Yesterday, John Kruk defeated Brett Gardner to advance to the final match. Today, we have the other semi-final, former Luray Wrangler Daniel Murphy against former Harrisonburg Turk Juan Pierre.
- Murphy defeated Gaby Sanchez, Reggie Sanders, and Jason Kipnis so far. His writeup: “There is a legend about Daniel Murphy. The story goes that when he went to Jacksonville University as a freshman, everyone took turns introducing themselves. Supposedly, when it was his turn, Murphy said, “I’m Daniel Murphy. I hit third.” That showed a focus and confidence in his bat that has served him well in his MLB career. Drafted pretty late, in the 13th round in 2006 by the New York Mets, Murphy hit his way to the majors, making his debut in 2008. After splitting his time between the outfield and first base in 2009 for the Mets, he missed 2010 to a knee injury. Returning in 2011, he settled in at second base for the next few years. In 2015, Murphy exploded onto the national scene when he went nuts in the NLDS against the Dodgers, homering three times in five games, and then hit .529/.556/.1.294 in a four-game sweep against the Cubs in the NLCS, winning the MVP and driving the Mets to the World Series. He signed with the Washington Nationals for 2016, and went on to have his best season in his career, hitting .347/.390/.595 in 531 at-bats, with 47 double, five triples, 25 home runs, and 104 RBIs. He was an All-Star, won the Silver Slugger award, and finished second in MVP voting. He went on to have another excellent season in 2017, again making the All-Star game, winning the Silver Slugger, and earning MVP votes (he finished 19th). He was traded to the Chicago Cubs in August of 2018, signed with the Colorado Rockies before the 2019 season, and was back with the team for 2020 when the season was halted. He won two Player of the Month awards- May and July of 2016- and led the National League in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and doubles in 2016. He won another double “title” with 43 in 2017 as well. In his career up to this point, he’s hit .298/.343/.458 in 5,185 at-bats, with 368 doubles, 29 triples, 135 home runs, and 719 RBIs.”
- Pierre scooted past Tommy La Stella, Denny Walling, and Mike Lowell to get here. “The 1998 Sun Belt Player of the Year for South Alabama, Juan Pierre was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 13th round that June. He made quick work of the minor leagues, being named an All-Star in 1998 in Low-A, in 1999 in High-A, and in 2000 in Double-A. He made his major league debut on August 7, 2000, and hit .310/.353/.320 in 200 at-bats, finishing 6th in Rookie of the Year voting. He started a stretch of seven straight seasons in which he played at least 152 games in 2001, and hit .327/.378/.415, with 26 doubles, 11 triples, and leading the league with 46 stolen bases. He was traded to the Florida Marlins in November, 2002, and helped lead the Fish to a World Series title in 2003. He spent a year in Chicago with the Cubs in 2006, then spent three years with the Dodgers in LA, two back in Chicago with the White Sox, and then single years with the Phillies in 2012 and back in Miami to finish his career in 2013. In 7,525 career at-bats, Pierre hit .295/.343/.361, with 255 doubles, 94 triples, 614 stolen bases, and an almost-even 464/479 BB/K ratio. He lead the league in stolen bases three times, in hits twice, triples once, singles six times, and received MVP votes twice. He also set a record for the best fielding percentage in a full season, after not committing a single error in 162 games in the outfield in 2006. Pierre was the minor league outfield coordinator for the Marlins in 2019, and was named to the Valley League Hall of Fame that same year.”
Vote by going to twitter.com/JohnATVL! (Closes Saturday 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!