We’ve reached the top two!
Team 2: 1999 Staunton
Staunton in 1999 easily won the regular season title by finishing with a 27-13 record, a full five games ahead of the Harrisonburg Turks. In the first round of the playoffs, Staunton defeated Harrisonburg three games to one, and then swept Winchester in the Finals, three games to none. It was Staunton’s third title in five years, but it was also the last one Staunton has won.
The league hit .255/.346/.354 that summer, but Staunton put a slashline of .292/.388/.418, coming in at +143 in my rubric, and all alone in second place. The team led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, runs, doubles, home runs, and even stolen bases. The lineup finished second in walks (nine behind Winchester) and hit-by-pitches (only one behind Winchester). This is how dominant this offense was- the lineup finished 20 points ahead of the second place team in batting average, 31 points in OBP, and 37 points in slugging.
- Luke Scott, Indian River CC: .366/.467/.604 in 134 at-bats, with 33 runs scored, 12 doubles, a triple, six home runs, 30 RBIs, 24/21 BB/K, and five stolen bases.
- David Stone, Virginia: .348/.449/.393 in 178 at-bats, with 38 runs, six doubles, a triple, 21 RBIs, 33/21 BB/K, and 15 stolen bases.
- Eric Bender, JMU: .338/.425/.527 in 148 at-bats, with 37 runs, seven doubles, seven home runs, 34 RBIs, 21/19 BB/K.
- Tim Olson, Hutchinson CC: .315/.425/.516 in 184 at-bats, with 43 runs, 13 doubles, eight home runs, 49 RBIs, 24/37 BB/K, 11 hit-by-pitches, 14 stolen bases.
- Chad Tracy, East Carolina: .294/.387/.403 in 119 at-bats, with 21 runs, four doubles, three home runs, 26 RBIs, 15/19 BB/K.
I’m not sure where to put this, so I’ll just drop it here: I don’t understand how Harrisonburg’s Ernie Durazo was named MVP of this season. Both Luke Scott and Tim Olson put up better numbers than Durazo, and Staunton also won the pennant… (Durazo hit .330/.379/.480 in 179 at-bats, so he was very, very good, but…) I wonder if Scott and Olson split the vote? Was there something else I’m missing?
In total, 17 players went on to organized pro ball from this team. In fact, just 30 players are listed as having appeared in a game for Staunton that summer, which means that a cool 57% went on to play organized ball. Three players actually made the major leagues- 10%! (Seems there might be some more research in my future?) Eleven of the 17 players were hitters:
- Scott was picked in the 9th round of the 2001 draft by the Cleveland Indians. He went on to have a nine-year major league career, hitting .258/.340/.481 in 2,810 at-bats, with 181 doubles, 20 triples, and 135 home runs. He won three Player of the Week awards, and finished 6th in slugging percentage in the American League in 2010.
- Stone was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the 36th round in 2002. He played in just one season in the minors- at Low-A Salem-Keizer. He hit .281/.435/.357 in 199 at-bats… with 47 walks!
- Olson was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 7th round of the 2000 draft. He played in parts of two seasons- 2004 and 2005- in the major leagues. While he got only 117 plate appearances in those two years, he made it to the game’s highest level!
- Tracy, who reminds me far too much of Thomas Francisco (or is it the other way around?), was drafted out of East Carolina by the Diamondbacks in the 7th round in 2001. He went on to a nine-year career in the major leagues, batting .274/.333/.439 in 2,706 at-bats, with 172 doubles, nine triples, and 86 home runs. He finished 7th in the National League in batting average in 2005, at .308.
- Jeremy Frost (Central Florida) was picked in the 10th round of the 2002 draft by Milwaukee. He played for four seasons in the minors, where he batted .248/.297/.398 in 1,005 career plate appearances. He also played two seasons in Indy ball. (Frost went 3-15 in eight games for Staunton in 1999.)
- Mike DiRosa (Miami) was drafted by Arizona in the 16th round in 2001. He played for six years in the minors, putting up a slashline of .234/.351/.365 in 1,067 plate appearances. He went 7-38 for Staunton in 1999.
- John Williamson (East Carolina) was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 18th round of the 2001 June Amateur Draft. He played for three seasons in the minors, hitting .248/.330/.399 in 682 total at-bats. (He hit .272/.365/.419 in 136 at-bats in 1999.)
- Mike Eylward (South Florida) was a very late draft pick- 44th round in 2001 by the Anaheim Angels- but he stuck around for eight minor league seasons, including parts of two seasons just one step away from the majors in Triple-A. In 3,362 plate appearances, he hit .286/.357/.430, with 184 doubles, 11 triples, and 74 home runs. (He hit .260/.390/.440 in 100 at-bats in 1999.)
- Dustin Brisson (Central Florida) was drafted three times- in 1996, 1999, and 2000- but he finally signed after the Red Sox took him in the 15th round in ’00. Brisson played for four seasons in the minors, putting up a slashline of .255/.326/.395 in 1,218 at-bats. He also played one season for Chillicothe of the independent Frontier League in 2004, and hit .330/.408/.534 in 348 at-bats. (He went 18-58 with four doubles in 1999.)
- Addison Bowman (Virginia Tech) was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Boston Red Sox. He spent 2002 and 2003 in the minors, hitting .258/.337/.348 in 601 at-bats. After his pro career, Bowman went on to become a star in the Rockingham County Baseball League, where he was named MVP four times. (Bowman hit .258/.296/.338 in 151 at-bats for Staunton in ’99.)
- Mark Rueffert (Virginia) was a nondrafted sign of the Detroit Tigers. He got 68 total at-bats in his one season, and hit .221/.346/.235. (He went 19-71 with seven doubles in 1999.)
That leaves us with just one team to go- the team with the best offense in the last 26 Valley League seasons!