Team 8: 2014 Staunton
In 2014, Staunton finished 25-18 in the regular season, fourth in the Valley League, as the League eschewed divisions that summer. The squad finished 4.5 games behind the pennant-winning Harrisonburg Turks. In the first round of the playoffs, Staunton lost two games to one to fifth place Charles Town. Waynesboro ended up winning its second title in a row, defeating Charles Town in the championship series.
Staunton’s lineup slashed .297/.375/.407, while the league put up a line of .262/.353/.350. This puts Staunton at +114 overall, and our 8th best offense since 1994. This lineup is the only one to top 300 runs that summer (with 301), and led the league in batting average, slugging percentage, doubles (with 96), total bases, and RBIs. The lineup finished second in on-base percentage, and just one behind the league leaders in home runs (Charles Town and Front Royal had 24; Staunton finished with 23). Looking at those numbers, Staunton should have won the regular season title, right? However, the team’s pitching staff finished 10th out of 11 teams in ERA and WHIP, and 9th in BB/9.
- Gunnar McNeill, Kentucky: In the regular season, the league MVP hit .402/.469/.604 in 169 at-bats, with 28 runs scored, 16 doubles, six home runs, 50 RBIs (1.2 RBIs per game played!), and an excellent 22 walks against 19 strikeouts. McNeill then went a silly 7-12 in the three playoff games, with two runs, a double, two RBIs, and two walks. His combined average of .414 puts him 5th overall in the VL record book, and his combined .483 OBP is tied for 17th. He was the obvious #1 hitter in the league, according to ATVL.
- Joey Rodriguez, Wake Forest: .355/.421/.487 in 152 at-bats, with 42 runs scored, 12 doubles, a triple, two home runs, 22 RBIs, 12/21 BB/K ratio, and 20 stolen bases. He finished as the 8th best hitter in the league.
- Hunter Thomas, Georgia Southern: .348/.436/.400 in 115 at-bats, with 23 runs scored, 13 RBIs, 14/24 BB/K ratio, and ten stolen bases. He was the 15th best hitter.
- James Vasquez, Central Florida: He only played in 17 games, but hit .348/.365/.551 in 69 at-bats, with five doubles, three home runs, and 22 RBIs.
Five players went pro from this squad. Ryan Meisinger, Heath Slatton, and Tyler Zombro were pitchers, which leaves two pros from the batter’s box. (Meisinger has pitched in the major leagues, by the way.)
- Vasquez was picked in the 25th round of the 2015 draft by the Cincinnati Reds. He played in the minors for three seasons, hitting a combined .256/.327/.417 in 1,130 plate appearances, along with 55 doubles and 33 home runs. He spent 2018 in the Mexican League as well.
- JC Escarra (Florida International) was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2017. He’s hit .253/.355/.390 in his three minor league seasons, with 44 doubles, 22 home runs, and a solid 112/144 BB/K ratio. As far as I can tell, he’s still active (we’ll find out for sure in a month or so). For Staunton in 2014, Escarra hit .283/.298/.444 in 99 at-bats, with seven doubles and three home runs.
The 7th best offense comes from 2012, but isn’t the team you’re probably expecting…..