New Project!

Now that I’m on my second cup of coffee this morning, I find myself wanting to share the latest block of information I’m trying to complete.

Many of you don’t realize this, but the information of each season of the Valley League, from years ago, anyway, is pretty spotty. (Chaz Weaver would understand this, of course!) For example, does anyone have the list of players who participated in the league in 1994? No, it doesn’t exist.

So I’ve been working on some lists over the last few years. First of all, I have what I think is a complete list of Valley League alumni who have played in the major leagues (understanding that I’ll have to add to the list as I learn of more players) (around 200 players).

I have the list of every single player who has appeared in a Valley League game since 2004 (it’s over 4,400 names long).

I have the current list of players who are active in professional, affiliated ball (over 175 players).

I also have the list of players who have played in pro, affiliated ball since the 2006 draft, but do not any longer (over 625 players).

One of the cool things about the Valley League is how many players go on to get paid for playing baseball. That should include the Independent Leagues, right? So my latest project is to build the list of former Valley Leaguers who have played in the Indy Leagues.

I am cross-referencing several lists- current pro players (17 players also played in the Indy leagues), previous pro players (I’m in the “H’s” in my research), and I’ve used thebaseballcube.com’s list of Valley League players by team since 2010.

I have to be careful, though- thebaseballcube notoriously has errors sprinkled throughout. (I was astonished a few years ago when I sent the webpage a message about one of his entries that was incorrect (a former Valley Leaguer, of course), and the answer I received was this: sponsor the page for $10 and I’ll fix it. Whaaaaaaat? Wouldn’t you want your information to be correct whether it was sponsored or not? Anyway, I’m careful with taking the site as gospel.

So, this is where I would love to have your help. If you have knowledge of Valley League alumni who have played Indy ball, please send me a message, either as a comment on my webpage or on the Facebook page. If the player appeared in the VBL between 2010 and 2016, I probably have his name already, but not necessarily. And if the player appeared in affiliated pro ball between 2006 and 2017, I probably have that, too, but not necessarily.

I have no idea how I’m going to keep up with this list from year to year, but I’m going to give it a shot. I would rather not cross-reference all 4,400 players on my master list….

Thank you to all who can help!

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Which is the Most Successful Franchise?

I haven’t posted a holistic view of the Valley League franchises in a number of years, so it’s time.

Seven Valley League teams have been in the league since 2001: Covington, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, New Market, Staunton, Winchester, and Waynesboro. Woodstock joined in 2004, Strasburg in 2011, Charles Town/Purcellville in 2013, and Charlottesville in 2015. Several other teams were active in this time span: Luray, Haymarket/Aldie, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Rockbridge.

So which teams have the best winning percentage? Worst? Who has done the best in the playoffs? Won the most titles? The best overall?

Here’s the completely ridiculous idea. I decided to assign a point total to various achievements.

Here’s what I decided to call “Franchise Points:”

  • 1 point for a season finished at .500 or better
  • 1 point for 30+ regular season wins (sort of a bonus for a truly outstanding year)
  • 1 point for winning the regular season division title (or in the case of 2014, 2010, 2007, and 2006, winning the regular season pennant, since there were no divisions those years)
  • 1 point for losing in the first round of the playoffs (or you could call this a point for qualifying for the playoffs)
  • 2 points for losing in the semifinals
  • 3 points for losing in the finals
  • 5 points for winning the title (what we play for, obviously)

Got it? I know, it’s ridiculous, but it’s fun.

So let’s start with winning percentage, split into two sections- the “original” 7, and the rest…

 The “Original” 7 W L Pct
Harrisonburg 439 286 0.606
Winchester 401 326 0.552
Waynesboro 377 349 0.519
Staunton 374 349 0.517
New Market 363 362 0.501
Covington 338 385 0.467
Front Royal 338 388 0.466

I am not surprised at all that almost all of the teams are between .450 and .550 (roughly), but look at the Turks! They are an astounding 153 games over .500 in 17 years. Wow!

Not only are Staunton and Waynesboro close in proximity to each other, but their records are almost identical- they are only 3 wins apart.

Now the rest:

 The “Partials” W L Pct
Charlottesville 65 61 0.516
(2015-2017)
Luray 261 251 0.510
(2001-2012)
Purcellville/Charles Town 107 105 0.505
(2013-2017)
Strasburg 148 150 0.497
(2011-2017)
Fauquier 62 70 0.470
(2007-2009)
Aldie/Haymarket 222 256 0.464
(2005-2015)
Woodstock 250 351 0.416
(2004-2017)
Rockbridge 84 134 0.385
(2009-2013)
Loudoun 15 28 0.349 (2004)

It didn’t take the Tom Sox long to climb over .500, did it? Luray was very successful over its 12 years, and Strasburg and Purcellville are floating right around .500. Woodstock is 101 games under .500 in 13 years, but is still ahead of Rockbridge and Loudoun in winning percentage.

Now, let’s take a look at Franchise Points. We’ll split it into two groups again first, but because I have also averaged the number by how many seasons the team has existed, we’ll combine them in on last chart.

Team Franchise Points Avg
Winchester 52 3.06
Waynesboro 48 2.82
Harrisonburg 45 2.65
Covington 43 2.53
Staunton 34 2.00
New Market 34 2.00
Front Royal 25 1.47
  • Winchester: 6 division titles, won 3 championships (2001, 2003, 2004)
  • Waynesboro: 5 division titles, also 3 championships (2007, 2013, 2014)
  • Harrisonburg: 4 division titles, 1 championship (2012); oddly, the Turks have lost in the first round of the playoffs 12 times in the last 17 years, including the last 5 in a row
  • Covington: 3 division titles (but none since 2005), won two championships (2005, 2011)
  • Staunton: 3 division titles, 0 championships; the Braves made the finals in 2004, 2006, and 2015, but have not won a championship since 1999
  • New Market: 1 division title (2006), and one championship (2002)
  • Front Royal: 2 division titles (2009, 2015), 0 championships, one finals (2010); Cardinals won their only championship in 1986

The “partials:”

Team Franchise Points Avg
Strasburg 25 3.57
Luray 35 2.92
Charlottesville 8 2.67
Purcellville/Charles Town 10 2.00
Aldie/Haymarket 21 1.91
Rockbridge 5 1.00
Woodstock 11 0.79
Fauquier 2 0.67
Loudoun 0 0
  • Strasburg: 1 division title, 2 championships (2015, 2016). The Express did not make the playoffs in their inaugural season, and then went like this: lost in the 1st round, lost in finals, lost in semifinals, won title, won title, lost in finals
  • Luray: 3 division titles, 3 championships (2006, 2008, 2010)
  • Purcellville/Charles Town: 1 division title, 0 championships
  • Aldie/Haymarket: 1 division title (2010), 1 championship (2009)
  • Rockbridge: 0 division titles, 0 championships- Rapids made the finals in 2011
  • Woodstock: 1 division title (2013), but the River Bandits have not advanced to the finals yet as a franchise
  • Fauquier: in their 3 years of existence, the Gators did not win a division title or championship. They lost in the first round in 2008
  • Loudoun: the Rangers finished last in their only season

Let’s put them all together, what do you say?

Team Franchise Points Avg
Strasburg 25 3.57
Winchester 52 3.06
Luray 35 2.92
Waynesboro 48 2.82
Charlottesville 8 2.67
Harrisonburg 45 2.65
Covington 43 2.53
Staunton 34 2.00
New Market 34 2.00
Purcellville/Charles Town 10 2.00
Aldie/Haymarket 21 1.91
Front Royal 25 1.47
Rockbridge 5 1.00
Woodstock 11 0.79
Fauquier 2 0.67
Loudoun 0 0

What conclusions can we draw? Well, you can see the numbers for yourself. The Harrisonburg Turks are far and away the best regular season team, and with the flawed system of “Franchise Points,” Strasburg and Winchester have achieved the most.

So, what say you, Brilliant Reader?

 

2017 Park Factors, Plus 3-Year Averages

During the 2017 All-Star game day, Brandon Quaranta stepped out during the home run derby, took a deep breath, turned to the sidelines, and said, “Man, I wish we were in Strasburg right now.”

Of course, Brandon went on to win the derby rather easily, but he made an astute observation. Home runs are easier to hit in Strasburg than in Harrisonburg. Why? That’s hard to pinpoint. It could be because of the dimensions of the park. Or maybe even where the park is located- this year, someone mentioned to me that maybe Covington has high park factors because of the elevation (but according to google, Harrisonburg’s elevation is higher than Covington…). Some people believe that it’s difficult to hit home runs in Woodstock because the field is located in a “bowl,” with high banks behind the outfield fence. Charlottesville’s park is similar.

For whatever the reason, it makes sense that different parks play differently with offensive output. This isn’t basketball, after all.

But what are Park Factors? The easy explanation is that Park Factors compare what happens in each park to what happens in other parks. So the Strasburg Express hitters’ statistics, and their opponent’s statistics at home, for example, are compared to what they did on the road. Eventually, after very much calculating (and a huge amount of time), the outcome shows us which Valley League parks, for example, have more runs scored, or home runs hit, than the other parks. A final number of 100 means a neutral park. Numbers higher than 100, like 132, for example, means that 32% more of that stat happened at this park over the given time period. Numbers less, like a 68, means that 32% less of that stat occurred. Does any of this make sense? To see more of an explanation, click here to read Fangraph’s “Beginner’s Guide” to park factors.

One common question posed to me is, “But what if a team has really good pitchers? That would suppress what happens in their home park, right?” Sure, it would. But those good pitchers also pitch on the road, which means that offense would be suppressed on the road as well. And those numbers are used together.

With all this said, though, we need to remember that the sample size for this exercise is pretty small. Each Valley League teams only plays a little over 20 games a year at home, and the same amount on the road. Major league teams play four times that in just one season. So the sample size is small, which means that the numbers are not as stable. The three-year averages are a little better, but even stats over three Valley League seasons do not equal a full major league season. Keep that in mind.

Ok, are we ready? Let’s first look at the park factors for 2017. Remember, 100 is average.

2017 Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 84.37 88.07 118.78 96.42 42.42
Covington 105.56 102.85 89.67 114.77 217.37
Front Royal 91.97 87.63 113.35 7.49 108.23
Harrisonburg 103.95 96.23 98.23 379.01 81.04
New Market 74.40 86.94 78.18 172.93 78.23
Purcellville 118.28 113.04 123.10 72.95 109.42
Staunton 89.77 97.68 98.42 46.80 140.03
Strasburg 114.67 105.35 78.83 13.59 184.77
Waynesboro 110.75 113.29 112.31 168.31 38.33
Winchester 114.72 94.98 127.51 178.11 115.66
Woodstock 98.89 114.67 86.07 130.20 62.78
  • Six parks play over 100 for runs scored, and five play under. Interesting that New Market is the lowest, at 74.40, even though they had a dynamite offense in 2017. I wonder what numbers those players would have put up if they played in Purcellville’s home park, which is the highest, at 118.28.
  • Waynesboro’s and Charlottesville’s home parks are the lowest in home runs, while Covington and Strasburg are the highest. Covington’s 217.37 means 117.37% more home runs are hit in that park! 61.67% less home runs than average are hit in Waynesboro.
  • Also interesting to see how few triples are hit in Front Royal and Strasburg. There was one triple hit in Front Royal in 2017 in 1465 at-bats (by both teams), while the Cardinals and opponents hit 13 triples in 1427 at-bats elsewhere! (That triple was hit on June 15th, by Dylan Hardy, if you’re interested.)

Now let’s take a look at the three year averages. (Purcellville has been in Fireman’s Park for only two years, so their average is just from 2016 and 2017.)

 2015-2017 Runs Singles Doubles Triples Home Runs
Charlottesville 83.92 96.34 99.70 53.48 43.56
Covington 97.91 96.58 107.54 119.06 173.65
Front Royal 88.57 89.69 99.07 46.12 86.41
Harrisonburg 106.50 100.78 99.20 233.35 112.32
New Market 90.81 97.80 94.75 105.39 70.20
Purcellville 95.72 103.71 100.04 70.69 81.20
Staunton 108.53 103.54 123.29 50.43 143.50
Strasburg 106.23 91.66 95.59 78.14 225.49
Waynesboro 101.98 111.38 89.82 177.59 42.98
Winchester 119.79 102.69 139.83 166.19 162.99
Woodstock 101.32 107.24 82.74 130.04 72.75

These numbers are over a 60+ game sample.

  • Interesting that Winchester is above average in every single category, while Charlottesville and Front Royal are the opposite.
  • Look at the triples in Harrisonburg! And the home runs in Strasburg!

It would be fascinating if any of the teams used this data to build a team. Strasburg- big, powerful sluggers to play to their strength. Charlottesville and Front Royal- gappers, speedy guys… but it could play the other way, too. Strasburg should build their staff with ground ball pitchers, Front Royal could get extreme fly ball guys and populate their outfield with good defenders….

Of course, summer league GMs would probably be best served to get the best players they can, whether they fit into the park or not. One way or the other, this exercise gives us food for thought!

 

Lest You Think ATVL is Finished

The Charlottesville Tom Sox hoisted (well, initially, Michael Wielansky did, to be technical about it) the Jim Lineweaver Trophy last night. Many of the kids have gone home already. Some will go home today, while a precious few will stay a few more days to unwind after a long, hard season.

Does this mean that All Things Valley League will close up shop for the offseason?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!

This space is a year-round endeavor.

Over the next 10 months, I will be covering at least the following:

  • A list of the top hitters, starting pitchers, and relievers in the 2017 VBL season (spoiler alert- Michael Wielansky will be on the list) (And the lists are close to being ready, too. I will post on each player one by one, starting at the bottom.)
  • Park factors across the league (this one is close to being ready)
  • Minor league news (New York-Penn League All-Stars were just announced. Do you know which VBLers made the list? ATVL does…)
  • Major league news (Will Daniel Murphy get more MVP votes this year? Will Jason Kipnis and the Cleveland Indians make it back to the World Series? How about Jon Jay and Tommy La Stella and the Cubs? Brett Gardner and the Yankees?)
  • Professional players of the year at each level of affiliated ball (Rookie ball, Low-A, High-A, Double-A… etc. You get the picture.)
  • When the college season starts up again, I will be watching alumni to see who performs well during the college season in the spring
  • Top prospect lists (Like Michael Gigliotti (Covington 2015)- I would bet he’s going to be on the Kansas City Royal list)
  • And anything else that comes up.

So while we’ve finished one chapter, another one begins!

Remember to follow me on instagram @allthingsvalley (All Things Valley League), and Facebook!

 

Standings With Two Days Left

Things became much clearer last night. Several of the scenarios are gone now, so let’s take another look!

North W L Pct. GB
1 Purcellville 26 15 0.634
2 New Market 23 17 0.575 2.5
3 Strasburg 21 19 0.525 4.5
4 Winchester 20 21 0.488 6
5 Front Royal 17 24 0.415 9
6 Woodstock 14 27 0.341 12
  • Purcellville- 1 game left- @Winchester- clinched first place in North.
  • New Market- 2 games left- Woodstock, @Strasburg- 2 games in front of Strasburg for #2 in the North. One win OR one Strasburg loss will clinch 2nd place outright, but if New Market loses two and Strasburg wins out, they will tie, and the Rebs hold the tiebreaker, so they are #2.
  • Strasburg- 2 games left- @Front Royal, New Market. 1.5 games ahead of Winchester for 3rd seed. Even with two losses and a Winchester win, Express hold the tiebreaker, so they are #3.
  • Winchester- 1 game left- Purcellville- can still tie Strasburg, but the Express hold the tiebreaker. Royals are #4.
  • Front Royal- 1 game left- Strasburg- Eliminated from playoffs.
  • Woodstock- 2 games left- Strasburg, @New Market- Eliminated from playoffs.

SO IT’S SET IN THE NORTH:

#4 Winchester at #1 Purcellville
#3 Strasburg at #2 New Market

South W L Pct. GB
1 Charlottesville 31 10 0.756
2 Harrisonburg 21 20 0.512 10
3 Waynesboro 20 22 0.476 11.5
4 Staunton 19 22 0.463 12
5 Covington 13 28 0.317 18
  • Charlottesville- 1 game left- Staunton- clinched 1st in South and overall #1 seed.
  • Harrisonburg- 1 game left- Covington- with a huge come-from-behind win against Staunton last night, the Turks have clinched 2nd place.
  • Waynesboro- regular season is finished- here’s the deal. If Staunton beats Tom Sox tonight, Generals and Braves will both be 20-22, and 3-3 against each other. But the Braves will be 3-3 vs. Charlottesville, and Waynesboro finished 2-4. Therefore, IF Staunton wins tonight, Braves will be #3 and Generals #4. If the Braves lose, Waynesboro will be #3 and Staunton #4.  
  • Staunton- 1 game left- @Charlottesville- see note under Waynesboro above. It all comes down to one game! Tonight, Staunton is playing to either play the Tom Sox or the Turks in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Covington- 1 game left- @Harrisonburg. Jacks are eliminated from the playoffs.

Updated Look at the Standings and Tiebreakers (Through Tuesday, July 25)

We’re down to the last couple days in the regular season….

North W L Pct. GB
1 Purcellville 25 15 0.625
2 New Market 23 16 0.590 1.5
3 Strasburg 20 19 0.513 4.5
4 Winchester 20 20 0.500 5
5 Front Royal 17 24 0.415 8.5
6 Woodstock 14 26 0.350 11
  • Purcellville- 2 games left- New Market, @Winchester- clinched top two playoff spot, will clinch tie for first with one win or one NM loss. Can not win overall top seed.
  • New Market- 3 games left- @Purcellville, Woodstock, @Strasburg- 2.5 games in front of Strasburg for #2 in the North, 1.5 behind Purcellville for 1st. A win tonight over the Cannons will make things very interesting. One win OR one Strasburg loss will clinch at least 2nd place.
  • Strasburg- 3 games left- @Woodstock, @Front Royal, New Market. Half game ahead of Winchester for 3rd seed, still has shot at #2, but needs help.
  • Winchester- 2 games left- @Charlottesville, Purcellville- remaining games against the best teams in the league. Can catch Strasburg, but 3rd place is the best the Royals can do.
  • Front Royal- 1 game left- Strasburg- Eliminated from playoffs.
  • Woodstock- 2 games left- Strasburg, @New Market- Eliminated from playoffs.
South W L Pct. GB
1 Charlottesville 30 10 0.750
2 Harrisonburg 20 20 0.500 10
3 Waynesboro 20 21 0.488 10.5
4 Staunton 19 21 0.475 11
5 Covington 12 28 0.300 18
  • Charlottesville- 2 games left- Winchester, Staunton- clinched 1st in South and overall #1 seed. Won 30th game last night, joining 11 other teams who have won 30 regular season games since the 2001 season.
  • Harrisonburg- 2 games left- @Staunton, Covington- half game ahead of Waynesboro in the loss column, huge game vs Staunton tonight. A Turk win will clinch a top 3 finish.
  • Waynesboro- 1 game left- Covington- 1 loss behind the Turks, while a half game ahead of Staunton. One win AND one Staunton loss will clinch at least 3rd place for the Generals.
  • Staunton- 2 games left- Harrisonburg, @Charlottesville- .5 games behind Waynesboro, after big win last night. Staunton still has a shot to finish 2nd.
  • Covington- 2 games left- @Waynesboro, @Harrisonburg. Jacks are eliminated from the playoffs.

Playoff Tiebreakers

Thanks to Dave Norman, I have a digital copy of the league rules for tiebreakers. There is a strong possibility that they will have to be used this year, so let’s refresh our thinking…

Breaking Division Ties & Determining Team Seeds

a. In the event of ties, no team shall win a division or be eliminated from post-season play except as outlined below:

(1) If two or more teams are tied for first place they will be designated co-champions of the Division. If two or more teams are tied for Second Place, Third Place, or Fourth, best head-to-head record shall determine higher seeds and automatic spot in playoffs. If regular season games are even in head-to-head competition, it goes to the head-to-head against the No. 1 seed in the standings of combined divisions. If still tied it comes down the standing list head-to-head to the next highest seed in the Division standings.

(2) The President shall have the final authority in this matter.

(3) The highest seed for the Championship round shall be determined by:

(a) First: Best regular season record

(b) Second: Best record in head-to-head competition

(c) Third: It goes to the head-to-head against the No. 1 seed in the standings. If still tied it comes down the standing list head-to-head

to the team with the next best over-all League record in the standings.

H. If a tie remains in “(1), (2), (3), above, then a coin flip shall resolve.

Head-to-Head Records for Close Teams

North

New Market and Purcellville: If they tie for 1st, they will be declared co-champs (New Market leads season series, 3-1, if you’re interested)

New Market and Strasburg: Rebels lead season series, 4-1 (With one game to play)

Strasburg and Winchester: Express have won the season, 3-2

South

This is crazy.

Harrisonburg and Staunton: Turks lead series, 3-2 (But they play tonight!)

Harrisonburg and Waynesboro: Tied, 3-3

Waynesboro and Staunton: Tied, 3-3

Soooo, if the Braves beat the Turks tonight, all three season series will be tied 3-3.

If the season series is tied, the next step is head to head against the #1 overall seed, which is Charlottesville.

Harrisonburg vs Charlottesville: 2-4
Staunton vs Charlottesville: 2-3 (With one game left)
Waynesboro vs Charlottesville: 2-4

So if the Tom Sox beat Staunton, all three teams will be 2-4 against the Tom Sox! The next step, if I’m reading this correctly, will come down to records against Purcellville.

Harrisonburg vs Purcellville: 0-3
Staunton vs Purcellville: 0-3
Waynesboro vs Purcellville: 2-1

So if the above scenarios are tied, and it comes down to record against Purcellville, Waynesboro will hold the tiebreaker over the Turks and Braves. If everything remains tied to the end, it looks like a coin flip will determine the seed for Harrisonburg and Staunton.

Hopefully these things will not be necessary, right? But here you go, Brilliant Reader; if any or all of these are needed, you’ll know the situation!

 

You Guessed It: Updated Standings (Through Monday July 24)

Things are clearing up just a little bit….

North W L Pct. GB
1 Purcellville 24 15 0.615
2 New Market 22 16 0.553 1.5
3 Winchester 20 19 0.513 4
4 Strasburg 19 19 0.500 4.5
5 Front Royal 16 24 0.425 8.5
6 Woodstock 14 24 0.368 9.5
  • Purcellville- 3 games left- @Woodstock, New Market, @Winchester- clinched top two playoff spot, will clinch tie for first with one win or one NM loss. Can not win overall top seed.
  • New Market- 4 games left- Winchester, @Purcellville, Woodstock, @Strasburg- 2.5 games in front of Winchester for #2 in the North, still has slim chance at first place. If Rebs win tonight over Royals, they will clinch at least 2nd place.
  • Winchester- 3 games left- @New Market, @Charlottesville, Purcellville- 1.5 games behind NM for #2, one win ahead of Strasburg for #4.
  • Strasburg- 4 games left- Covington, @Woodstock, @Front Royal, New Market- has clinched a playoff spot. One win behind the Royals for 3rd seed.
  • Front Royal- 2 games left- @Woodstock, Strasburg- Eliminated from playoffs.
  • Woodstock- 4 games left- Purcellville, Front Royal, Strasburg, @New Market- Bandits are eliminated from the playoff chase.
South W L Pct. GB
1 Charlottesville 29 10 0.744
2 Harrisonburg 20 19 0.513 9
3 Waynesboro 20 20 0.500 9.5
4 Staunton 18 21 0.462 11
5 Covington 12 27 0.308 17
  • Charlottesville- 3 games left- @Harrisonburg, Winchester, Staunton- clinched 1st in South, clinched overall #1 seed. Will the Tom Sox equal the best record since 2004 (32-10, by the 2006 New Market Rebels)?
  • Harrisonburg- 3 games left- Charlottesville, @Staunton, Covington- 1 ahead of Waynesboro in the loss column. Close to clinching a top three spot.
  • Waynesboro- 2 games left- @Staunton, Covington- 1 loss behind the Turks, while 1.5 games ahead of Staunton. One win AND one Staunton loss will clinch at least 3rd place for the Generals (if the Generals win tonight against Staunton, in other words).
  • Staunton- 3 games left- Waynesboro, Harrisonburg, @Charlottesville- 1.5 games behind Waynesboro. Braves will need the Generals to lose 1 of their their 2 remaining games, and win out to tie. If Generals lose both, and Staunton wins out, they will steal 3rd place outright.
  • Covington- 3 games left- @Strasburg, @Waynesboro, @Harrisonburg. Jacks are eliminated from the playoffs.