League Record Book: Batting Average

One of the things ATVL does in the offseason is take a look at the “league record book,” which is a list of the top performers SINCE 2004. (That’s an important distinction, by the way. Stats from before that were unavailable, so I use what I have.)

These stats also include playoff numbers, but do not include the all-star game or any showcase events.

So let’s get started, shall we? Today we’ll have what might be the most interesting category, since three 2017 VBLers crashed this list- batting average!

1 Michael Wielansky Charlottesville 2017 0.428
2 Brad Zebedis Strasburg 2011 0.420
3 Julian Ridings Waynesboro 2012 0.419
4 Luke Greinke Winchester 2007 0.417
5 Gunnar McNeill Staunton 2014 0.414
6 Shane Billings Harrisonburg 2015 0.406
7 Jordan Tarsovich Strasburg 2013 0.405
8 Dominic Canzone Front Royal 2017 0.404
9 Cory Spangenberg Winchester 2010 0.399
10 Joe Kemp Harrisonburg 2004 0.396
11 Blake Sipe Staunton 2012 0.396
12 Max Wood Staunton 2017 0.389
13 Mike Garza Woodstock 2010 0.388

(By the way, I am adding players without deleting any, so some of the lists will have more than 10. I’m trying to build the lists back up to 20, if possible. It’s more interesting with more names, wouldn’t you say?)

Three 2017 players grabbed spots on the list; Michael Wielansky, obviously #1, #8 Dominic Canzone, and #12 Max Wood. We now have 8 Valley Leaguers who have hit .400 or better in the last 14 years.

We have one major leaguer on this one: Cory Spangenberg (San Diego Padres). Two more players are currently in affiliated ball: Shane Billings, who is playing in the Cardinals’ system for Palm Beach in the high-A Florida State League, and Jordan Tarsovich, in Double-A for the Oakland A’s system.

Four more players were in affiliated ball, but are no longer. They are #3 Julian Ridings, #4 Luke Greinke, #10 Joe Kemp, and #13 Mike Garza.

The last three, ones who did not play affiliated ball, are #2 Brad Zebedis, #5 Gunnar McNeill, and #11 Blake Sipe (who is playing in the Rockingham County Baseball League). Zebedis hit 328/402/501 in four years at Presbyterian, and also hit 303/363/424 in the Cape Cod League in 2012… and didn’t get drafted. Hard to believe.

By the way, Chaz Weaver lists the highest batting average in the history of the VBL as .466, by Lou Meadows, who played for Staunton in 1981.

Wielansky resized

Michael Wielansky, our new leader of the batting title record book! 

 

 

The Top Hitters of 2017, An Introduction

Ladies and gentlemen, we are just about to start the list of the top hitters in the Valley League in the 2017 season!

First of all, let’s talk about some parameters.

The first qualification is that each of these hitters has to be eligible for the batting title, which comes out to 2.7 plate appearances per team game. Harrisonburg’s Tony Beam and Waynesboro’s Malik Stephens, for example, had very good seasons in the Valley, but they did not reach the threshold.

Another thing to keep in mind: I am not making predictions about the future with any of these players. Why not? Because I DON’T KNOW. I AM NOT A SCOUT. I can’t tell you who has the smoothest swing or the fastest batspeed, or who is a lock to get drafted next June. I am going off of statistics only. I’ve been asked in the past, “Wouldn’t a list of the best hitters be better than just looking at the stats?” Yes, it would (I think). But I can’t do that, so I do what I am able. (Besides, Baseball America does the other kind of list, and lots of people are frustrated with them, too, because the “big names” get more attention than others, who might be performing better.)

With that said, I have had to parse some differences between players, as you might imagine. If I decided on just OPS (on-base plus slugging), then my list would be no different than what you could sort on the Valley League stat page. I try to use the whole package to rank the players. So I use batting average (the horror!), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and even counting numbers to determine where a player has landed. (So if a player didn’t play as much as someone else, that would matter to a certain extent.)

Also keep in mind that I do this to celebrate players, not to denigrate anyone else. These players are amateurs, and I have no interest in putting any of them down for whatever reason. This space is to celebrate the accomplishments of these young men.

Remember that this list is only one person’s opinion. You may rank your favorite player much higher than I have, and that’s fine. You may comment about your displeasure, of course (free country), but again, I will not denigrate a player in this space. If you would like to have a private discussion in my email or inbox about my reasons for picking one player over another, that’s cool. Do remember, though, that I have spent quite a bit of time ordering these lists. I’m satisfied with how they look.

Is all that clear?

So. I have listed who I believe are the top 16 hitters in the 2017 season (I couldn’t decide between the last two, so I decided to include them both). I will count them down from #15B all the way to #1, one at a time, over the next few weeks. After that, I will turn my attention to starting pitchers, and then to relievers.

Here are the hitters who were close to making the list, but fell just short (in alphabetical order):

  • Ty Andrus, Harisonburg: 348/413/374 in 155 at-bats, 54 hits, 29 runs, 11 RBIs, 2 triples, 17/9 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Zac Evers, Waynesboro: 283/366/520 in 127 at-bats, 24 runs, 19 RBIs, 8 doubles, 5 triples, 4 home runs, 15/39 BB/K, 17 SB
  • Jacob Hirsh, Strasburg: 318/431/449 in 107 at-bats, 30 runs, 14 RBIs, 3 doubles, 1 triples, 3 home runs, 18/21 BB/K, 10 SB
  • Jake Perry, Strasburg: 313/413/481 in 131 at-bats, 21 runs, 18 RBIs, 13 doubles, 3 home runs, 21/42 BB/K
  • Rick Spiers, Charlottesville: 333/391/487 in 117 at-bats, 28 runs, 19 RBIs, 5 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs, 10/24 BB/K, 8 SB
  • Chase Suddeth, New Market: 324/424/456 in 136 at-bats, 30 runs, 25 RBIs, 10 doubles, a triple, 2 home runs, 22/20 BB/K, 9 SB

Finals Game Three: Charlottesville 2, Strasburg 1

Many were expecting an easy Tom Sox coronation this evening, as the Strasburg Express were down to three available pitchers, but the announced crowd of 2,154 fans (incredible!) were treated to a nip-and-tuck game that could have gone either way.

Tied 1-1 since the 4th inning, and even though both teams had baserunners on almost every inning, it wasn’t until 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, when Michael DeRenzi’s chopper up the middle eluded the grasp of shortstop Sean Scales, scoring league MVP Michael Wielansky, that the Tom Sox grabbed the lead for good.

Tom Sox’s Rick Spiers, who came in the game with the bases loaded in the 7th with Brandon Quaranta due up, pitched out of the initial jam (with a nifty play on a comebacker), and then pitched out of more trouble in the 9th, finally getting Jeffrey Butler to ground back to the mound to end it and send the Tom Sox faithful home happy.

The Express initially grabbed the lead with a run in the 3rd inning when Turner Buis reached on an error, went to third on another error, this time on a Quaranta batted ball, and scored on a Jake Perry single.

The Tom Sox answered back in the 4th, when Kyle Battle hit a one-out double, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on an error. That score stood, with tons of drama, until the 8th.

Spiers is the winning pitcher, while Quaranta, the last remaining pitcher for the Express, was saddled with the loss. The Tom Sox mustered just 6 hits, but walked 9 times. The Express were led by Tyler Halas’s and Turner Buis’s 2 hits apiece.

In their third year of existence, the Tom Sox won their first ever Jim Lineweaver trophy in a season that saw the team lead the rest of the league almost from day one. The team finished 32-10 in the regular season, and then went 6-1 in the playoffs. The team changed the title of their Facebook page very quickly after the game from “Charlottesville Tom Sox” to “2017 Valley Baseball League Champion Charlottesville Tom Sox.” Indeed they are.

Manager of the year Corey Hunt said after the game, “I’m just proud of my guys. From the first day they got here to the last out, they’ve worked hard, and come together as a group. It means a lot to them, coming here, away from home, playing 40-some odd games with some guys that you may not know… for me, selfishly, it’s been a great ride.”

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Manager of the Year

The League’s press release naming Charlottesville’s Corey Hunt the Manager of the Year….

Charlottesville’s Corey Hunt has been named the Maynard “Mo” Weber Manager of the Year in a league vote.

Hunt led the Tom Sox to a dominant 32-10 record in his first year as a VBL head coach, and just the third season of the Tom Sox franchise.

The South pennant winning roster included VBL Player of the Year Michael Wielansky, eight South Division All-Stars, six total selections to the VBL’s Showcase All-Star team, and six All-VBL selections. He coached four different NCAA D-III players to All-Star or first team All-League recognition.

Charlottesville swept the past two pennant winners, Staunton and Waynesboro, in the South playoffs. They are trying to stave off elimination tonight however, after dropping Game 1 of the finals to defending champs Strasburg.

Currently the head coach at nearby Monticello High School, Hunt also played locally at MHS and the University of Virginia.

While at the University of Virginia, Hunt batted .337 in 101 career at-bats, which included 27 runs scored and 19 RBIs. In 2011, Hunt scored the winning run of the Charlottesville Super Regional, to send the Cavaliers to the College World Series. He coached the Monticello Mustangs to the 3A state semifinals in 2015.

The Maynard “Mo” Weber Coach of the Year Award was established in 2008. An educator and businessman, Weber coached baseball for more than 65 years. He was head coach at The College of William and Mary from 1964-65 and again from 1978-1981. When Weber stepped down from his coaching position in New Market at the age of 88 in 2011, his jersey, No. 1, was also retired. He was inducted into the Valley League Hall of Fame this summer.

Charlottesville plays for the franchise’s first VBL championship tonight!

Playoff Results for Sunday July 30

Four games last night. Two teams were eliminated from the playoffs…

Scores

Waynesboro 5, Harrisonburg 3 (Generals win series, 2-0)
Purcellville 5, Winchester 3 (Cannons up 1-0)
Strasburg 14, New Market 6 (Series tied 1-1)
Charlottesville 10, Staunton 5 (Tom Sox win series, 2-0)

Hitter of the Day

Michael DeRenzi Charlottesville 2017Our hitter of the day is Charlottesville’s Michael DeRenzi, from Georgetown, who went 3-5, with 2 runs, 3 RBIs, a double, and a home run against the Braves. Michael hit 271/313/356 in 59 regular season at-bats, and this was his playoff debut.

Others of Note

Bryan Arias, Harrisonburg: 3-4, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Reid Long, Waynesboro: 3-4, 2 runs, RBI, 3B
Dakota Robbins, Waynesboro: 2-4, 3 RBIs
Nolan Ritchie, Purcellville: 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 3-6, run
Michael Neustifter, New Market: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs, HR
Sean Scales, Strasburg: 4-6, run, RBI
Jake Perry, Strasburg: 2-4, 3 runs, 2 BB, 2B
Tyler Martin, Strasburg: 2-5, 3 runs, 3 RBIs
Philip Madonna, Strasburg: 2-4, 5 RBIs, 2B, 3B, HBP
Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville: 2-5, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Ari Sechopoulos, Charlottesville: 2-4, 2 runs, RBI, BB, HR
Cole Migliorini, Charlottesville: 3-5, run, 2 RBIs, 2B
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, RBI, BB, 2B

Pitcher of the Day

We’ve seen many, many excellent pitching performances, but I’m not sure we’ve seen Tom Sutera Siena 2017anything like this: Purcellville’s Tom Sutera, from Siena, struck out 11 Winchester batters in a row last night! He threw 4 innings, and gave up a fly ball, and struck out 11. Amazing. He was amazing in the regular season, too, going 6-0, 1.57 in 34 1/3 innings.

Others of Note

Grant Suponchick, Waynesboro: 7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K’s, win (56)
Kirk Maddox, New Market: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K’s in relief
Dylan Hall, Strasburg: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K’s, win (61)

Tonight’s Games

Strasburg at New Market, game 3 (I’m planning on attending this one)
Purcellville at Winchester, game 2 (Cannons up 1-0)
Waynesboro at Charlottesville (Semi-finals game 1)

Playoff Results, Saturday July 29

Three game ones were played last night, with the contest between Winchester and Purcellville rescheduled for tonight.

Scores

Waynesboro 2, Harrisonburg 1 (See my writeup here) (Generals up, 1-0)
Charlottesville 11, Staunton 2 (Tom Sox up, 1-0)
New Market 5, Strasburg 4 (Rebels score a shocking 4 runs in the bottom of the 9th, all unearned, all with 2 outs, to stun the Express) (Rebels up, 1-0)

Hitter of the Day

Ari Sechopoulos Charleston 2017Our HOD is Ari Sechopoulos, from Charlottesville and Charleston! Ari went 3-5 in the Tom Sox’s first p[layoff win in franchise history, with 2 runs, 3 RBIs, a double, and a home run.

Others of Note

Joe Lytle, Harrisonburg: 4-4, run, 3B
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville: 2-3, 3 runs, RBI, BB, SF, SB
Vinnie Pasquantino, Charlottesville: 2-4, run, 2 2B, HBP
Eric Jones, Charlottesville: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B
Jeffrey Butler, Strasburg: 3-4, RBI
Philip Madonna, Strasburg: 3-3, RBI, BB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, RBI, HR
Alec Aleywine, New Market: 3-5, run, RBI, 2B, 3B, SB
Chase Sudduth, New Market: walk off RBI single in the bottom of the 9th

Pitcher of the Day

Waynesboro’s Payton Kinney, from Nebraska-Omaha, threw a complete game against thePayton Kinney NEbraska Omaha 2017 Turks, allowing only 6 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and striking out 4. He earned a game score of 74.

Others of Note

Matt Young, Harrisonburg: 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s, loss (62)
Justin Sorokowski, Charlottesville: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K’s, win (66)
Ben Dum, Strasburg: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K’s (66)

Tonight’s Games

Charlottesville at Staunton (God willing, I’ll be at this one)
Harrisonburg at Waynesboro
New Market at Strasburg
Winchester at Purcellville

Results from Thursday, July 27

Even with the rain, all games carried on…

Scores

Covington 2, Harrisonburg 0
Charlottesville 9, Staunton 4
Winchester 10, Purcellville 2
Strasburg 11, Front Royal 7
New Market 11, Woodstock 6

Hitter of the Day

Kyle Battle ODU 2017Our HOD is Charlottesville’s Kyle Battle, from Old Dominion! Kyle went 3-3 last night, with 3 runs, 3 RBIs, a walk, double, and home run. Kyle finished the regular season at 244/298/309 in 123 at-bats.

Others of Note

Caleb Walls, Covington: 2-3, run, BB, SB
Jat Charleston, Staunton: 2 stolen bases, giving him 39 for the year: according to both my records and Chaz Weaver’s, this is the most in the history of the VBL!
Max Wood, Staunton: 2-4, run, 2 RBIs, HR, ended regular season with a 21-game hitting streak
Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville; 2-4, run, 2 RBIs, 2 2B, ended regular season with a .432 batting average!
Dillon Reed, Winchester: 1-3, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, 2 BB, 2B
Alex Reynolds, Winchester: 2-4, 3 RBIs, HBP
Alejandro Rivero, Winchester: 2-4, run, BB, 2B
Seth Woodard, Winchester: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 BB
Turner Buis, Strasburg: 3-4, 2 runs, BB
Kenny Bergmann, Front Royal: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR
Connor Golden, Woodstock: 2-3, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 HRs
Jordan Braniff, Woodstock: 2-4, run, 2B, 3B
Blake Reese, New Market: 2-3, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, 2 BB, HR, 2 SB
Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 3 RBIs, HR
Jake Washer, New Market: 3-5, 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 2B, HR

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Covington’s Reed McNeer, from Concord! Reed went 6 shutout innings against Reed McNeer Concord 2017the Turks while allowing 4 hits, 0 walks, and striking out 3. He’s now 2-1, 6.75 over 13 1/3 innings this summer. I believe Reed is transferring to West Virginia Tech this fall.

Others of Note

John Gregory, Harriosnburg: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s, loss (54)
Robert Bamford, Winchester: 6 .IP, 5 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K’s, win in relief
Jackson Ray, Strasburg: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s

Friday Night’s Game

New Market at Strasburg (I really wonder if this game will be played. It has no bearing in the standings… and it may rain, too)

PLAYOFFS START SATURDAY! (Playoff update coming soon)