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Twin Branch's Tony Koch And Mill Pond's Aaron Hogan Win Comeback Player of the Year Honors

Throughout the week, we are announcing the winners of each regular season award voted on by all eighteen Managers. A player/manager received 3 points for a 1st place vote, 2 points for a 2nd place vote, and 1 point for a 3rd place vote. Today we announce the winners of the National and American League Comeback Player of the Year Awards. We began handing out the Award in 2019 while it was originally named the Most Improved Player Award. To follow in line like we do with the rest of MLB Awards, we switched it to the Comeback Player of the Year Award ahead of the 2021 season,

Starting off on the National League, it was Tony Koch of the Twin Branch Billy Goats who came away with the most votes to secure the award. After spending the last three years in retirement, Koch returned to ORWBL action as he signed an ORWBL deal with the Billy Goats over the offseason.

Despite retiring from the league after the 2018 season, Koch still entered the 2022 season with the 2nd highest Batting Average of all time (.601), the 2nd most Hits (761) the 3rd most HR (347) and the 6th most RBI (502). With that said, Twin Branch knew that they were bringing in one of the greatest hitters in ORWBL history. However, there were some questions as to whether Koch would still be the same player that he was before he announced his retirement.

Koch quickly put those concerns to rest as his presence in the Twin Branch lineup was immediately felt. The Billy Goats lineup was already one of the most talented from top to bottom in the league but Koch helped this team reemerge as one of the best teams in the league. The addition of Koch could not have come at a better time after Twin Branch put together back to back losing seasons in 2020 and 2021, after two straight LCS' appearances in the two years prior.

While Koch's veteran presence brought an immediate spark to the clubhouse, his contributions on the field played just as big of a role in Twin Branch's quick turnaround. "The Doctor" played in 18 Games while going 53/93 at the plate with 25 HR,(4th on team) 35 RBI, and 31 Runs to go along with a team leading .570 Batting Average which was the highest Average of any qualified player on the National League side. All in all, Koch helped play a massive role in Twin Branch returning to elite form as they finished the regular season with a 22-8 record, earning the #2 seed in the National League. Koch now adds his Comeback Player of the Year Award to his already impressive list of accolades as he won the 2011 NL Cy Young, along with an NL MVP Award in 2011 before winning his 2nd MVP in 2017 but this time playing in the American League.

Moving over to the American League side of things, it was one of Mill Pond's talented young players in Aaron Hogan who took home the award. Hogan won a tight vote as he finished with 25 voting points while Maple City's Jeremy Ross finished in 2nd with 21. Heading into the season, we knew that Mill Pond was going to get solid production out of All Stars Andrew Karsten and Zach Christy. However, there were plenty of questions revolving around the rest of their roster. The Pink Pandas saw a handful of players take big leaps in terms of production but Aaron Hogan made the most notable jump.

In his Rookie season last year, Hogan played in 11 Games as he went 17/49 at the plate with 1 HR, 4 RBI, and 9 Runs to go along with a .347 Batting Average. This year he followed that up by going 72/138 with 14 HR, 33 RBI, and 50 Runs all while sporting an impressive .522 Batting Average. He ranked 3rd on the team in AVG, 3rd in Hits, 4th in HR, 4th in RBI, and 3rd in Runs scored.

Hogan began the year hitting either in the five or six hole in the Mill Pond lineup. After a hot start to the season, Manager Andrew Karsten decided to move Hogan's bat to the top of the lineup as he emerged as a true leadoff hitter. His ability to reach base played a massive role in their success as guys like Karsten and Christy were able to then hit the long ball with guys on base. It is also worth noting that another Panda in Todd Snyder made massive improvements this year as he belted a team leading 30 Home Runs, many of them with Hogan on base.

After going 7-23 in their inaugural ORWBL season, the Pink Pandas organization made a quick turnaround as they finished the year with a 16-14 record while earning the #4 seed in the American League. All in all, there is just loads of reasons to be excited about this young ball club as we saw the entire team grow in their 2nd year in the league. On top of all of their young talent, this team also built one of the premier ballparks in the league as The Panda Den has quickly turned into one of the top Wiffleball destinations. They gave the top seeded Truffle Butter all that they could handle in the ALDS and will be looking to build off of this fantastic season in 2023.

Awards week continues tomorrow as we will announce the National and American League Gold Glove Award winners. Below are the full results for the Comeback Player of the Year Awards as we will post all of the Manager's ballots in full next week.

National League Comeback Player of the Year Full Results:

Tony Koch: 28 (Billy Goats)

Nolan Crail: 14 (Skeeters)

Adam Cseh: 9 (Sluggers)

Doug Benner: 7 (Heat)

Ben McDonald: 7 (Heat)

Conner Mowers: 6 (Sluggers)

Dan Schaefer: 5 (Sluggers)

Peyton Doran: 5 (Skeeters)

Riley Smith: 5 (Billy Goats)

Kade Stone: 3 (Skeeters)

Frankie Minerva: 3 (Billy Goats)

Bob Bushman: 2 (Heat)

Brandon Campbell: 2 (Panthers)

Luke Armstrong: 2 (Leprechauns)

Nate Marino: 2 (Sluggers)

Daivyn Davis: 2 (Panthers)

Ryan Warmoth: 2 (Meatspins)

Cam Bashaw: 1 (Knights)

Nick Thoman: 1 (Meatspins)

Brett Shepard: 1 (Panthers)

Andy Migas: 1 (Sluggers)

American League Comeback Player of the Year Full Results:

Aaron Hogan: 25 (Pink Pandas)

Jeremy Ross: 21 (Magic)

Kadin Abegg: 12 (Wiffle Dees)

Todd Snyder: 12 (Pink Pandas)

Alex Friedman: 7 (Magic)

Zach Christy: 5 (Pink Pandas)

Ryan Galiher: 3 (Truffle Butter)

Austin Howell: 3 (Cyclones)

Garrett Ruiz: 3 (Wiffle Dees)

Andrew Ooms: 3 (OTF)

Avry Plonka: 2 (Pink Pandas)

Collin Babcock: 2 (Cyclones)

Matador Smith: 2 (Godfathers)

Kyle Gagliardi: 2 (Truffle Butter)

Sam Satoski: 2 (Cyclones)

Cody Carlisle: 1 (Wildcards)

Whitt Huffer: 1 (Godfathers)

Ryan Ward: 1 (Pink Pandas)

Owen Satoski: 1 (Cyclones)


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