Before we start our writeup on Mr. Furman, take a look at all the previous #1 hitters:
|2019- Aidan Nagle, Woodstock|
|2018- Andrew Eyster, New Market|
|2017- Michael Wielansky, Charlottesville|
|2016- Zach Sterry, Waynesboro|
|2015- Shane Billings, Harrisonburg|
|2014- Gunnar McNeill, Staunton|
|2013- Jordan Tarsovich, Strasburg|
|2012- Jimmy Yezzo, Winchester|
|2011- Brad Zebedis, Strasburg|
|2010- Cory Spangenberg, Winchester|
|2009- Stephen McQuail, Front Royal|
|2008- Tyler Townsend, Winchester|
|2007- Jason Kipnis, Covington|
Nate Furman didn’t arrive in Winchester until June 23, but after arriving, all he did is hit and draw walks; in fact, he got on base better than anyone in the last 25 years of the Valley League.
In the regular season, Furman hit .400/.556/.580 in exactly 100 at-bats, with 38 runs scored (in only 29 games), 22 RBIs, seven doubles, a triple, three home runs, and 25 stolen bases while only getting caught once. Here’s the best part, though: he walked 31 times and struck out only 14 times. He finished first in batting average, second in OPS, first in on-base percentage (more on that in a bit), ninth in slugging percentage, first in walks, tied for tenth in total bases (with 58), ninth in RBIs, sixth in hits, and second in runs scored. He had four hits twice, and three hits three times. He was Hitter of the Day three times, and was named Hitter of the Week on July 19.
His best three games:
- July 3, against Harrisonburg: 4-4, two runs, doubles, walk, stolen base
- July 16, against Purcellville: 2-3, three runs, double, RBI, two walks, two stolen bases
- June 29, at Front Royal: 4-6, two runs, double, RBI, walk, stolen base
He went 1-1, with two walks, and RBI, and stolen base in the All-Star game, and went a silly 9-17 (.529/.652/.765) in the playoffs, with eight runs, a double, home run, three RBIs, and a 6/3 BB/K.
So let’s address the OBP. Combining his regular season and playoff stats, he ended with an OBP of .570, the best (by far!) since 1994 (Second place Nick Sinay had a .534 OBP in 2014). He finished with 37 walks against only 17 total strikeouts; including the All-Star game it was 39/17! His approach at the plate is clearly working.
He said, “I think my ability to hit well with two strikes has always helped me with my approach in the sense that I’ve never felt like I had to chase out of the zone in hitters counts, or swing at pitches that maybe I’m not looking for, or pitches in spots I can’t really do damage with.” Clearly! He added, “Also being a top of the lineup guy my job is to get on base so guys can hit me in. Walks are good!”
As for his overall experience in the summer, Furman said, “The Valley is a special league, and I was just glad I was able to be a part of it and help the Royals win some ball games.”
Furman has returned to UNC Charlotte for his sophomore season. It should come as no surprise that, as a freshman, he hit .301/.425/.452, with seven doubles, two triples, a home run, 26 runs scored, 24 RBIs, and, wait for it… 22 walks and only 15 strikeouts.
Congratulations on your outstanding summer!