For the past few years, I’ve been ranking the Valley League franchises with an entirely-made-up rubric. It’s just one way to rank teams, and should not be considered any kind of definitive statement… but it’s fun.
First, some background:
Seven Valley League teams have been in the league since 2001: Covington, Front Royal, Harrisonburg, New Market, Staunton, Winchester, and Waynesboro. Woodstock joined in 2004, Strasburg in 2011, Charles Town/Purcellville in 2013, and Charlottesville in 2015. Several other teams were active in this time span: Luray, Haymarket/Aldie, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Rockbridge.
My ridiculous idea was this: I decided to assign points (called “Franchise Points”) for various achievements. The rubric looks like this:
- 1 point for a season finished at .500 or better
- 1 point for 30+ regular season wins (a bonus for a truly outstanding year)
- 1 point for winning the regular season division title (or in the case of 2014, 2010, 2007, and 2006, winning the regular season pennant, since there were no divisions those years)
- 1 point for losing in the first round of the playoffs (or you could call this a point for qualifying for the playoffs)
- 2 points for losing in the semifinals
- 3 points for losing in the finals
- 5 points for winning the title (what the teams play for, obviously)
Does that sound ridiculous? Yeah, for sure. But, again, it’s fun!
Let’s begin with some winning percentages. I have separated the charts between the original seven and the others.
If you’re curious, this ranking has not changed in quite some time. Amazing, though- Harrisonburg is 34.5 games in first place in the regular season over the past 20 years.
This one has changed; with a couple good seasons, Strasburg has slipped past Luray.
Now, by assigning the rubric, the best franchises from the original seven:
- Winchester: 6 division titles, won 3 championships (2001, 2003, 2004)
- Waynesboro: 6 division titles, also 3 championships (2007, 2013, 2014)
- Covington: 4 division titles, won two championships (2005, 2011)
- Harrisonburg: 4 division titles, 1 championship (2012)
- New Market: 1 division title (2006), and two championships (2002, 2018)
- Staunton: 3 division titles, 0 championships; the Braves made the finals in 2004, 2006, and 2015, but have not won a championship since 1999
- Front Royal: 2 division titles (2009, 2015), 0 championships, one finals (2010); Cardinals won their only championship in 1986
Now the partials:
- Strasburg: 3 division titles, 3 championships (2015, 2016, 2021).
- Charlottesville: 2 division titles, 2 championships (2017, 2019)
- Purcellville/Charles Town: 2 division titles, 0 championships
- Luray: 3 division titles, 3 championships (2006, 2008, 2010)
- Aldie/Haymarket: 1 division title, 1 championship (2009)
- Rockbridge: 0 division titles, 0 championships- Rapids made the finals in 2011
- Woodstock: 1 division title (2013); the River Bandits have not advanced to the finals yet as a franchise
- Fauquier: in their 3 years of existence, the Gators did not win a division title or championship. They lost in the first round of the playoffs in 2008
- Loudoun: the Rangers finished last in their only season
Putting it all together:
So there you have it- the most successful franchise in the last twenty years is the Strasburg Express, with Charlottesville very, very close behind.
It’s altogether silly, but a fun little snapshot regarding which teams have had the most success in the last two decades.
We’ll update in another year!