It seems to be a little bit odd to start our series with two teams from 2004, but, weirdly, the two best teams from that year tied in difference between league and team slash lines. So here we go-
Team 10B: 2004 Winchester Royals
The ’04 Royals went 29-15, finishing six games ahead of both Luray and New Market in the North. The team then ran through the playoffs, defeating Front Royal two games to none in round one, Covington three games to one in round two, and then Staunton two games to one in the finals. The team was a bit of a mini-dynasty, as this title was the franchise’s third in four years. But the Royals have not claimed a title since.
As a team, the Royals hit .281/.357/.402, compared to the league’s .247/.335/.349. That puts the team at +109, tied with the 2004 Harrisonburg Turks for 10th best. The Royals finished second in batting average and on-base percentage, and first in slugging. Only Front Royal ended with more home runs (46 to 42), and only Staunton had more doubles (85 to 81). The team scored the most total runs, and 5.9 runs per game, second only to the Turks (6.3 per game).
- Jeremy Terni, Southern Connecticut: The co-MVP of the league (Front Royal’s Jon Love is the other) hit .364/.403/.648 in 162 at-bats, with eight doubles, a triple, 12 home runs, 54 RBIs, 105 total bases, and an 11/22 BB/K ratio. He finished tied for third in the league in hits, first in RBIs, second in home runs (behind Love), and third in batting average.
- Bruce Sprowl, LSU: .340/.427/.495 in 200 at-bats, with 46 runs scored, 13 doubles, six home runs, an awesome 25/19 BB/K ratio, and 21 stolen bases. He led the league in hits, tied for first in runs scored (Love again), finished third in stolen bases, and fifth in batting average.
- Kyle Walter, Bucknell: .308/.368/.487 in 156 at-bats, with 30 runs scored, nine doubles, two triples, five home runs, and nine stolen bases.
- Jared Rolen, West Georgia State: .306/.421/.476 in 124 at-bats, with nine doubles, four home runs, and ten hit-by-pitches.
- Derek Sain, Auburn: .337/.410/.413 in 104 at-bats, with five doubles and seven stolen bases. He finished seventh in the league in batting average.
(By which I mean organized ball- playing in the minors for a major league team.) Seven players went on to play in the minors from this team, with five of them being pitchers.
- Kyle Walter was drafted in 2006 by the Toronto Blue Jays… as a pitcher. He pitched in the minors for three years.
- Adam McDaniel, Georgia. McDaniel was drafted in 2007 by the San Diego Padres, like Walter, though, as a pitcher. For the Royals in 2004, McDaniel hit .135/.202/.192 in 104 at-bats. He pitched for one season in the minors.
So it goes to show that a Valley League team does not necessarily need to have a whole bunch of future pros to succeed!