games USC went 13-1 while Kentucky went 7-7.  That's amazing.

Here's some perspective.  Arguably the greatest major league pennant race comeback happened in 1934 when the Saint Louis Cardinals made up a 5.5 game deficit to the New York Giants with 15 games to play.  South Carolina just made up 5 in 14.  There's just a little more work to do...

Check back with leftoverhotdog for updates on the pennant race, and for updates as they happen, follow me on twitter here.

Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.


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