The Ivy League baseball preseason poll said its piece: Yale first, Columbia second, Penn third, all the way through to Cornell in last. But now, midway through the season and armed with hindsight, game footage, and advanced stats calculated from the Ivy League’s (questionably structured) stats pages, we can better evaluate the strength of the league.
We have much to say. Here are our power rankings for Ivy League baseball through April 10, 2022.
8. Princeton (4-21, 2-8 Ivy)
We’ve found it: a sport that Princeton is bad at. Though the Tigers spoiled Penn's senior nights in football, men’s soccer, and men’s basketball this year, it doesn’t look like their baseball team has much of a chance of doing the same.
It took Princeton 12 straight losses to start the season before its first victory, a 18-11 toppling of Towson on March 19. The Tigers currently have the worst record in the conference, despite the best efforts of junior outfielder Nadir Lewis, who paces the Ivy League in weighted on-base percentage, or wOBA (.532), slugging percentage (.774), OPS (1.282), home runs (9), and walks (22).
Though the Tigers are tied for the third-best wOBA in the Ivy League at 0.346, their pitching ranks second to last in both ERA (7.81) and wOBA allowed (.400). The fielding isn’t much better — Princeton has committed 43 errors, the most in the Ivy League.
The storied Orange and Black program boasts the most Ivy League Baseball Championship Series titles at eight. But in 2022, the Tigers stand as prey at the bottom of the Ivy pyramid.
Stats and Spite: Princeton’s nine errors committed against Columbia on April 3 is tied for third-most errors in a game in program history — and that’s a long history, because the Tigers have been playing since 1864.
7. Cornell (7-14, 3-6 Ivy)
The Big Red is over-performing even their mediocre record this season. Cornell has given up 233 runs and only scored 134 for a Pythagorean expected win percentage (essentially determining team performance based on runs scored and allowed) of .249, compared to its actual win percentage of .333.
Cornell also holds the honor of being the only Ivy team with a loss against Princeton so far. The Tigers’ 12-3 victory over Cornell on April 9 snapped Princeton’s streak of six consecutive conference losses, and then the Tigers followed it up with a 10-6 win on April 10 to take the series from the Big Red.
Cornell has great hitters in junior outfielder Sam Kaplan and sophomore catcher Nathan Waugh, but that’s not really enough when you also have the worst pitching in the league by ERA, FIP, and wOBA allowed.
Vibes: Senior pitcher Luke Yakinich threw an 85-pitch no-hitter in the Alaskan Baseball League this past summer. Notable alumni of the league include Barry Bonds, Randy Johnson, Paul Goldschmidt, and Aaron Judge — and now, Luke Yakinich.
6. Brown (6-17, 2-7 Ivy)
Brown has the opposite issue to Cornell; though the Bears have adequate pitching, Brown’s batters lead the Ivy League in striking out (266). Individually, five of the top seven in strikeouts in the Ivy League are on Brown’s roster. And when they do get on base, the Bears have been caught stealing more than any other team in the Ancient Eight, having been hosed down 12 times.
If there’s any consolation, however, Brown’s in-conference match-ups have been far more difficult than Cornell’s (i.e. they have yet to face Princeton). The Bears took one game off of Dartmouth and Harvard in their series losses. Additionally, while their pitching ranks fourth in ERA and wOBA, they rank second in fielding-independent pitching, or FIP (5.59). Assuming that the Bears can get luckier (or at least get their feet under them defensively — Brown has the third-worst fielding percentage in the league at 0.959), they might see their on-field results tick higher.
Brown pitcher Tobey McDonough highlights the pitching rotation. The junior right-hander ranks second in the Ivy League in ERA (3.12) through 40.1 innings so far this season.
Vibes: On April 5, four Brown pitchers combined for the program’s first no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Holy Cross.
5. Yale (14-10, 5-4 Ivy)
The Elis were tabbed to finish first in the conference in this year’s Ivy League preseason poll, but they don’t look to be living up to the hype quite yet.
Yale swept the Ivy League weekly awards after its first series win against Princeton, with two-way player Jimmy Chatfield named Rookie of the Week, right-handed pitcher Mike Walsh named Pitcher of the Week, and catcher/outfielder Jake Gehri named Player of the Week.
But ever since, Yale has lost both of its series against Dartmouth and Cornell, and despite its 5-4 record, the Bulldogs have yet to face an Ivy League opponent that’s above .500.
Chatfield highlights Yale’s roster, boasting a 1.076 OPS and ranking fourth in the conference in wOBA (.463) as a rookie, albeit a junior one. On the mound, Chatfield posted eight strikeouts and surrendered only one hit through five innings of work.
Stats, Vibes, and Spite: Mike Walsh hit five batters in a February game against Auburn and has since gone on to hit 10 more to claim the league lead.
4. Dartmouth (12-13, 5-4 Ivy)
The Big Green stands middle of the pack in almost every statistical category, and as a result, they land in the middle of our rankings. Their past week has been particularly impressive, headlined by Ivy League Rookie of the Week and Pitcher of the Week awards earned by infielder Tyler Cox and left-handed pitcher Trystan Sarcone, respectively, followed by a series win against Yale.
Cox is batting .410 with a .966 OPS and .423 wOBA. Sarcone held Penn to only one run in 7.1 innings, and ranks seventh in the Ivy League with a 4.88 ERA.
Dartmouth’s hitting isn’t extraordinary, but its offense is well-rounded. Four of its batters rank top-20 in the Ivy League in wOBA. As Dartmouth has yet to face two teams at the bottom of the Ivy League (Princeton and Cornell) and two teams at the top (Harvard and Columbia), we’ll see exactly how far Dartmouth’s general solidity can carry them.
Vibes: Tyler Cox’s father, Richard Cox, was nominated for a Tony Award in 1979 and has over 100 television and film credits on his IMBd page.
3. Harvard (13-12, 5-3 Ivy)
Harvard is the reigning conference champion after its title win in 2019. But after two years, Harvard no longer has a cut-and-dry path to the Ivy League Baseball Championship.
The Crimson swept Cornell and took two of three from Brown, but got hit hard by Penn in a series that was shortened to two games due to inclement weather. Entering the series against the Quakers, Harvard pitchers had a collective 4.88 ERA — afterward, that stat ballooned to 5.81.
Despite struggles with control, right-handed pitcher Jaren Zinn stands out for the Crimson. He leads the league in wild pitches (15) and is tied for the league in strikeouts (49), and held Penn to just one run in the second game before the bullpen blew the game open. Catcher Zach Brown also caught three Quakers stealing.
Infielder Chris Snopek has a batting average of .372, an OPS of .953, and a wOBA of .422 in his rookie season, all of which lead his team.
Stats, Vibes, and Spite: If Penn-Harvard were an NCAA softball series, the first game would have ended by mercy rule after Penn held a 17-3 lead at the end of the fifth inning. Instead, the game went on to end 27-6.
2. Columbia (14-13, 7-2 Ivy)
Columbia was the Ivy League championship runner-up in 2019, the preseason poll runner-up going into 2022, and is now the runner-up in our power rankings.
Despite not having a batter in the top-10 in OPS, the Lions have seven batters with an OPS above .800. Their wOBA of .357, second in the Ivy League, reflects the well-roundedness of their lineup. Similarly, Columbia has few pitching standouts, but the entire staff’s ERA is second in the conference (5.61).
The main knock against Columbia would be its strength of schedule thus far. The Lions swept Princeton and Brown, scoring over 10 runs in five of the six games, but lost their only series to an opponent above .500 (that opponent being Penn).
Stats: For the fancy stats truthers out there, despite only having a batting average of .271, which ranks 37th, infielder Andy Blake has a wOBA of .390, good for 15th in the Ivy League.
1. Penn (19-8, 6-2 Ivy)
Penn first turned heads when it won its season-opening series against Texas A&M and has since dominated conference play, leading in most hitting and pitching metrics. This pick might scream homerism, but it’s difficult to justify ranking Penn any lower than first.
By basic stats: Penn leads the league in batting average (.308), OBP (.394), slugging (.478), and ERA (4.56). By more advanced stats: Penn leads the league in wOBA (.382), FIP (5.43), and wOBA allowed (.316), and it’s not a fluke — Penn’s win percentage of .704 is actually just under their Pythagorean expected win percentage of .712.
The Quakers have won every Ivy League series they’ve played so far. They broke their streak of losing the second game of every three-game series with two straight wins against Harvard, featuring 27 runs over the course of one game and a daylong weather delay.
Senior starters Kevin Eaise and Joe Miller have been consistently hard to hit on the mound, with ERAs of 3.99 and 4.38, respectively. Junior reliever Owen Coady is arguably the best pitcher in the Ivy League this year with an ERA of 2.94. Sophomore third baseman Wyatt Henseler and junior catcher Jackson Appel both have an OPS above 1.000 on the season — Appel is also a switch hitter, and is riding a 20-game on-base streak.
All of this, and they’ve yet to face Princeton, Cornell, or Brown, who have the worst records in the Ivy League.
It might be hard to accept for a school that hasn’t won a baseball championship since 1995, but it’s time to get used to it: For Penn, it’s Ivy League Championship or bust.
Stats, Vibes, and (Apparent) Spite: Wyatt Henseler has been hit by a pitch 11 times so far this season, leading the Ivy League by three and accounting for almost half of Penn’s HBPs (23).
KATHRYN XU is a College junior from New Providence, N.J. and a Sports Associate for The Daily Pennsylvanian studying Physics and English. LOCHLAHN MARCH is a College junior from Toronto and former Sports Editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian studying Classics and Political Science. They can be reached at email@example.com.
All comments eligible for publication in Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. publications.