Defining Success: FSU’s 2013 Season

Those who claim FSU's 2013 season was a disappointment don't know what this team overcame.
Florida State was eliminated in Super Regionals by Indiana this year. The season was hardly a failure, though..

Florida State’s Mike Martin has been the head coach of Florida State’s baseball team since 1980. During his 34 seasons, his teams have won 1,771 games, participated in the NCAA Tournament every season, and earned trips to 15 College World Series. Mike Fuentes, Mike Loynd, J.D. Drew, and Buster Posey have all won the Golden Spikes Award under Martin at Tallahassee.

However, some look at Martin’s resume and point to what he doesn’t have: a national championship. In 21 total College World Series appearances in program history, the Seminoles have yet to return from Omaha with a title. With Martin at the helm for the vast majority of those appearances, he is largely held responsible for that lack of hardware.

Florida State’s Super Regional elimination at the hands of Indiana will be seen by some as another in a long line of failures. The last time a Big Ten team reached the College World Series was 1984, when Michigan won the Mideast Regional.

While some of the criticisms presented against Martin may have validity, one thing is certain: Many coaches would not have earned an Atlantic Division championship, a national seed, and a Super Regional appearance with this year’s Florida State squad.

The top four hitters from last season’s Seminoles either graduated or joined the professional baseball ranks, led by first-round draft pick James Ramsey. The 2012 ACC Player of the Year, Ramsey led the league in batting average, on base percentage, and slugging. Graduations and players going pro can be expected. However, the hits kept coming for this year’s Florida State team.

First, outfielder Stephen Spradling suffered several injuries in a skydiving accident in December, likely ending his baseball career. Pitcher Mike Compton was a NCBWA and Collegiate Baseball preseason All-American, expected to join Brandon Leibrandt atop the Florida State rotation. Less than a month before the season began, Compton underwent Tommy John surgery, terminating his 2013 campaign.

The best returning hitters for 2013 were sophomore Josh Delph and senior Justin Gonzalez. Gonzalez, the starting shortstop, was named team captain, but his season also ended early. After just five games, the Seminoles lost Gonzalez to season-ending hip surgery. Delph also missed a month of action after a bout with a viral disease that hospitalized him.

Despite all the pitfalls, Florida State kept winning. Scott Sitz and Luke Weaver made up for Compton’s absence on the mound, combining for a 2.19 ERA, 17 wins, and 199 strikeouts. Freshman DJ Stewart led the offense, batting .363 and slugging .560 with 25 doubles.

44 wins and a divisional championship later, FSU hosted the Tallahassee Regional. The Seminoles dominated, earning the chance to host the best-of-three Super Regional with Indiana. But that series went terribly, and that is all some will remember.

The majority of those people will have no idea about Compton, Delph, Gonzalez, and Spradling. These will be the people who compare Martin to Bobby Bowden, suggesting Martin should be forced into retirement.

The reality is, the Martin situation is nothing like Bowden’s. For one, Bowden was 80 years old at the time of his retirement, while Martin is only 69. When Bowden was 69, he was in his 12th consecutive season placing the Seminoles in the top five in the year-end rankings, and one year away from his second national championship.

That matches up fairly well (although not quite as favorably) with FSU baseball’s 13 Super Regional appearances and five College World Series visits since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999. Yes, Florida State baseball is still very, very good. While the Seminoles football team won the Atlantic division just once in Bowden’s last five seasons, FSU baseball has won at least a share of the division each of the last seven years.

Beyond any of those stats or observations, of course, is the understanding that this year’s Florida State exceeded expectations. Even before the numerous injuries, the Seminoles were projected to finish behind NC State in the Atlantic Division. FSU won the division by a half-game over the Wolfpack, thanks in part to winning two games against NC State in Raleigh during the regular season.

Should Mike Martin be criticized for going to 15 College World Series and never coming home with the national championship? Sure. However, there’s not many (if any) coaches performing at the same level of consistent success at the conference and national level as Martin. If anything, the success of this year’s Seminoles team despite the many challenges it faced proves Martin still has plenty left in the tank.


Our latest articles, ACC links, and threads of interest, sent right to your inbox!

Follow Inside the ACC on Twitter at @InsideTheACC. Like Inside the ACC on Facebook. Get your ACC links at ITA’s Daily NewsLink Page. Talk about ACC sports on the ITA Forums.