How does a team win a baseball game? By scoring more runs than their opponent.
This week’s power rankings takes a look at the leading run creator for each Big Ten team. Runs created is statistic created by Bill James to estimate the number of runs a player contributes to his team. For the algebraically-inclined, the formula is:
RC = ( (Hits + walk) x Total bases) / (At-bats + walks).
Don’t worry, we did the math for you.
#1 Indiana (12-4) Last Week: 1
Jr. OF Logan Kaletha: 12.95 RC. Indiana’s leadoff batter, Kaletha has been the catalyst to IU’s offense, batting .304, and posting a .500 on-base percentage, behind 11 walks and 11 hit by pitches, to score 19 runs. The junior outfielder has shown some pop with four doubles, two triples, and two home runs, to slug .554.
#2 Illinois (9-4) LW: 3
Jr. 1B Bren Spillane: 15.33 RC. Making a strong case for the most improved player in the conference, Spillane’s emergence is a key factor to the Illini’s hot start. Anchoring Dan Hartleb’s lineup, Spillane has a triple-slash of .367/.429/.735, with seven doubles, three home runs, and 15 RBI.
#3 Ohio State (11-6) LW: 7
Sr. 1B Noah McGowan: 23.84 RC. Leading the Big Ten with 26 RBI, McGowan powers an Ohio State lineup that is averaging a conference-leading 7.6 runs per game. With a .406/.476/.739 line, the Buckeye has earned the right to be named the Big Ten’s best player over the first month.
#4 Rutgers (9-6) LW: 12
Sr. INF Kyle Walker: 11.4 RC. Although Walker has only recorded 33 at-bats, the senior Scarlet Knight has picked up 17 hits. Walker’s .515 average ranks second in the country, with his ability to get on base helping Rutgers to a solid 9-6 start.
#5 Nebraska (10-7) LW: 8
Sr. DH/OF Scott Schreiber: 17.06 RC. Over the last week, Schreiber has collected his 200th career hit and 30th career home. Batting .348 on the season, with five doubles and four home runs, the four-year starter is closing a strong Husker career with another season as the key offensive force in Darin Erstad’s lineup.
#6 Minnesota (12-7) LW: 5
Jr. SS Terrin Vavra: 18.57 RC. Vavra is the top run creator in a Gopher lineup that’s batting .301, the best clip in the Big Ten. With a .392 average, composed of four doubles, two triples, and a home run, Vavra leads the Big Ten with 29 hits, second to McGowan with 19 runs scored.
#7 Maryland (8-7) LW: 6
Jr. 2B Nick Dunn: 18.59 RC. Following a summer where he established himself as a top prospect, garnering all-start honors in the Cape Cod League, the first month of Dunn’s junior season as done nothing to dispel notion. Dunn leads Maryland in average (.358), doubles (five), home runs (five), runs scored (16) and RBI (18).
#8 Purdue (9-6) LW: 2
Jr. 1B Jacson McGowan: 18.57 RC. As Purdue looks to show their 2017 turnaround wasn’t a fluke, McGowan has anchored a Boilermaker lineup that is the program’s most potent since its 2012 regional team. McGowan leads the Big Ten with a .745 slugging percentage, on the strength of a Big Ten-best six home runs.
#9 Iowa (8-6) LW: 4
Jr. OF Robert Neustrom: 9.01 RC. While it hasn’t been a spectacular start to the 2018 season for a player some evaluators view Big Ten’s top positional prospect for the June draft, it has been a solid month. Neustrom leads Iowa with a .323 average, second in on-base (.403) and slugging (.415) percentages.
#10 Michigan State (4-10) LW: 10
So. OF Justin Antoncic: 11.07 RC. For most Michigan State hitters, the first month was a forgettable one, collectively the club has a .224 average in 14 games. The exception being a Justin Antoncic, a player who had all of two at-bats a year ago, but leads the team with a .354 average, six extra-base hits, .971 OPS, and five stolen bases.
#11 Michigan (4-11) LW: 9
Jr. OF Miles Lewis: 6.6 RC. Lewis is the lone Wolverine with more than one home run, his two accounting for 40% of the team’s total. With a .306 on-base percentage and .400 slugging mark, the outfielder is the only regular with an OPS above .700, as Michigan’s offense struggles to Big Ten-lows average (.218) and slugging percentage (.287)
#12 Northwestern (5-7) LW: 13
Jr. 1B Willie Bourbon: 11.63 RC. Northwestern had a big void to fill with the graduation of Joe Hoscheit and so far Bourbon has elevated his game to be the big bats the ‘Cats need. Eight of Bourbon’s first 12 hits have gone for multiple bases, with two doubles, two triples and four home runs leading to a .714 slugging percentage.
#13 Penn State (4-8) LW: 12
Jr. C Ryan Sloniger: 9.54 RC. It’s been a rocky start for the Nittany Lions, but one consistent has been the performance of Sloniger. Enjoying a breakout season in his third year in State College, the backstop’s 13 RBI and .946 OPS pace the club.