Wednesday’s winner is Jason Kipnis; he will move on to face the winner of today.
Today we have two guys that played against each other in the VBL: Jason Michaels (Staunton 1995) vs David Eckstein (Harrisonburg 1995-96)!
- Jason Michaels beat former Luray Wrangler Eric Campbell in the play-in round to get here. This is what I wrote: “Michaels was drafted a whopping four times- in 1994, and then each year from 1996-1998. Out of the University of Miami, he finally signed after getting picked in the 4th round of the ’98 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He made the majors in 2001, and went on to be mostly a fourth outfielder for 11 seasons. Playing for the Phillies, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Houston Astros, Michaels hit a total of .263/.335/.407 in 2,332 at-bats, with 59 home runs. His high in homers was 10 in 2004. He retired in 2012. Interestingly, his grandfather, John Michaels, pitched for the 1932 Boston Red Sox.”
- David Eckstein curiously played second base for the Turks in the mid-1990’s, as he went on to be a regular shortstop for seven+ years in the major leagues. Anyway, Eckstein was a walk-on at the University of Florida, but worked his way to getting picked by the Boston Red Sox in the 19th round of the 1997 draft. The Red Sox watched him hit over .300 with many more walks than strikeouts in his first three years in the minors, but released him in 2000 when his average slipped to .245 in Triple-A. The Los Angeles Angels scooped him up, and, suddenly, in 2001 Eckstein was starting in the major leagues. He got on base at a very good clip that season, finishing with a line of .285/.355/.357 with 29 stolen bases, and finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting. The very next season he helped the Angels win the World Series by batting .310/.364/.310 in the seven games against the San Francisco Giants. In fact, 2002 was his best season at the plate- he hit .293/.363/.388 in 608 at-bats, and he finished 11th in MVP voting. In 2006, Eckstein found himself in St. Louis, and helped the Cardinals reach the postseason by hitting .292/.350/.344 in 500 at-bats, but he really shone in the World Series against the Detroit Tigers, hitting .364/.391/.500 and snagging the MVP award. Eckstein was an All-Star in 2005 and 2006, received more regular-season MVP votes in 2005, and set the record for most consecutive games at second base without an error, with 113. (The record has since been broken.) He finished his career in 2010 in San Diego, retiring with career numbers of .280/.345/.355 in 5,041 at-bats, with 232 doubles, 20 triples, 35 home runs, 392 RBIs, 123 stolen bases, and 376 walks against only 418 strikeouts.
Vote by going to twitter.com/JohnATVL! (Closes Friday morning)
And by the way, if you want to read much, much more about the 2019 VBL season, be sure to check out the 2019 Valley League Annual!