Trea Turner will finish higher on the ACC leaderboard in home runs than he will in steals, said nobody ever. This nobody might not have to eat his words. Granted, there is a lot of baseball to be played, but that surprising statistical tidbit stands out when looking at the ACC leaders through the pre-conference slate. Turner's four bombs are not only tied for second in the league, they are also more than four teams have hit total (Boston College, Clemson, Maryland, and North Carolina all have two).
Meanwhile, a year after swiping a school-record 57 bags, Turner does not even have sole possession of the team lead in steals; he and Brett Williams both have eight, which is good for third in the ACC. Maryland's Charlie White leads the conference with 15 already, and he may prove difficult for even Turner to catch.
Turner ranks first in the ACC in slugging percentage (.902), runs (25), hits (26), and total bases (46). His 1.92 runs scored per game is best mark not just in the ACC, but also nationally. Turner's .490 average is second to Wake Forest's Evan Stephens, but Stephens is hitting the emptiest .500 ever. He has just two extra base hits all year. Turner also leads the Pack in RBI (17) from the leadoff spot and ranks fifth in the ACC.
Williams has enjoyed a productive return from a knee injury that cost him all but a few innings of the 2012 season. Williams is fifth in the league with a .721 slugging percentage, tied for fifth with three home runs, sixth with 31 total bases, 10th with a .527 on base average, 11th with a .395 batting average, and 12th with 15 RBI.
Terran Senay has also been productive, posting the league's seventh highest RBI total (16) and 10th best slugging percentage (.644). Jake Armstrong is finding his way on base at a .490 clip thanks to ranking fifth in the conference in walks and getting hit by pitches.
The Turner-led offense has helped the Pack post a 300/.411/.499 triple slash line and average nearly nine runs a game, but much of that offense is bloated by games against the likes of Wagner. According to Warren Nolan, the Pack have played the nation's 188th toughest schedule.
Yes, Clemson (7-4) has played a much tougher pre-conference schedule than State, but it limps into Raleigh with a pedestrian .253/.321/.331 triple slash line and manages barely more than half the runs per game of its weekend opponent (4.64). The Tigers have no one in the top 25 in the ACC in on base or slugging percentage; there top hitter for average, Steve Wilkerson (.366), is 21st.
Five of Clemson's games have resulted in a shutout, and the Tigers were on the wrong end of two of those against South Carolina. Facing the Cocks three times is a big reason why the Tigers have the 17th toughest schedule in the nation so far according to Warren Nolan. But it's not just SEC powers that shut them down; Winthrop held Clemson to two runs.
Of course the Tigers were on the right end of a shutout three times and bring a formidable rotation into Raleigh led by Scott Firth, who ranks 10th in the ACC with a 0.86 ERA. Daniel Gossett (1.00) and Clate Schmidt (1.32) rank 12th and 13th respectively. Matt Campbell anchors the bullpen and sports a 2.08 ERA with three saves, which is tied for tops in the league. As a staff, Clemson boasts an impressive 2.16 ERA.
The Pack have at least two thirds of a formidable rotation of their own. Carlos Rodon has allowed opponents to hit all of .104 against him this season and he is striking out 17.1 batters per nine innings. Ethan Ogburn does not have enough innings to qualify for league leader status but boasts an impressive 1.00 ERA in the early going. After those two, it's anybody's guess. Late leads should be safe in the hands of Ryan Wilkins, who has yet to allow an opponent to scratch in five outings covering over 10 innings.
The quality of the opposition should temper the Pack's offensive production this weekend, so, unless the Tigers suddenly emerge from their season-long slump, expect a low-scoring series. Undefeated Florida State will most likely sweep baseball-challenged Boston College in Tallahassee, so the Pack needs to at least take two of three this weekend or risk digging a deep early hole in the race for the division title.
Friday's first pitch is slated for 3 p.m. with games to follow Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.