In what is by now a tradition, ATVL is ready to begin the offseason lists. For the uninitiated, ATVL has listed the top hitters, starting pitchers, and relief pitchers in the league each offseason since 2007. (Jason Kipnis was the top hitter that year, by the way.)
Let’s talk about the parameters.
First of all, each of these batters must be eligible for the batting title, which comes out to 2.7 plate appearances per game. Christian Avant (Front Royal) and Bryson Parks (Staunton) were outstanding, but did not reach the threshold, so they will not be included in the list.
Another thing to keep in mind: I am not making predictions about the future with any of these players. This is a list that is based on statistics ONLY. It is not who will be the best pro baseball player (that list is coming later, for the first time ever). This is based only on performance. Particularly on the pitcher’s side, this can cause some confusion, because pro scouts are looking for something other than a simple, “Can he get hitters out?” They are looking for the guys who throw hard, and show the ability to spin the ball, and potential (the future, in other words). I will be looking at only performance (the past).
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 15 hitters in the 2018 season. I will count them down from #15 all the way to #1, one at a time, over the next few weeks (to give each of them a moment in the sun). After that, I will turn my attention to starting pitchers, and then to relievers. (Those starting pitchers will need an intro as well. You’ll see why later on.)
Here are the five guys that are loosely ranked #21-25. (All of these guys had excellent seasons- just not top 15)
- Kenny Oyama, Purcellville (Loyola Marymount): 309/438/368 in 136 at-bats, 28/14 BB/K ratio, 11 stolen bases
- Masen Prososki, Winchester (Louisiana-Monroe): 301/383/390 in 146 at-bats, 11 doubles, 27 stolen bases
- Clayton Jeffries, Woodstock (Lenoir-Rhyne): 339/403/407 in 118 at-bats, 12/14 BB/K ratio
- Zach Little, Harrisonburg (Wingate): 311/345/373 in 161 at-bats, tied for 3rd in the league with 50 hits, tied for 4th with 32 runs
- Kobe Lopez, New Market (Florida International): 307/403/360 in 150 at-bats, stellar 20/19 BB/K ratio, stole 9 bases
And these are the players who fell into the spots #16-20:
- Eric Conner, Staunton (Walsh): 301/347/474 in 156 at-bats, 10 doubles, 5 home runs, 29 runs, 21 RBIs (In a side note, Eric’s hitting coach at Walsh is none other than Kurt Davidson, who was one of the best hitters in the league for Waynesboro back in 2006 and 2007. He also coached in the Valley at least one year- 2009 back in Waynesboro)
- Brandon Hernandez, Staunton (Central Florida): 313/379/443 in 131 at-bats, 33 runs, 12/19 BB/K ratio, 11 stolen bases
- Christian Garabedian, Purcellville (St.Thomas): 312/396/468 in 141 at-bats, 5 doubles, 5 home runs, 32 RBIs, 17/25 BB/K ratio, and an amazing head of hair (see below)
- Kendall Small, Front Royal (Wilmington): 354/396/477 in 130 at-bats, 10 doubles, finished 8th in batting average
- Ryan Hogan, Strasburg (St.John’s): 333/432/485 in 99 at-bats, 6 doubles, 17/26 BB/K
In a few days, we will start with the 15th best hitter in the 2018 Valley League regular season!