2016 Major League Hitter of the Year

daniel-murphy-washington-headshotThis is the easiest call of all.

The Major League Hitter of the Year is, by a huge margin, Daniel Murphy (Luray 2004-05)!

Daniel signed as a free agent with the Washington Nationals in January of 2016, and then proceeded to have one of the best, if not the best, major league season of any Valley League alumni in all of history.

First, the raw numbers. In 142 games and 531 at-bats, he hit 347/390/595, with 184 hits, 47 doubles, 5 triples, 25 home runs, 5 stolen bases, 35/57 BB/K ratio, 88 runs scored, and 104 RBIs.

How did this stack up in the National League?

  • 2nd in batting average (by one percentage point)
  • 3rd in offensive WAR (Wins Above Replacement)
  • 1st in slugging percentage
  • 7th in on-base percentage
  • 1st in OPS (On-base plus slugging)
  • 5th in hits
  • 1st in doubles
  • 4th in RBIs
  • 8th in total bases

He was an All-Star. He was Player of the Month in both May and July. He won the Silver Slugger at 2B, and he finish 2nd in MVP voting (behind the very deserving Kris Bryant).

This makes it pretty easy, folks- Daniel Murphy is our Major League Player of the Year.

Past Winners:

2015- Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland Indians
2014- Brett Gardner (New Market 2003-04), New York Yankees

Others to Consider:

  • Jon Jay (Staunton 2004), San Diego- 291/339/389, 26 2B, 347 AB
  • Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), Cleveland- 275/343/469, 41 2B, 4 3B, 23 HR, 82 RBI, 15 SB, 610 AB
  • Ryan Schimpf (Luray 2008), San Diego- 217/336/533, 17 2B, 5 3B, 20 HR in 276 AB

daniel-murphy-washington-swinging

Major League Record Book: Career Home Runs

The big list. Teams are always, seemingly, searching for power. So who has hit the most career major league home runs since the 2006 draft?

1 Dan Murphy Luray ’05 87
2 Jason Kipnis Covington ’06-7 76
3 Yonder Alonso Luray ’06 39
4 Jon Jay Staunton ’04 31
5 Ryan Schimpf Luray ’08 20
6 Clint Robinson Harrisonburg ’05-6 15
7 Collin Cowgill Covington ’05 12
8 Joey Butler New Market ’06 8
Tyler White Haymarket ’10 8
10 Eric Campbell Luray ’06 7
Cory Spangenberg Winchester ’10 7

Brett Gardner Watch: 63 home runs- good for 3rd on the list

Items of Note:

  • Murphy’s lead over Kipnis is pretty small, relatively speaking (11 home runs)
  • Will Murphy AND Kipnis hit #100 in 2017?
  • Schimpf, like on the triples list, went from zero to 5th place in 220 at-bats!
  • Literally, every single member of this list is still active, although Campbell will be playing in Japan this year.
yonder-alonso-walk-off-hr-for-oakland

Yonder Alonso hitting a walk-off home run for the A’s!

Rickles Playing for Team Israel in WBC

The 4th World Baseball Classic, to be held in March of 2017, will have a familiar face from the Valley playing for Team Israel– former Luray Wrangler Nick Rickles (2010).

Nick was drafted by the Oakland A’s in 2011 in the 14th round. He played in the A’s minor league system until 2016, when he joined the Nationals’ system. He played mostly for Double-A Harrisburg last season.

This is not the only exciting thing in his life right now- I do believe that Nick is newly engaged as well!

Good luck, Nick!

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Mr. Adams Goes to Washington

austin-adams-la-angelsI love how the headlines on this site have a different slant than the “regular” baseball media. For example, the title on mlb.com is “Angels Acquire Espinosa from Nationals” with the subtitle “Pitching Prospects McGowin, Adams Headed for Washington.”

Why? Well, brilliant reader, Austin Adams played for Staunton in 2011. That’s why.

You can read the article if you want to hear about Espinosa, because here we’ll focus on Adams.

Austin is 25, and was originally picked in the 8th round of the 2012 draft by the Angels. I think it’s safe to say that he’s put up some pretty fascinating stats in pro ball.

First of all, he’s pitched in 166 games- all out of the bullpen. He’s thrown a total of 218 1/3 innings.

W-L, saves: 8-7, 11 (He’s factored in a decision in only 16% of his appearances)

WHIP: 1.342 (too high)

BB/9: 6.4 (156 walks in 218 innings is way too many)

K/9: 11.6 (Here it is! This is an amazing number. Austin has struck out 281 batters in 218 innings- which is awesome.)

Taylor Blake Ward wrote back in 2015 for scout.com that Austin is a “max-effort” pitcher, but then went on to say this:

Adams has a sick arsenal, equipped with a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup. His fastball sits primarily in the 92-95 MPH range, and has good cutting movement to it, which allows him to attack left-handed bats, and pitch away from right-handed bats.

Ward went on to admit, though, that Adams has some trouble in the “control department.”

It’s a little bit odd that the Angels traded Austin, as they had added him to the 40-man roster just a few days ago. Anyway, we’ll see how Austin fares in the Nationals’ system. Maybe he’ll be appearing in Washington in 2017!

Murphy Finishes 2nd in NL MVP Voting

daniel-murphy-washington-fist-bumpAfter one of the best statistical seasons in the major leagues from a Valley League alumnus in recent memory, former Luray Wrangler Daniel Murphy (2004-05) finished 2nd in National League Most Valuable Player voting!

Murphy is the latest to force his way into the conversation about the MVP, joining Jason Kipnis (Covington 2006-07), who finished 11th in 2013 and 16th in 2015.

Murphy didn’t seriously challenge Kris Bryant, the winner, who received 29 of 30 first place votes, but he finished a strong 2nd. Daniel got one first place vote (from Mike Puma, a New York writer (surprise!)), 11 2nd place votes, 10 for 3rd place, 6 for 4th, 1 for 5th, and 1 for 7th. He was named on all 30 ballots. His final vote total was 245, 5 points ahead of 3rd place Corey Seager. (By the way, you should spend some time looking over the voting, dear brilliant reader- some fun stuff in there.)

Daniel sure proved to earn his new free agent contract with the Nationals, hitting 347/390/595 in 142 games and 531 at-bats. He added 47 doubles, 5 triples, 25 home runs, 104 RBIs, and a solid 35/57 BB/K ratio. he set career highs in many categories: doubles, triples, home runs, RBIs, batting average (and finished 2nd in the league), on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

He certainly had a fantastic season! Congrats, Daniel!

All the Latest Transactions

Let’s take a look at transactions through December 23:

The Boston Red Sox signed Jorge Marban (Winchester 2009). Jorge was a free agent signee of the Texas Rangers in 2010, but was released after the 2011 season. He has toiled in the Indy Leagues since then. Jorge will hopefully make a full-season minor league team out of spring training this spring.

The Toronto Blue Jays signed Greg Burke (Front Royal 2001). Burke was a minor league free agent who last pitched in the majors in 2013 with the New York Mets.

The Washington Nationals signed Clint Robinson (Harrisonburg 2005-06). A lowly 25th round draft pick in the 2007 draft out of Troy, Clint has done nothing but rake in the minors. He has received two “cups of coffee” in the majors; one with the Royals in 2012, and just last season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Arizona Diamondbacks released Jake Roberts (Harrisonburg 2012). Jake was a free agent signee in late 2013, and threw 25 innings for the ‘Backs in 2014.

The Atlanta Braves released Zach Jadofsky (Woodstock 2011). Zach threw for 4 seasons in the Braves’ minor league system. He went 10-9, 4.62 in 175 1/3 innings pitched.

The Houston Astros released Pat Christensen (Harrisonburg 2011). Pat has actually been very good i nthe minors since being drafted in the 27th round in 2013. He’s gone 6-3, 3.53, with 84 strikeouts in only 81 2/3 innings.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed Ben Guez (Covington 2006), and released Andy Moye (Luray 2009). Guez was a minor league free agent who played for Toledo in Triple-A the last three years. Moye had some arm trouble last year for Double-A Huntsville, and ultimately played for four seasons in the minors.

The Texas Rangers signed Antoan Richardson (Winchester 2003). Antoan got to watch the Derek Jeter sendoff in New York last September. He also got 4 major league at-bats for the Atlanta Braves back in 2011. His Strat-O-Matic card may be quite good in 2014…

The Houston Astros grabbed Will Harris (Staunton 2003) off waivers from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Will has a real chance to help the Astros in 2015; he has a 9.7 K/9 in 99 major league innings. He misses bats!

Dickson Throws 6 No-Hit Innings

Ian Dickson Potomac 0827 2014Ian Dickson (Rockbridge 2010), fresh off giving up only 1 hit in 8 innings on August 16th, has done it again.

This time, on the 24th, Ian threw 6 no-hit innings in the second game of a doubleheader against the Frederick Keys. Pitching for the High-A Potomac Nationals, Ian also walked 5 batters, which ran his pitch total up too high, and he was taken out before the 7th inning. His reliever gave up a solo home run, so the no-hitter was lost.

For those keeping track, this means that the 6-5 righthander has given up only 1 hit and no runs in his last 14 innings pitched. For the season, he’s now 5-8, 4.54, with a 1.35 WHIP and a 47/93 BB/K ratio in 117 innings pitched.

Well done, Ian!