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ACC Midterm Grades: Florida State

It is past the halfway mark in the ACC conference slate which means it's time for midterm grades to go out on all 14 ACC teams. We continue with the Florida State Seminoles, who currently sit 2nd in the Atlantic Division with a 10-5 record.

The ‘Noles were the last undefeated team in the country after starting the season 19-0, which included a three game sweep of Notre Dame to start ACC play. After a wake up call in Clemson that saw them blow leads in all three games, Florida State is 30-5 overall on the season with massive rivalry sweeps of in-state foes Florida and Miami.

Offense: A+

The key cogs in this lethal Florida State offense are their returning core of Cam Smith, James Tibbs III, and Jaime Ferrer. Smith, who is hitting over .400 with 19 extra base hits, is enjoying the breakout campaign that everyone expected after flourishing in the Cape over the summer. Ferrer is second on the team with 11 home runs and is responsible for protecting the most dangerous bat in the lineup, James Tibbs. Tibbs is currently the frontrunner for ACC Player of the Year. The junior right fielder is second in the ACC and ninth in the country with a .425 batting average and has 15 home runs. His 56 runs batted in are good enough to be tied for the national lead with Texas A&M’s Braden Montgomery. 

The Seminoles aren’t just a Top 5 hitting team in the country because of those core three, however. Florida State’s offense has benefited greatly from the transfer portal with the likes of Daniel Cantu, Max Williams, Jaxson West, Alex Lodise, and Drew Faurot all playing integral roles on the team. JUCO transfer Marco Dinges has been excellent as the DH and veteran catcher McGwire Holbrook has contributed whenever he plays.

Rotation: B+

Florida State’s main three of Jamie Arnold, Cam Leiter, and Conner Whittaker are a combined 16-2. The rotation is getting a B+ instead of an A- because of the absence of Leiter and Whittaker over the last few weeks. Jamie Arnold has been the best pitcher in the conference and arguably among the best in the country as he’s 7-1 with a dazzling 1.32 ERA that’s good for third in the nation. The sophomore left has 78 strikeouts in 54.2 innings and hitters are only hitting .173 against him. With the season halfway over, it’s down to him and Wake Forest’s Chase Burns in a two horse race to win the conference’s Pitcher of the Year award.

Bullpen: B+

Giving the bullpen the same grade as the rotation might be a surprise to some, especially after the Clemson series that saw the bullpen squander some huge leads. But since that disastrous series at Clemson, the Seminole bullpen has been dominant, giving up only 12 earned runs in 61.2 innings pitched, good enough for a 1.76 ERA. It should be noted that Florida State is 11-2 in the 13 games since that sweep to the Tigers.

The ‘Noles are led by a trio of talented relievers in Brennan Oxford, Andrew Armstrong, and Carson Dorsey. All three have pitched over 25 innings this season and are often the arms called up in high leverage situations. 

Overall: A

Most people expected Florida State to bounce back after a difficult 23-31 season in 2023, but few expected Link Jarrett to field what appears to be a Top 10 team with Omaha dreams. We’re just over halfway through conference play and the ‘Noles feature both the ACC Player and Pitcher of the Year frontrunners. They’ve got a big time test this weekend in Winston-Salem against #12 Wake Forest that is must-see television with a Friday pitching matchup that features the two best arms in the conference. Anyone not giving Florida State an A up to this point of the season needs to have their head examined.

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