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Florida baseball picked to win SEC, five Gators make 2016 preseason All-SEC First Team

Coaches think the defending conference champions are loaded.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

It's not much of a surprise that the Florida Gators baseball team, No. 1 in the preseason version of virtually every national ranking anyone puts out, would be SEC coaches' choice to win the conference, as was announced on Thursday.

In fact, it might be more surprising that Vanderbilt — the 2014 College World Series champion and 2015 College World Series runner-up, mind — got a single first-place vote, preventing the Gators from making a clean sweep of the SEC's 14 votes ... except for the fact that coaches can't vote for their own teams to win the league, so Kevin O'Sullivan had to pick another one.

Florida comes into this season with absurd expectations because Florida's collection of talent is eye-popping and jaw-dropping. Five Gators take up six spots on named to the coaches' All-SEC First Team that only had 13 spots, and the best reason it wasn't six Gators is Florida's obscenity of riches at catcher, where Mike Rivera would start for virtually any team in the country, but is blocked by Golden Spikes watch lister JJ Schwarz.

Schwarz is a first-teamer at both catcher and designated hitter, reflecting Kevin O'Sullivan's plan to keep him in the lineup when Rivera spells him behind the plate, and joins first baseman Peter Alonso, outfielder Buddy Reed, and starting pitchers A.J. Puk and Logan Shore on the First Team. Rivera is Florida's only Second-Teamer, but that's okay: The five First-Teamers alone give Florida more preseason All-SEC performers than any other school has when combining the First and Second Teams.

Florida's 2016 baseball season begins Friday with a home series against Florida Gulf Coast. And if you're not ready for what could be a historic season yet, you should work on that.

2016 SEC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Eastern Division

No. Team Pts.
1. FLORIDA (13) 91
2. Vanderbilt (1) 78
3. South Carolina 54
4. Kentucky 53
5. Missouri 47
6. Georgia 32
7. Tennessee 30

Western Division

No. Team Pts.
1. Texas A&M (8) 85
2. LSU (5) 79
3. Arkansas 65
4. Mississippi State (1) 49
5. Ole Miss 46
6. Auburn 33
7. Alabama 28

SEC Champion: FLORIDA (13), Vanderbilt (1)

2016 SEC Baseball Preseason Coaches' All-SEC Teams

First Team
C - JJ Schwarz, FLORIDA
1B - Peter Alonso, FLORIDA
2B - Ryne Birk, Texas A&M
SS - Ryan Howard, Missouri
3B - Nick Senzel, Tennessee
OF - Nick Banks, Texas A&M
OF - Buddy Reed, FLORIDA
OF - Anfernee Grier, Auburn
SP - Alex Lange, LSU
SP - Logan Shore, FLORIDA*
RP - Zach Jackson, Arkansas

Second Team
C - Mike Rivera, FLORIDA
1B - Evan White, Kentucky*
1B - Hunter Melton, Texas A&M*
2B - Rick Nomura, Arkansas
SS - Errol Robinson, Ole Miss
3B - Will Toffey, Vanderbilt
OF - Bryan Reynolds, Vanderbilt
OF - Stephen Wrenn, Georgia
OF - Jake Fraley, LSU
DH/UT - Clark Eagan, Arkansas
SP - Tanner Houck, Missouri
SP - Robert Tyler, Georgia*
SP - Jared Poche', LSU*
RP - Ryan Hendrix, Texas A&M