Before we start the discussion of our #1 hitter from 2017, let’s take a quick look at the former #1 choices:
2016- Zach Sterry, Waynesboro
2015- Shane Billings, Harrisonburg
2014- Gunnar McNeill, Staunton
2013- Jordan Tarsovich, Strasburg
2012- Jimmy Yezzo, Winchester
2011- Brad Zebedis, Strasburg
2010- Cory Spangenberg, Winchester
2009- Stephen McQuail, Front Royal
2008- Tyler Townsend, Winchester
2007- Jason Kipnis, Covington
Some years, the choice for the best hitter in the league is a tough one. In 2007, for example, ATVL waffled between Zach Greinke and Jason Kipnis for forever, it seemed, until the final choice of Kipnis was made.
This year, however, the choice was perhaps the easiest in the 11 years of listing the best that set foot in the Valley.
In what should come as exactly zero surprise, the best hitter in the 2017 Valley League season is Charlottesville’s Michael Wielansky!
Here is what Michael did for the Tom Sox in he regular season and playoffs:
Do you want to know what made Michael an easy choice for #1, Dear Reader? Michael finished 1st in the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, total bases, doubles, hits, and runs. He also tied for 3rd in RBIs, tied for 6th in home runs, and finished 3rd in triples. That’s first in 8 categories, and top five in 10.
His season was so amazing that he entered the league record book (from 2004) in 6 categories: batting average (1st), runs (tied for 4th), hits (tied for 1st), doubles (tied for 2nd), triples (tied for 10th), and total bases (6th). Holy smokes!
He was critically important to the best team in all of summer baseball (according to Perfect Game); so much so, that when the Tom Sox were given the Jim Lineweaver Trophy, Michael’s teammates sent him to receive the trophy from Commissioner Alger. A nice touch!
Michael had 5 hits in a game once, 4 hits 3 times, 3 hits 6 times, 2 hits 16 times, and had at least one hit in 39 of 44 games. He also started the season with a 14 game hitting streak. He was obviously named the league MVP, first team All-Valley at second base, and Perfect Game named him a 1st team All-American. Baseball America named him the 9th best prospect in the league, while Perfect Game pegged him at #4.
This all just added to the young man’s resume, which is already pretty full. Take a gander at what he’s done at Wooster:
So. Michael led his college team in 2016, as a true freshman, in runs, doubles, triples, home runs, stolen bases, and slugging percentage. After that season, he was named second team All-Region by ABCA and D3baseball.com. He was named first team All-Conference, and NCAC New comer of the Year.
Then as a sophomore in 2017, Michael led his college team in runs, hits, doubles, triples, home runs, batting average, slugging percentage, and even with 15 hit-by-pitches! He was named a first team All-American by ABCA, Mideast Region Player of the Year, ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove winner at shortstop, and to the College Sports Information Directors of America Academic All-District team.
All of this is amazing. Michael might have just had the best Valley League season in the past 15 years, and perhaps one of the best ever. Congratulations on your truly amazing season in the Valley League, Michael!