10 burning questions at the halfway point
With 12 games down and 12 games to go for most ORWBL teams we have officially hit the half way mark on the 2020 ORWBL regular season. With that being said, there are plenty of questions that will be answered as the 2nd half of the season unfolds. Let’s take a look at 10 burning questions that will be answered in the coming weeks.
1.) Will Granger go undefeated?
The Panthers have been absolutely dominant so far in 2020. They are outscoring teams 155-40 as they have the best run differential of +115.
It is worth noting that their opponents so far have a combined record of 11-34 as the Lynn Street Leprechauns at 4-8 are the best team that they have played in terms of record.
Their schedule gets tougher from here but their next 9 games are extremely winnable as all three opponents currently sit under .500.
Having said that, Granger has been the best regular season team in their first 4 years in the league as they have proven that they are a dominate regular season team.
While going 12-0 over the 2nd half of the season is going to be extremely tough, Granger is built to do it.
2.) Will JP Kehoe continue his breakout campaign en route to an MVP?
JP Kehoe has been an absolute stud so far for County Line. The rising star bursted onto the scene in Week 2 as he helped lead County Line to an impressive series win over defending champs, Maple City.
Kehoe followed his breakout performance by mashing 15 Home Runs out of the Palace over the course of a 3 game series. Kehoe has been the engine for this team so far and it will be interesting to see if he can keep it up at this crazy pace.
Currently at 7-5, County Line is in the mix to earn a 1st round Bye in the American League. Kehoe will play a huge role in the Kings success and it will be fun to follow. It is also worth noting that County Line was swept on Opening Day which Kehoe did not play in.
After playing with the Kings last year, there were not many stats reported on him so he is definitely a player to watch throughout the rest of the season.
The Lincoln Trail College baseball standout took home Wiffle Talk's Week 3 American League Player of the Week honors.
3.) Will the Wildcards luck change on the road?
After 12 straight home games to start the season, the Wildcards will finish with 12 straight road games to end the season. The schedule changes that occurred due to the Covid-19 outbreak had the biggest impact on this team as they are the only team to have that sort of schedule.
With 12 games in the books, it is no secret the The Palace is a hitters paradise. Despite sitting at 2-10, the Wildcards have 3 of the top 5 league leaders in Batting Average which is pretty wild to think about.
This team has not had issues scoring but their defense has haunted them so far. Now heading on the road for 12 straight games, the Wildcard will definitely be playing a different type of wiffleball as the Palace is one of a kind.
It will be interesting to see what these guys do on the road in the 2nd half of the season which is usually when these guys start to get hot. With that being said, watch out for these guys to have a nice run in the 2nd half.
4.) Can the Newts catch Granger?
While the Panthers have been the team to beat so far in 2020, the Newts are right behind them. New Carlisle leads the league in runs scored and have outscored their opponents 160-79.
That right there folks, is New Carlisle Newts wiffleball. With the additions of Aidan Cotter, Garrett Ruiz, and Connor VanOverberge providing some youthful energy- this Newts team is as dangerous as ever.
This squad has a balanced mixture of veterans and youth and seem to really be gelling together as a team so far. One of the more deeper squads in ORWBL, Manager Koby Keck has an abundance of talent to choose from week in and week out.
Keck has been a pure genius so far as a Manager as he has taken managing in wiffleball to new heights. Keck has consistently been getting 10-12 players two games worth of at bats in every series. That right there is incredibly impressive from a pure managerial perspective.
Keck has gotten the most out of all of his players and will certainly have this team ready to go when they meet up with Granger to close out the season.
Looking at both teams schedules, it could be tough for New Carlisle to stay right there with Granger. However, if they are able to win their series vs. Maple City, the Newts could very well be playing for the top seed in the National League on the final week of the season.
With all that being said, we know that the Newts main goal is to beat the Panthers in the playoffs but they would surely love to beat them in the regular season as well.
5.) Will Twin Branch turn things around?
After going 20-4 while falling just 1 game shy of a trip to the World Series in 2019, Twin Branch has been a disappointment so far in 2020.
Two time reigning Cy Young Award winner Andrew Doran has not been his usual self on the mound as he boasts a 10.80 ERA at the half way mark. Despite the elevated ERA, Doran has a 4-2 record which leaves the rest of the staff at 1-5 combined.
Will Andrew Doran continue to share pitching duties like he has so far this year or might we see Doran return to being the workhorse on the mound? It is possible that Doran is thinking about the big picture as he looks to find some more pitching depth.
The addition of Tyler Serosynski could play a huge role in their 2nd half success as Tiki leads the league with 7 saves so far this season. On top of that, Tiki adds an experienced and explosive bat to go alongside the already loaded lineup of Lucas Oletti, Frankie Minerva, Andrew Doran, and Keigan White. Expect this team to be much improved in the 2nd half of the season.
6.) Will Union Mills take a step forward?
It is no secret that Union Mills is the youngest team in the league. After going 5-19 in their inaugural campaign, the Goon Squad came into year 2 hoping to take a leap forward.
Currently at 1-8, Union Mills has struggled to get out of the gate as they have struggled mightily at the plate. Union Mills has only scored 25 runs in 9 games as that has really held them back so far this season.
While their defense has noticeably improved, we are still waiting on these guys to get their bats rolling. Although they have struggled at the plate, they were able to capture a highlight win against the Flat Rock Cyclones.
Thru 9 games, the Cyclones only loss came at the hands of the Goon Squad. So while the struggle at the plate has been real for these guys, they can at least hand their heads on that win.
Once the Union Mills bats come alive, it will be interesting to see how they compete with the rest of the National League.
Any team this young has all the reason to celebrate the little things. Beating the Cyclones is certainly good reason to celebrate. Let’s see what other things this young group will be celebrating as the season progresses.
7.) Will Jared Jonkman continue to play at an MVP level?
If you have watched Maple City games this year you have probably noticed that Jared Jonkman has been the best player on the field. As he gets set to turn 22 this weekend, the younger Jonkman is having a breakout season.
He is leading the Magic in nearly every hitting category (2nd in AVG at .531) and has undoubtedly been the leader for this Maple City team who sits at 10-2 atop the American League standings.
Anytime you’re the best player on the top team in the league you are usually in the MVP discussion and Jonkman is doing just that.
After playing in the shadows of Caleb in his first 3 years, Jared looks like he has arrived as a star. We caught a glimpse of it last season as Jared took home World Series MVP honors.
Expect Jonkman to make a push in the Home Run race in the 2nd half as the wind begins to shift out at Magic Park.
8.) Which teams will earn the American League Byes?
While it seems as though the top 2 seeds in the National League are all but set, the American League is a different story.
After sweeping Flat Rock in Week 4, Maple City is back atop the American League standings at 10-2. They currently hold a 2 game lead over the 2nd place Cyclones and a 3 game lead both over the Kings and Meatspins.
While it might be tough for either of those teams to catch the Magic, it is certainly possible. At 10-2, the 3x defending champions have to be happy with where they currently stand.
Meanwhile, despite getting swept last week, Flat Rock has to be happy with where they are positioned. If the regular season ended today they would indeed be one of the 4 regional hosts when the playoffs begin on August 2nd.
Having said that, they only hold a 1 game cushion for 2nd in the AL. Meanwhile, the Kings are gaining traction over in County Line. After getting swept on Opening Day by those Flat Rock Cyclones, the Kings have gone 7-2 including their impressive series win at Magic Park.
The Kings are red hot and are getting hotter with every minute. This team has to be a popular pick to earn a Bye considering the momentum that they have. After receiving some help from Maple City, the Kings are right on the tails of the Cyclones.
Meanwhile, the Mishawaka Meatspins have been very consistent so far this season, winning 3 out of their 4 series played. If the Meatspins can consistently continue to win each series, a bye is very much within reach.
This group just seems to be getting hot as well which is a scary thought for the rest of the American League. With Anthony Rieff putting up ace like numbers on the mound, this team is even more dangerous than we originally thought.
Now let’s get to the Billy Goats. We’ve already talked about their slow start but let’s not forget what they did last year.
This team won 20 games in the regular season, taking home the top seed in the AL. They then took Maple City to the brink of elimination as they came within 1 win of reaching the World Series.
While they haven’t been the same since, we know what this team can do. With that being said, you can’t count out the Goats just yet as they currently sit 3 games back of the 2nd seeded Cyclones.
Sitting 4 games back of the 2nd seed is the Hudson Lake Heat who will need a monster 2nd half as well as a little help if they have any hopes of earning a Bye.
With the Wildcards sitting at 2-10 they will just be looking to climb a few spots in the standings as they head on the road for an unprecedented 12 game road trip.
All in all, look for those first 4 teams we mentioned in Maple City, Flat Rock, County Line & Twin Branch to battle it out for a Bye with the Billy Goats and Heat just a series sweep away from putting themselves in the conversation.
9.) Will EA dominate their 2nd half schedule?
Although they sit at 3-9, Emery’s Army has to be feeling confident about their chances in the 2nd half of the season.
After finishing the 9 game gauntlet against Granger, Maple City, and New Carlisle in which they went 1-8, the schedule really eases up the rest of the way.
The 2nd half of their schedule includes matchups against Bourissa Hills (2-10), Lynn Street (4-8), Elkhart (4-5), & Union Mills (1-8) who have a combined record of 11-31.
After looking at that, Rolling Prairie definitely seems like they are in store for a major 2nd half as they hope to make a run at the #3 seed in the National League.
Coming off of the night series at Migley Field in which they were able to hand New Carlisle their first loss, Rolling Prairie showed us signs of what we could see more of in the 2nd half. In their first game against the Newts, they played solid defense, got base runners, and consistently hit the long ball.
Against Granger and Maple City we really did not see much of that. But with Ryan Murphy, Jake Lawrence, Danny Hernandez, Matt Serge, Brady Burnett, & Kevin May all getting hits in their win over New Carlisle maybe just maybe we caught a glimpse of what this team might look like in the 2nd half.
Matt Serge was the catalyst in their win as he had 5 RBI including a clutch Grand Slam Homer en route to a 12 run inning. Serge’s success could very well go hand in hand with this team’s success.
It will be very interesting to see how this team fares against the bottom half of the National League as that might give us a better idea of what they can do as a group.
10.) Will Brandon Terry get out of his sophomore slump and turn things around in Elkhart?
After putting together a monstrous Rookie campaign in which he won NL Rookie of the Year honors as well as the National League MVP, BLT has gotten off to a rather slow start to the season.
Thru 9 games Terry is hitting .356 to go along with 7 HR, & 9 RBI. Mind you, Elkhart has played with unfavorable conditions so far in every game this season as numbers are down across the board.
Being the talented hitter that he is, expect Terry to turn things around as soon as this weekend as Elkhart gears up for a crucial double header in which they will play 6 games vs. Union Mills and Flat Rock.
You don't want to put too much emphasis on the regular season but this Sunday will definitely play a huge role in determining where this team is headed.
At 4-5 they are not where they would like to be but with 15 games left in the season for them, there is still a lot of Wiffleball to be played.
Walter Griffin III has done an admirable job leading the hitting charge so far despite the tough hitting conditions. If Terry is able to return to looking like the guy we saw dominate opposing pitching last year, Elkhart could be in store for a huge 2nd half, just as they did in 2019.