Clemson baseball proving that it is more than just Seth Beer’s team

Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; General view of logo before the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 13, 2015; Omaha, NE, USA; General view of logo before the 2015 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

Last year, the Clemson Tigers fared well, especially considering it was head coach Monte Lee’s first season at the helm after Jack Leggett had been the skipper in Tiger Town for over two decades. However, it is no secret that the entire Clemson batting order lived and died by slugger Seth Beer.

Beer produced what was arguably the greatest freshman season in the history of college baseball in 2016, carrying the Tigers game in and game out. Now, in 2017, Beer is still a clutch performer, evinced by his ninth-inning bomb against the South Carolina Gamecocks that still might be rocketing through the stratosphere.

But, statistically speaking, Beer is not having the same caliber of season that he experienced last year. After striking out an incredibly low 27 times in the entire 2016 season, Beer has already struck out 13 times this year. He is also hitting a somewhat modest .253 and has gone hitless in multiple games so far in 2017, not performing with the same level of consistency at the plate as he did this past season. Strangely enough, though, for the Tigers, that is good news.

Standing at 21-4, the fifth-ranked Tigers are one of the top teams in the nation, particularly at the plate. Having won seven in a row and 15 of their last 16, the Tigers are firing on all cylinders as they transition into the heart of conference play. Often defeating opponents by a multitude of runs, the offensive complacency that hurt the Tigers at times last year has not show itself yet this season.

Yes, Beer is, unsurprisingly, leading Clemson in home runs with eight in all, but some fresh faces are not trailing too far behind him in that category. First-year starter Chris Williams, a catcher who is now fully recovered from an injury that caused him to miss the early portion of the season, has come on strong lately and has five home runs and 20 RBI on the year.

Another unexpected hot shot at the plate has been graduate transfer Weston Jackson, who chose to play for Clemson in his final season of eligibility after a successful career at Presbyterian. An outfielder with a versatile offensive game, Jackson has earned himself a regular spot in the starting lineup as the season has progressed, and his presence in the batting order has definitely paid dividends for the Tigers. Despite only starting 18 games, Jackson is fourth on the team with 15 RBI and boasts a solid .418 slugging percentage.

With the usual suspects, such as outfielders Chase Pinder and Reed Rohlman, are doing their fair shares of damage at the plate, too, Clemson’s batting order, from top to bottom, is as dangerous as it has been in several years. Combined with the stellar performances being consistently put together by Clemson’s four-man pitching rotation, as well as a young bullpen that has already exceeded expectations, the Tiger hitters have Clemson poised to return to the College World Series for the first time in seven years.

Rest assured, Beer is still having himself quite the season and appears primed to repeat as ACC Player of the Year and perhaps National Player of the Year, as well. But the fact that he does not seem to have to be near-perfect in order for the Tigers to go on a winning streak is definitely a positive for Clemson. The Tigers are teeming with talent and hungry to make it back to Omaha, and if their performance over the course of the month of March is any indication, they should not have any problem doing so.