Monday, December 21, 2015

2016 Gator Baseball Preview

The Florida Gator baseball team is easily favored by many to take home the National Championship in 2016. This week, the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll released its preseason rankings and coming in at #1 was in fact the Florida Gators.

After two heartbreaking defeats to Virginia in the College World Series, the mentality for the 2016 Gators is National Championship or bust. I briefly ran into first baseman Peter Alonso in October and he told me basically that if they "do not win it all this year, it will be a huge disappointment."

I would have to say I agree with him. The team that the Gators will be fielding this upcoming season is absolutely filthy! Evaluating the team through the three components of offense, pitching, and defense, there is no hole in this Florida team. If you do not believe me, let me break it down further.


The lineup is powerful enough that it could easily produce more than five runs every game. Here is my projected lineup for the 2016 Gators:
  1. Buddy Reed- Center Field
  2. Dalton Guthrie- Second Base
  3. JJ Schwarz- Catcher/DH
  4. Peter Alonso- First Base
  5. John Sternagel- Third Base
  6. Jon India- Shortstop
  7. Mike Rivera- Catcher
  8. Ryan Larson- Left Field
  9. Jeremy Vasquez- Right Field
1. Buddy Reed- Insanely fast, Reed is a constant threat on the base paths (he stole 18 bags last season) who can turn bloop hits into doubles. He also has a great eye as he drew 27 walks last year.

2. Dalton Guthrie- A de facto second leadoff man, Guthrie is another speedster who can either hit behind Reed or be thrown in the nine-spot to kickstart the bottom of the order. Like Reed, he has a great eye as he reached base 29 times via walk.

3. JJ Schwarz- Last season's home run and RBI leader (with 17 long balls and 73 RBIs, respectively), Schwarz will be one of the most feared Gator hitters in this lineup. With Reed and Guthrie constantly reaching base, RBI opportunities will be plentiful for the sophomore.

4. Peter Alonso- After missing over 30 games last year and having to wear a Bane-like mask due to a pre-game accident, a full-season without major injury will see Peter Alonso do big things from the cleanup spot. Do not let his five homers from last year fool you. This boy has power.

5. John Sternagel- Not getting much playing time the past two seasons due to the likes of Josh Tobias at third base, Sternagel will get his opportunity to lock down the hot corner this year. He will definitely need to work on his hitting to win the job, however, as he went hitless in eight of 13 games where he had more than one at-bat.

6. Jon India- The only freshman I know from the Gators #1 ranked recruiting class, India is a fine young ballplayer. I believe he has the skill set to win the starting shortstop job and absolutely dominate in his first collegiate season. He will continue the pattern of true freshmen coming in and tearing it up for the Gators (Schwarz/Rivera/Guthrie in 2014 and Shore/Reed in 2013).

7. Mike Rivera- A beast behind the plate and a player who performs in the clutch, Rivera will provide run production from the bottom of the order (he was third on the team last year with 48 RBIs). Look for him to show a little more power at the dish at well this year.

8. Ryan Larson- Playing in almost every game last season, Larson is a guy that can hit for average in the eight-hole. He had 51 hits last year and knows how to get on base as shown by his 24 walks.

9. Jeremy Vasquez- Starting 29 of the 42 games he appeared in last year, Vasquez is another player who can hit for average. Given more AB's as a sophomore, I expect Vasquez to become a better contact and situational hitter from the nine-hole. Look for an increase in walks as well (Vasquez drew 15 walks his freshman season).


The pitching staff has three bonafide starters who the Gators can rely on for their 10 SEC weekend series along with other weekend series against Florida Gulf Coast, Miami, Dartmouth, Harvard, and the three spaced out games vs Florida State. Here is my projected pitching rotation for the 2016 Gators:

  1. Logan Shore
  2. A.J. Puk
  3. Alex Faedo
  4. Dane Dunning
  5. Shaun Anderson
  1. Frank Rubio
  2. Shaun Anderson
  3. Kirby Snead
  4. Tyler Deel
  5. Brett Morales
  6. Logan Browning
1. Logan Shore- The ace of this Gator team, Shore led the team in wins and ERA last season (11 and 2.72, respectively). He could be a potential first rounder with another incredible season from the bump.

2. A.J. Puk- An interchangeable ace with Shore, Puk stands at an intimidating 6'7. To make the pot sweeter, he is a lefty who knows how to ramp it up and throw it past hitters. Going 9-4 with a 3.81 ERA, he led the Gator pitching staff with 104 strikeouts and some say he could be he #1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.

3. Alex Faedo- Showing much promise as a freshman, Faedo's skills will be refined for his sophomore campaign for the Orange and Blue. Posting a 6-1 record with a 3.23 ERA last year, he provides a solid third option for the Gators in their Sunday series finales.

4. Dane Dunning- The third-year man out of Fleming Island has always been able to give the Gators a bunch of innings. In the event where Faedo is hurt or too fatigued to start, Dunning could easily fill his spot and grind out the 'W'! He posted a 6-2 record, 4.03 ERA, and 55 strikeouts last year, and will improve upon those numbers this year.

5. Shaun Anderson- Straight out of my hometown of Coral Springs, Florida, Anderson is a solid acquaintance of mine. He started just one game (against Florida State) his sophomore season and posted a 4.09 ERA with 21 strikeouts out of the bullpen. In a situation where both Faedo and Dunning are unavailable, Anderson would be a good guy for Sully to throw out there for a weekday or Sunday game.

The bullpen will be key for Florida this year and should be held down mainly by Rubio, Anderson (if he is not starting), and Snead as the closer. I expect everyone to contribute in some way or form, but Coach O'Sullivan tends to go with the guys who are the most consistent. Simply put, if a guy goes out and gets blown up for five runs in relief, he may not see the field again for another month.


The Florida Gators were one of the best defensive teams last season, which is one of the big reasons why they made it all the way to the College World Series. As the old saying goes, defense wins championships. If the Gators want to live up to the high expectations placed upon them in 2016, they will need to make the routine plays and avoid giving their opponents extra outs.

Here are the total number of errors committed by the 2016 projected lineup and starting rotation:

  1. Buddy Reed- 3
  2. Dalton Guthrie - 6
  3. JJ Schwarz - 3
  4. Peter Alonso- 1
  5. John Sternagel- 3
  6. Jon India- 0
  7. Mike Rivera- 1
  8. Ryan Larson- 1
  9. Jeremy Vasquez- 5
  1. Logan Shore- 0
  2. A.J. Puk- 3
  3. Alex Faedo- 0
  4. Dane Dunning- 1
  5. Shaun Anderson- 0
For the starting lineup that is a grand total of just 23 errors with four more coming from the starters. So with the core players of 2016 committing just 27 total errors, the Florida Gators should once again be a defensively sound squad.

2016 Schedule

In regards to their opponents, here is a look at who the Florida Gators will be taking on this season.

19th: FGCU
20th: FGCU
21st: FGCU
23rd: Eastern Michigan
24th: Eastern Michigan
26th: @Miami
27th: @Miami
28th: @Miami

1st: @UCF
2nd: UCF
4th: Dartmouth
5th: Dartmouth
6th: Dartmouth
8th: @UNF
9th: UNF
11th: Harvard
12th: Harvard
13th: Harvard
15th: FSU
18th: Missouri*
19th: Missouri*
20th: Missouri*
22th: FAU
25th: @Kentucky*
26th: @Kentucky*
27th: @Kentucky*
29th: @FSU

1st: Texas A&M*
2nd: Texas A&M*
3rd: Texas A&M*
5th: Jacksonville
8th: Mississippi State*
9th: Mississippi State*
10th: Mississippi State*
12th: @FSU
14th: @Arkansas*
15th: @Arkansas*
16th: @Arkansas*
19th: Jacksonville
22nd: Georgia*
23rd: Georgia*
24th: Georgia*
29th: @South Carolina*
30th: @South Carolina*

1st: @South Carolina*
3rd: Bethune-Cookman
6th: @Tennessee*
7th: @Tennessee*
8th: @Tennessee*
10th: USF
13th: Vanderbilt*
14th: Vanderbilt*
15th: Vanderbilt*
19th: @LSU*
20th: @LSU*
21st: @LSU*

*Denotes SEC game
Home games in bold

Final Takeaway:
In 2016, the Florida Gators are going to have one of the best baseball teams in school history that is expected to win the program's first National Championship in 101 seasons. With a lineup oozing with power and speed, a pitching rotation with two potential first rounders followed by depth, and a defense that will finish Top-5 in the country, the Florida Gators have no one to blame but themselves if they do not leave Omaha as National Champions this summer.

This is going to be an exciting season and I cannot wait to be there for every single moment of it! Go Gators!

*All stats accredited to

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