After a breakout 2019 in which the 'Goats won the most regular season games in the league, Twin Branch faces roster question-marks entering 2020. Losing two every-game starters in Connor VanOverberghe and Kadin Abegg will force the 'Goats to rely on unproven prospects to fill the void. However, with their core four still intact Twin Branch's World Series hopes are as high as ever.
The Twin Branch Billy Goats broke out in a major way in 2019, winning an ORWBL-best 20 games. The 'Goats lost just one series all season (1-2 to their cross-town rivals Granger) and were notably able to pull of sweeps of Maple City and Hudson Lake. They nearly maintained the same six-man lineup for every series. In the playoffs, Twin Branch swept the Kings (2-0) in the ALCS before dropping a controversial ALDS to the commissioner's team (2-3) without sure-handed outfielder VanOverberghe. Andrew Doran, Lucas Oletti, Frankie Minerva, and Connor VanOverberghe were selected as All-Stars for the 'Goats, with Oletti winning the HR derby. Additionally, Doran was awarded his second consecutive Cy Young award for his effort on the mound.
1. Core Four.
While the aforementioned losses of VanO and Abegg will hurt, Twin Branch is still a World Series contender thanks to their four main guys: Doran, Oletti, Frankie, and Keigan White. As the original members of the 'Goats, these four have been present for an incredible 47 of the team's 48 ORWBL regular season games. Their longevity and dependability in Twin Branch's emergence as a top-tier team is reason enough for 'Goats fans to be hopeful for a World Series in 2020. Taking into account their improvement from 2018 to 2019, another jump is surely possible. These four give Twin Branch one of the highest floors in the entire league.
Within Twin Branch's leap last season was the emergence of outfielder Lucas Oletti as a MVP-caliber player. Oletti set the league on fire last season and was surely the runner-up for AL MVP (not that we actually know the results of the voting, that's apparently confidential). Oletti is the definition of a 5-tool wiffler. He has one of the smoothest swings in the game, with the speed to match is outstanding power. On defense Oletti is about as consistent as they come but he will be asked to cover a bit more ground this season in left following the departure of VanO. Nevertheless, 2020 has all signs pointing to a MVP-campaign for Hoodie Oletti.
3. Who's their 5th guy?
I'm sure the 'Goats are sick of hearing about losing Abegg and VanO, as that has someone been the dominate story line in mainstream wiffle media... despite them winning the most games in the league last season and coming one (perhaps illegitimate) game away from the World Series. Yet, it is still a question-mark of who will be their 5th guy this season. The younger Doran brother, Peyton, figures to be an opening day starter, but look for longtime filler Riley Smith to have an expanded role, too. Whoever their 5th is, the ceiling of the team will likely rely on how well they're able to match their core's outstanding play.
P Andrew Doran | .528 AVG, 30 HR, 39 RBI | 14-1, 20 SO, 4.77 ERA
P Peyton Doran
OF Frankie | .509 AVG, 31 HR, 46 RBI
OF Oletti | .537 AVG, 38 HR, 45 RBI
OF Keigan | .377 AVG, 24 HR, 32 RBI
It's almost like people forget how good the 'Goats were in 2019. They led the league in wins, swept the Magic at Kesling, and narrowly missed out on the World Series. Sure, losing VanO and Abegg hurts their depth, but it certainly doesn't ruin their chances. Doran's little brother Peyton is an up-and-coming player himself, and more ABs for Oletti, Doran, and Frankie will be a big boost to their offense. The American League is deep this year, but the 'Goats have proven they can make it to the biggest stages. Hell, this is a team who's already made it to a Hometown Cup finals. I'm all in on the 'Goats in 2020, and you should be too.