Today's 11-4 victory over Western Carolina was the perfect example.
First baseman Andrew Giobbi roped a clutch, two-run double in the right-centerfield gap with two outs in the bottom of the first. Centerfield David Macias, known more for getting hit by pitches and laying down well-placed bunts, homered over the wall in left in the second, and catcher Curt Casali added his first career round-tripper in the third.
"If myself and Casali, who's tearing the cover off the ball right now, can keep this going," Giobbi said, "and once we get Pedro back and once (de la Osa) and (Flaherty) get going, it's going to be pretty scary."
Alvarez, the Preseason National Player of the Year, has been sidelined since the season opener after breaking a bone in his right hand. De la Osa and Flaherty, meanwhile, are hitting a combined .276 with six extra-base hits and 19 RBIs, making the Commodores' 10-3 start and top-10 national ranking all the more impressive.
While the lineup certainly has a different feel without Alvarez in the middle of it, Macias said the players haven't changed their approach in his absence.
"The (offensive) identity is for other people to think about," Macias said. "We don't really think about anything. The leadoff guys try to get on base and then everyone else just tries to bring them in."
That simple mindset has worked well for Macias, who's hitting .397 from the leadoff spot. He also has six extra-base hits and a team-high 14 runs. Right behind him in the lineup is fellow senior Alex Feinberg, who has a robust .435 average to go along with 11 RBIs.
In the five-hole is Giobbi, the catcher-turned-first baseman who has thrived in his first season as an everyday player. The biggest reason for his improvement?
"Confidence," he said. "I worked a lot on the mental aspect of the game. All the tools are there, but it was just that one X-factor...I do a lot of visualization the night before. My pre-bat routine starts the night before now and it's been a big help for me."
The redshirt sophomore currently leads the team in batting average (.442), doubles (seven) and slugging percentage (.605).
"Over at first base, I'm getting a lot more comfortable," Giobbi said. "Last year was kind of a circus over there. As for playing every day, I still try to keep that grinder mentality. I want to scrap out there."
Scrappy is probably the perfect way to describe infielder Brian Harris, who has filled in admirably for Alvarez at third base. Harris has not committed an error and is hitting .429 with three doubles, which is two more than de la Osa.
"Obviously losing Pedro is huge," Giobbi said. "You can't replace a player like that, but Brian Harris has stepped in and just done his job."
They all have, which is why there are plenty of reasons to be excited for the Commodores' Southeastern Conference opener Friday night against South Carolina (Hawkins Field, 6 p.m.).
"We're winning ballgames," Giobbi said, "and that's all that really matters."
-Jarred Amato is a junior at Vanderbilt University and also writes for "The Sports VU" (http://sportsvu.blogspot.com/). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.