2021 was one of the worst years, if not the worst year, in UH baseball history. Since the program began playing 48 games or more in 1977, only three teams have failed to hit 20 wins:
1980: 17-28-1 (6-17-1 SWC)
2012: 18-35-1 (5-18-1 C-USA)
2021: 19-34 (7-21 AAC)
Despite the similar records, this team was worse than Todd Whitting’s 2012 team. Massey rated the 2012 schedule 47th nationally while rating this season’s SOS 97th. A much worse schedule and just one more win (and one less loss).
UH avoided four games with #11 ECU this year due to COVID issues inside Houston’s program. In all likelihood, the Coogs would have at least tied or finished with more losses than the 2012 team which is the most losses in school history.
The Cougars used to pride themselves on their baseball schedules. From 1998 until he was let go in 2011, Rayner Noble’s schedules were 55th or better nationally. Todd’s schedules have been somewhat worse even though he plays in a better league. In fact, only once since (at least) 1998 has a UH schedule been worse than this one. That was in 2013, coming off of the disaster of 2012. Expect next year’s schedule to be dumbed down, too.
With the resources, facilities, money, recruiting area, and interest that UH baseball has, there is no justification for the program sliding this far. But Whitting didn’t think it would be bad. He told Joseph Duarte in the Chronicle’s season preview that his 2021 team was deep and talented:
2021 was no one-time accident. The program has been headed downward for several years and the numbers reflect that. Here’s UH’s national ranking in major offensive/defensive categories since Todd Whitting took over:
It’s reasonable to overlook the 2020 season performance due to the shortened season. But those numbers look like the year before and the year after which suggests they are no fluke. They were bad enough that the staff began a major retooling of the roster once again, just like they had done the year before. I expect major changes coming again this off-season, too.
Only twice in the Whitting era has the team’s batting average been in the top 100 nationally. Worse is UH’s on-base percentage – six times in the last decade, UH has been in the bottom half of all D1 schools at getting on base. How is that possible with the high school baseball talent in this state? This year’s ranking of 280th in OBP is just 7 spots from dead last in D1.
Slugging has been better than 117th nationally just once since Todd took over. And besides a one-year blip in 2017, UH has averaged 179th in runs scored the last six seasons. Even if you factor in 2017, the Coogs average 155th over that span.
Todd Whitting was adamant about this team performing much differently than outsiders thought. And he was right – having been picked 4th in the league, UH finished 7th, 11 wins behind 4th place.
A fact that has not been discussed much is Todd’s success in getting to the postseason. In his 10 seasons where the Tournament has occurred, UH made it just four times. Even if you give him a break for the first 2-3 years, the trend is not going well.
2014: Super Regional
UH has not been a great program for a long, long time. Sure, there have been good seasons but the program has not held an upward trajectory more than two years at a time.
And those two-year spurts can be directly attributed to the team’s pitching coach at the time, Frank Anderson. Without Frank as the pitching wizard, UH’s slump would be far, far worse. Next time, we’ll look at UH’s numbers with and without Frank Anderson.