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DSR provides checks and balances against overreliance on RPI • D1Baseball


As we enter May, the concept of RPI enters our college baseball halls. Or maybe permeate is a better practice. We know it's a flawed metric, because we know all metrics have limitations.

My concern with the RPI is not that it is not perfect. That is to be expected. My concern about the RPI centers on how much this metric has affected how we view the postseason field. It's a lot of…let's call it a lot.

I Diamond Sports Ranking (DSR) appeared this past season, compliments of our best friends in the 6-4-3 charts. This was an opportunity to look at college baseball teams and their seasons without opening our RPI glasses. A different look if you will. Why don't we want that?

Sometimes DSR will agree with RPI. I struggled with Arizona's fielding last year as the Wildcats went 12-18 in actual conference games. However, both DSR and RPI liked their progress. On the other hand, UC Irvine's RPI was a major concern in 2023. DSR saw it differently and I wholeheartedly agreed with DSR in this case. The diners should have come in.

So for now, let's use DSR as a check for RPI. When there is a significant difference between two metrics, there is an opportunity for a more healthy discussion. This exercise will be an assessment of six groups whose metrics disagree. No matter where we land, these are exactly the kinds of conversations we should be having. And to that point, I consider this to be discussion number one of many. Let's dig in.

RPI indicators

Louisiana (DSR 22 – RPI 51)

There's a lot to like here. An impressive 33-13 record is highlighted by a stellar 17-4 slate in Sun Belt play. The club leads the way on the mound (3.85 ERA ranks No. 9 nationally) and the offense stars shortstop Kyle DeBarge. However, the offense as a whole ranks 148th in scoring. Louisiana has played just 13 true road games (10-3) and the RPI doesn't care about five Q4 losses. All that being said, if not for that No. 51 RPI, will this club be considered a host? Another district in Lafayette… I commented yes.

Kansas (DSR 38 – RPI 60)

The Jayhawks (25-15, 12-9) made a splash in the fall with an improved program and highly regarded coaching staff. But when KU lost its first two weekends (against UIC; at the Karbach Round Rock Classic), the proverbial fire went out. And even the most naive of hopefuls would have bailed after the club was swept at home by West Virginia in early April. Although the RPI has gone to the Jayhawks, an interesting DSR reveals that KU is a 10-1 heater. This includes a 5-0 record against Nebraska and Texas Tech. The club ranks 34th nationally in ERA (4.59) and 10th in doubles (104). They are also ranked as the toughest team in the Big 12 to beat. #Interesting

College of Charleston (DSR 23 – RPI 52)

Why does the RPI not like the Cougars (31-11, 14-4)? While they are 10-3 on the road, the RPI ranks non-conference Charleston SOS at 201. Low marks for this start will include a 1-5 home record against Nebraska and North Carolina A&T. Road series wins over UNCW and Campbell stood out, as did a series win over Wofford. The first place Cougs are 17-2 since March 29 and they can really pitch (3.76 ERA ranks No. 5 nationally). The secret sauce for this pitching staff is strikeouts, as the team sits at No. 7 in the nation in BB/9 (3.08). Don't let star first baseman Cole Mathis burn out a bit.

RPI Darlings

Xavier (DSR 85 – RPI 34)

This hurts my heart. The Big East deserves at least two bids this year. The league has one year. Xavier is a dominant program, and lest we forget the Muskies were a regional finalist last season. That said, the 2024 club sits at 22-22 and this run highlights two of RPI's biggest flaws: overreliance on SOS and road games. While these weights are both fair and reasonable in nature, the RPI takes it too far. The Muskies' NC SOS is ranked No. 3. They played a bad schedule. And they played 25 real road games. Most power conference teams will reach 20 road games. But winning these challenging competitions should matter. Xavier sits at 11-14 in those road games. Series wins over VCU, Bowling Green, and Creighton are notable, but not enough to overcome .500 overall and conference records.

Ole Miss (DSR 50 – RPI 29)

Like Xavier, I wish I could do this as a blind resume. The Rebels' 2022 national title run is one of the greatest stories in the history of our sport. All that said, this RPI doesn't reflect the struggles Ole Miss has experienced this year. Their overall record (23-21) more accurately reflects this fact. The Rebs' 7-14 conference record matches the 2022 team's league record of 21 games. However, those two groups are very different when considering the players' game records and eye tests. Series wins over Mississippi State and South Carolina are sound. But Ole Miss has won two of seven SEC weekends. The club ranks 167th nationally in ERA (6.20) and 171st in Score (6.6). If you believe that RPI protects the SEC, this CV speaks to that.

James Madison (DSR 64 – RPI 27)

The Dukes (26-18, 11-10) have been an exciting watch in 2024. And some of their hot national rankings: No. 18 in double plays turned, No. 3 in sac bunts, No. 29 in sac flies, No. 32 in slugging percentage. JMU is also 19-4 at home this year. When you read the club's outstanding RPI, one-off road wins over Arkansas, Virginia Tech, and Coastal Carolina seem to carry the day. A 27-15 series victory over East Tennessee State is also in play. However, JMU's 2-5 record in the weekend Sun Belt series gives reason to pause. The Dukes have a great club and that's not debatable. But this RPI seems to reflect a rough road schedule despite the team's 7-14 record in those games.

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