We’ve reached the top three!
Team 3: 2012 Winchester Royals
The 2012 Royals easily won the North division, finishing the regular season at 31-13 and a full nine games ahead of second-place Haymarket. The team swept Strasburg in the first playoff series, two games to none, and then did the same to Woodstock in the semi-finals. In the finals, though, the Harrisonburg Turks knocked off the Royals, three games to one. Honestly, when I started this exercise, I assumed that this team would finish at the top of my rankings. Third is no crime, of course, but this team’s performance has been a thing of legend for the past nine years.
The league put up a slashline of .278/.365/.413 in 2012. Winchester hit .303/.378/.508, putting the team at +133, pretty squarely in the third position of all teams since 1994. That .508 slugging percentage is the highest of any team; truly, the power is what sets this team apart. The team led the league in the aforementioned slugging, along with runs, doubles, and home runs. The team scored 43 more runs than Waynesboro’s 350, hit 18 more doubles than second place Harrisonburg, and destroyed the league with 84 home runs- Luray came in second with 47! The Royals also finished second in batting average and on-base percentage.
- Jimmy Yezzo (Delaware): .362/.401/.679 in 218 at-bats, with 51 runs scored, 21 doubles, 16 home runs, 62 RBIs, and a 15/36 BB/K ratio. In the Valley League record book (also since 1994), Yezzo is first in doubles, RBIs, and total bases (with 148), tied for second in home runs, fourth in hits and runs scored, and 11th in slugging percentage. His year is one of the best the league has ever seen, and I would humbly submit that he probably should have been the league MVP (not that Julian Ridings wasn’t also deserving).
- Bradley Picha (Lamar): .370/.441/.657 in 181 at-bats, 38 runs, 14 doubles, a triple, 12 home runs, 36 RBIs, 19/32 BB/K. Picha’s slugging is tied for 17th all-time, and comes in tied for ninth in total bases (with 119).
- Leo Rojas (Alabama State): .357/.416/.540 in 213 at-bats, with 59 runs scored, 14 doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 34 RBIs, 18/27 BB/K, and 11 stolen bases. Rojas shows up three times in the league record book- first overall in runs scored, fifth in hits (with 76), and 13th in total bases (115).
- Joseph Odom (Huntingdon): .350/.407/.706 in 197 at-bats, 45 runs, 15 doubles, two triples, 17 home runs, 46 RBIs, 18/40 BB/K. His name is sprinkled all over the record book, too. He’s second in total bases (139), tied for seventh in slugging, tied for 15th in both RBIs and runs, and the big one? Joseph Odom has hit the most home runs by any Valley League hitter since 1994. He’s first!
- Garret Autrey (Lamar): .300/.395/.500 in 170 at-bats, with 36 runs, 11 doubles, a triple, seven home runs, 35 RBIs, 24/34 BB/K, and seven stolen bases
Six players joined organized baseball from this team- four of them hitters. Here they are:
- Yezzo was picked in the 7th round of the 2013 draft by Washington. He played for three seasons in hte minors, putting up .253/.287/.357 numbers in 874 at-bats. He also played for two years in Indy ball at the end of his career.
- Odom was grabbed by the Atlanta Braves in the 13th round of the 2018 draft. He is the only member of this team to make the major leagues- he played in 18 games with the Seattle Mariners in 2020 and in two so far in 2021 for the Tampa Bay Rays.
- Jamill Moquete was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 32nd round in 2014. He played in parts of two seasons in the minors, hitting .212/.325/.431 in 260 at-bats. For the Royals in 2012, he hit .235/.371/.426 in 115 at-bats, with ten doubles and four home runs.
- Logan Moon (Central Arkansas) was the closest to the majors from this team besides Odom. Drafted in the 6th round in 2014 by Kansas City, Moon maxed out at Triple-A in his five minor league seasons. Overall, he hit .265/.312/.356 in 1,450 at-bats. For the Royals in 2012, he hit .288/.316/.412 in 177 at-bats, with 30 runs, five doubles, five home runs, and 10 stolen bases.
We have only two teams left. Any guesses?