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

Results from Thursday July 20

Five games, with another doubleheader for C-ville….


Charlottesville 5, Purcellville 3 (7 innings, game 1)
Charlottesville 4, Purcellville 0 (7 innings, game 2)
Harrisonburg 4, Front Royal 3
Winchester 7, Staunton 5
Woodstock 6, Covington 5

Hitter of the Day

Jared McDonald Grand Canyon 2017Our hitter of the day is Front Royal’s Jared McDonald, from Grand Canyon (and soon to be Western Oregon)! Jared went 3-3, with a run, 2 RBIs, 2 doubles, a hit-by-pitch, and a home run. He is now hitting 284/366/457 in 116 at-bats this summer, with 8 doubles and 4 home runs.

Others of Note

Keenan Bell, Charlottesville: 2-3, 2 runs, RBI, 2 2B
Brandon Johnson, Charlottesville: 3-3, 3 RBIs
Steven Carpenter, Charlottesville: 3-4, run, 2 2B
Joe Lytle, Harrisonburg: 3-4, run, 3 RBIs, 2B, HR
Cody Wilson, Winchester: 2-5, 2 RBIs, 2 2B
Alejandro Rivero, Winchester: 2-3, BB, HBP, SB
Max Wood, Staunton: 3-5, 2B, SB
Austin Edens, Staunton: 2-2, 3 runs, HBP
Lee Clark, Covington: 3-5, run, RBI
Ryan Alvarez, Covington: 2-4, run, BB

Pitcher of the Day

Our POD is Charlottesville’s Rick Spiers, from Randolph Macon, who threw 5 shutout Rick Spiers Charlottesville 2017innings in game 2 of the Tom Sox’s doubleheader. He allowed 2 hits, 0 walks, and struck out 6 for a game score of 69. Rick is now a ridiculous 4-0, 0.81, with 25 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched this summer.

Others of Note

Sean McCracken, Charlottesville: 6 Ip, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K’s, win (56)
Ryan Leckich, Front Royal: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K’s (59)
Rhett Willis, Harrisonburg: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K, win
Trent Spikes, Woodstock: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s
Eric Rosenberg, Covington: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K’s

Friday’s Games

Woodstock at Strasburg
Charlottesville at Covington
Front Royal at Purcellville
New Market at Winchester
Waynesboro at Staunton


Results from Sunday, July 2


Charlottesville 3, Staunton 2
Strasburg 6, Woodstock 2
Covington 3, Waynesboro 2
Harrisonburg 5, Winchester 4
Front Royal 8, New Market 2

Hitter of the Day

Our HOD is Turner Buis, from Strasburg and Coastal Carolina! Turner went 3-4 last night,Turner Buis Coastal Carolina 2017 with a run, 4 RBIs, and a home run. He’s now hitting 211/385/310 in 71 summer at-bats.

Others of Note

Caleb Walls, Covington: 3-4, 2 SB
Dillon Reed, Winchester: 3-5, run, 3B
Cody Wilson, Winchester: 3-4, 2 runs, RBI, BB, 2B, SB
Hunter Seay, Harrisonburg: 3-4, run, RBI
Ty Andrus, Harrisonburg: 1-2, 2 runs, RBI, 2 BB, SB
Jared McDonald, Front Royal: 2-4, 3 RBIs, BB
Blake Thomas, Front Royal: 3-4, 2 runs, RBI, 2B, 3B

Pitcher of the Day

Rick Spiers Randolph Macon 2017Our POD is Charlottesville’s Rick Spiers, from Randolph Macon! Rick threw 5 shutout innings yesterday, allowing only 1 hit, 0 walks, and striking out 5. It was his first start of the season, and his game score, 70, is tied for the 13th highest in the league this summer. Overall, he’s now 3-0, 0.69 in 13 innings, with 16 strikeouts.

Others of Note

Zachary Peek, Strasburg: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K’s, win (58)
PJ Piesko, Covington: 5 Ip, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K’s, win (62)
Mason Studstill, Harrisonburg: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K’s, win (57)
Ryan Ruggles, Front Royal: 7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K’s, win (64)

Monday’s Game

Covington at Harrisonburg

Results, Hitter, Pitcher of the Day, Friday June 2

And we’re off! This is the plan- each day, ATVL will “cover” the previous night’s games- giving final scores, and then choosing a hitter and pitcher of the day, and ending with that night’s schedule. The pitcher is usually chosen by game score, and the hitter by a more nebulous interior monologue. Sometimes exterior, even.

Each winner will be followed with other performers “of note.” Enjoy!

Results from Friday, June 2

Winchester 7, Front Royal 5
Charlottesville 14, Covington 2
Waynesboro 10, Woodstock 4
Staunton 2, Harrisonburg 1
Purcellville 1, New Market 0 (I attended this one. Pictures coming later today)

Hitter of the Day

Rick Spiers Randolph Macon 2017Our very first hitter of the day is Charlottesville’s Rick Spiers, from Randolph Macon! Rick went 3-6 against the Lumberjacks, with 3 runs, an RBI, and a home run. An excellent VBL debut for the D-III top performer.

Others of Note

Ari Sechopoulos, Charlottesville: 1-3, run, 2 RBIs, 2B, 3 BB, SB
Alex Reynolds, Winchester: 4 walks!
Lorenzo Hampton, Winchester: 2-3, 2 runs, RBI, BB, 2B, SB
Danton Hyman, Woodstock: 1-2, 2 runs, 3 BB, SB
Eric Crain, Woodstock: 1-2, run, 2 RBIs, 3 BB, 2B
Andrew Robinson, Waynesboro: 1-1, 4 runs, 4 BB, 2 SB
McClain Bradley, Waynesboro: 3-4, 2 runs, BB
Luke Robinson, Waynesboro: 2-4, run, 3 RBIs, HR

Pitcher of the Day

Our first pitcher of the day is New Market’s Nathan Pawelczyk, from Winthrop, who Nate Pawelczyk Winthrop 2017fired 6 no-hit innings against Purcellville, while walking 2 and striking out 3. He earned a game score of 73. He threw only 61 pitches in those 6 innings! Quite the start for the only returning Rebel player.

Others of Note

Austin Higginbotham, Charlottesville: 6 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K’s, win (66)
Preston Betz, Charlottesville: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K’s
Francisco Fernandez, Covington: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K’s
Payton Kinney, Waynesboro: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K’s, win (56)
Rhett Willis, Harrisonburg: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K’s (70)
Deacon Medders, Staunton: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K’s (66)
Dean Stramara, Staunton: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K’s
Alex London, Purcellville: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K’s (63)
Thomas Sutera, Purcellville: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K’s, win

Tonight’s Games

Front Royal at Woodstock
Winchester at Purcellville
Charlottesville at Waynesboro
Covington at Staunton
Strasburg at New Market