League Record Book: Saves

The next category of pitchers in our 2004-2017 league record book is saves, yet another flawed stat. And to be clear, Brilliant Reader, I saw some weird stuff in the 2017 box scores regarding saves. Once, I saw a pitcher who threw the 8th inning, but not the 9th, given a save (I don’t want to go through all of the box scores to find it, so maybe it was fixed later…). I also saw at least two pitchers throw 3 shutout innings of relief, while finishing the game their team won, and not be given a save. It’s very possible I’m missing something, but….

ANYWAY, let’s take a look at official saves given….

1 Adam Zipko New Market 2013 18
2 Chris Dennis Winchester 2004 15
3 Derrik Lutz Front Royal 2004 14
4 Brandon Dickson New Market 2005 13
Joel Brookens Front Royal 2007 13
Jimmy Stanley Waynesboro 2007 13
Shawn Griffith Fauquier 2008 13
8 Bobby Hernandez Staunton 2007 12
9 Chris Fessler Harrisonburg 2005 11
Daniel Bridgeman Strasburg 2013 11

Adam Zipko crushed this list in 2013, earning 20% more saves than the previous high, set all the way back in 2004. The highest total in 2017 was shared by Purcellville’s Dalton Whitaker, Woodstock’s Jonathon Murphy, and Purcellville’s Trey Alderman, who all ended up with 5 saves. (I think managers should manage with no consideration for the save statistic, so I’m all for this trend.)

Major leagues: Brandon Dickson
Previous minor leagues: Chris Dennis, Derrik Lutz, Shawn Griffith, Bobby Hernandez, Chris Fessler
No pro ball: Adam Zipko, Joel Brookens, Jimmy Stanley (pitched in Indy Ball), Daniel Bridgeman

Adam Zipko Millersville

Zipko at Millersville


Valley Leaguers in the Playoffs

In 2015, Daniel Murphy, at 30 years old, reached the first postseason of his career. He proceeded to go off, hitting 7 home runs in his first 9 playoff games, until he cooled off in the World Series against the Royals. He exploded with a stretch of power that he had not really shown in his career to that point. I just could hardly believe it as I posted video after video of Murph going deep. It was quite a bit of fun, to say the least.

So we have to ask the question: Who might be Daniel Murphy this year? (Besides Daniel himself, obviously!)

Here are the players you can catch while watching the major league playoffs, starting Tuesday night!

  • Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (New Market 2003-4): Brett played in 151 games for the wild-card winning Yanks, hitting 264/350/428, and setting career highs in hits, home runs, and slugging percentage. He’ll most likely be starting in left field Tuesday night against Minnesota.
  • Erik Kratz, Yankees (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001): Erik was sold from the Cleveland Indians to the Yankees on August 31st. He appeared in 4 games, and appeared at bat twice (and got a hit both times). I don’t think that Erik will be on the postseason roster, but you may catch a glimpse of him in the dugout….
  • Robby Scott, Boston Red Sox (Covington 2010): Robby is probably a long shot to make the postseason roster, but he did appear in 56 games during the season, going 2-1, 3.93, and holding lefties to a 129/236/323 slash line in 62 at-bats. He may be a lefty out of the pen to get one out at some point….
  • Will Harris, Houston Astros (Staunton 2003): Will has been on the disabled list some this year, but I believe he’s healthy now. He went 3-2, 3.05 in 44 1/3 innings, along with 51 strikeouts and a 0.97 WHIP.
  • Chris Devenski, Astros (Woodstock 2011): The Dragon will most assuredly get some crucial innings for the Astros. He went 8-5, 2.68 in 80 2/3 innings, struck out exactly 100 batters, and had a 0.94 WHIP in the regular season.
  • Tyler White, Astros (Haymarket 2010): This one will be fascinating. Tyler has very quietly raked since he returned to the Astros September 2nd. He hit 298/349/561 in 57 at-bats, good for a 149 OPS+. Will he be a bat off the bench?
  • Jon Jay, Chicago Cubs (Staunton 2004): Jay played in 140 games for the Cubbies, putting up a slash line of 297/376/377. He’ll see important time in the playoffs.
  • Tommy La Stella, Cubs (Haymarket 2009): I am expecting La Stella to be an important lefthanded bat off the bench for the defending champs. In 123 at-bats, he hit 293/395/480.
  • Jason Kipnis, Cleveland Indians (Covington 2006-07): Jason has had what must have been a frustrating season because of injuries. He is supposed healthy now, though, and the Indians have played him in center field some in the last few weeks to get his bat in the lineup. Will he start in center in the playoffs? Jason hit 234/291/416 in 334 at-bats during the regular season.
  • Adam Liberatore, Los Angeles Dodgers (Waynesboro 2007-08): Adam has also struggled with injuries this season. He pitched in only 4 games for the Dodgers; therefore, I would not expect him to be active in the postseason.
  • Austin Adams, Washington Nationals (Staunton 2011): Austin made his MLB debut for the Nats on July 15th. He pitched in 5 games and struck out 7 batters in 4 innings, but he also walked 6. I doubt he’ll be on the postseason roster.
  • Daniel Murphy, Nats (Luray 2006): Daniel has put in another awesome campaign. In 143 games and 531 at-bats, he has scored 93 runs, hit 43 doubles (leading the league), 23 home runs, and driven in 93 runs. He has a 136 OPS+. He will be starting at second base as long as the Nationals are alive.
Daniel Murphy plyoff home run

Murphy with a playoff home run for the Mets in 2015

League Record Book: ERA

And now, Dear Reader, we turn our attention to the best ERAs turned in in league play from 2004-2017. Remember that everyone on this list had to qualify for the ERA title, of course.

1 Aaron Cressley New Market 2013 0.62
2 Campbell Scholl Waynesboro 2016 0.91
3 Erne Valdes Front Royal 2016 1.04
4 Daniel Thorpe Aldie 2013 1.10
Richard Winters Woodstock 2013 1.10
6 Drew Rucinski Luray 2008 1.13
7 Ben Wade Covington 2005 1.17
8 Robert Gilliam Luray 2007 1.26
Lance Baxter Staunton 2008 1.26
10 Dustin Umberger Luray 2007 1.29

Fun list. Two names are here from 2016, but the best ERA in 2017 was Purcellville’s Thomas Sutera, who finished at 1.41. The best ever was Luray’s Herb Johnson, at 0.29?

Major leagues: Drew Rucinski
Previous minor leagues: Aaron Cressley, Robert Gilliam, Lance Baxter, Dustin Umberger
Current minor leagues: None
Still in college: Campbell Scholl
No pro ball: Erne Valdes, Daniel Thorpe, Richard Winters, Ben Wade


Aaron Cressley

Aaron Cressley, from when he pitched in Eugene in 2014, I believe

#6 Hitter: Jacob Rhinesmith, New Market

Our #6 hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is New Market’s Jacob Rhinesmith!

Here is what the lefty did for the Rebels in both the regular season and the playoffs:

2017 30 122 28 45 9 2 3 33 15 18 9 1 0.369 0.438 0.549
Play 3 14 3 7 0 0 1 2 1 3 0 0 0.500 0.533 0.714

Jacob Rhinesmith Indian Hills CC 2017Jacob finished 5th in the league in batting average, 6th in OPS, 9th in on-base percentage, 6th in slugging percentage, tied for 5th in RBIs, tied for 9th in triples, and tied for 10th in doubles. He was named to the All-Valley League in the outfield.

Jacob had not only one of the hottest hitting streaks I’ve seen in the Valley, but he had two streaks that were rather jaw-dropping.

On July 15th, Jacob got off the Reb’s old white school bus hitting 291/378/443. He went 6-6 that night, along with 2 doubles, 3 runs, and 6 RBIs (easily named the hitter of the day), and then 6-11 over the next two games, raising his line to 365/430/552. Over the 3 games, he hit 3 doubles, a home run, scored 7 runs, and had 9 RBIs. In fact, that performance on July 15th may be one of the best the Valley League has ever seen.

If that weren’t enough, he had a five-game stretch from July 25 to 30 in which he went 15-27 with 9 runs, a double, 2 home runs, and 9 RBI. It seems that when Jacob is locked in, he’s exceedingly difficult to retire.

Jacob, a native of Shakopee, Minnesota, attended Indian Hills Community College, in Iowa, his first two college seasons. He has signed with Western Kentucky for the 2018 college season. Here are his stats for 2016 and 2017:

2016 50 163 26 44 4 7 5 20 25 31 5 1 0.270 0.377 0.472
2017 61 231 54 94 19 5 11 59 18 19 15 1 0.407 0.461 0.675

Just take a look at that 2017 line- Jacob hit .400, double figures in doubles and home runs, one more strikeout than walks… and he led his team in batting average, at-bats, hits, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage, and stolen bases. Wow. His production will be difficult to replace! He was named a 2nd team NJCAA All-American in 2017, and to the North All-District squad.

Jacob also left a fun keepsake with his host family when he returned home at the end of the summer- see below. Classy move!

Congrats, Jacob, and good luck at Western Kentucky!


Jacob at Indian Hills (Daily Iowegian)

Jacob Rhinesmith host family 2017

(Posted on the New Market twitter page by Zac Cole)

#9 Hitter: Jake Washer, New Market

Jake Washer ECU 2017Our 9th best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is New Market’s Jake Washer, from East Carolina!

Jake was on the leaderboard for many categories with the following statline for the Rebels:

2017 33 132 36 45 9 0 5 34 16 25 0 0 0.341 0.417 0.523
Play 3 9 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0.111 0.200 0.111

Jake finished 10th in batting average, 8th in OPS, 9th in slugging percentage, tied for 9th in total bases, tied for 3rd in RBIs, tied for 3rd in home runs, tied for 10th in doubles, and tied for 3rd in runs. Jake’s best game was on June 18, against Purcellville, when he went 4-5 with 3 runs and an RBI. He also hit 2 home runs on June 25th. The league named him 1st team All-Valley at catcher.

Baseball America named him the 7th best prospect in the league, citing his strong offensive summer, his strength, and his ability to work with pitchers.

Jake is another player who came to the Valley for at-bats, as he redshirted for the Pirates in 2016, and batted only 15 times in 2017. (He went 2-15.)

Jake did play in the Coastal Plains League in 2016- for the Holly Springs Salamanders- and performed thusly:

2016 31 102 8 27 3 0 1 13 10 18 0 1 0.265 0.336 0.324

As you can see, Jake improved his numbers across the board from one summer to the next.

With his hitting performance as a catcher, Jake should have a shot at pro ball in the future!

Jake Washer resized

Jake batting against Strasburg at home in New Market (ATVL)

Screen Shot 2017-09-15 at 12.21.44 PM

Jake at East Carolina (East Carolina)

Erik Kratz Sold to Yankees

The Cleveland Indians have sold Erik Kratz (Waynesboro 2000, Harrisonburg 2001) to the New York Yankees.
Big Erik was having quite a good year for Triple-A Columbus, not only hitting a bit, but throwing out 37% of runners attempting to steal, and also framing well.
Erik has been assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for the time being, but the thought is that he will join the big league club when/if Gary Sanchez and Austin Romine are suspended for their roles in the brawl with Detroit.
Oddly, Erik joins another catcher in Scranton with ties to theValley League. One of the other backstops is none other than Eddy Rodriguez, who played in Luray in 2005 and 2006. (And gave my daughter a baseball in New Market in 2006, in the process becoming her favorite player.)
If Erik is called up, he will also join another former Valley Leaguer- Brett Gardner, who played in New Market in 2003 and 2004.
(Erik is also a friend of ATVL, for full disclosure. He did a huge interview with this page back in 2006- you can read them here and here)
(Also see more on this deal here)
Erik Kratz throwing

Hitter #15A: Alec Aleywine, New Market

Alec Aleywine Gulf Coast CCOur #15A hitter (the numbering gets easier as we go) is the 6-foot-2, 260 pound first baseman and left handed pitcher Alec Aleywine, from Gulf Coast State!

The New Market Rebel played a very important role in the team’s first winning record in four seasons, pulling double duty both at the plate and on the mound.

And he hit very well, too. Here are his seasonal hitting stats:

2017 37 140 34 44 6 0 3 33 31 29 8 2 0.314 0.436 0.421
Play 3 12 1 5 2 1 0 1 2 2 1 0 0.417 0.500 0.750

Alex finished 10th in the league in on-base percentage, 1st in walks, tied for 5th in RBIs, 6th in runs, and was named 2nd team All-Valley at “utility” (for players who both hit and pitched). He also went 4-0, 3.82, with a 1.37 WHIP in 37 2/3 innings on the mound.

For Gulf Coast, as a freshman, Alec did this:

2017 43 152 33 48 8 0 4 27 21 34 5 0 0.316 0.401 0.447

Rather comparable to what he did in New Market! He also went 2-1, 6.26, with a 1.73 WHIP in 23 innings pitched.

Congratulations, Alec!

Alec Aleywine resized

Alec playing first base at Rebel Park