Well, we’ve finally made it; today we have the final matchup in the ridiculous “Greatest Hitter Ever Developed in the Valley League” competition!
But I made it clear in the beginning that you can vote for whomever you wish, and for whatever reason strikes your fancy. So maybe this is really the “Most Popular Hitter” competition?
Whatever title we give the winner, one thing is true- we have one matchup left. This one will be a little longer; the voting will run until Monday morning.
Here we go!
- John Kruk (New Market 1981) defeated Wayne Comer, Jon Jay, Yonder Alonso, and Brett Gardner. His writeup: “John Kruk is pretty well known as an interesting guy. For example, he famously said, “I ain’t an athlete, lady, I’m a professional baseball player,” and he was batting in the 1993 All-Star game when Randy Johnson fired a fastball over Kruk’s head. He was visably relieved that he wasn’t hit by the pitch, and then he promptly struck out on three pitches, much to the delight of the other players. On July 30, 1995, he reportedly told his manager that if he got a hit in his first at-bat, he was retiring. Sure enough, he singled, was lifted for a pinch hitter for his next at-bat, and Kruk never played again. (He retired with a batting average of exactly .300. If he had made an out, his career average would have been .299974.) Over ten years and 3,897 career at-bats, Kruk hit .300/.397/.446, with 199 doubles, 34 triples, 100 home runs, and an outstanding 649/701 BB/K ratio. He was a three-time All-Star, received MVP votes in those same three years, and finished 7th in the Rookie of the Year award voting in 1986. One of his best years was in 1993, when the Philadelphia Phillies surprised MLB by advancing to the World Series. Kruk hit .316/.430/.475 that summer, with 100 runs scored, 33 doubles, five triples, 14 home runs, and 85 RBIs. He walked 111 times against only 87 strikeouts. He went on to be an ESPN broadcaster after his career, and he was inducted into the VBL Hall-of Fame in 2017.”
- Juan Pierre (Harrisonburg 1997) defeated Tommy La Stella, Denny Walling, Mike Lowell, and Daniel Murphy. His writeup: “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 Monday 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!