Last year, the arrival of the KBO was a breath of fresh air for our discouraged, quarantined, and deprived of baseball. Between May and July, the entire baseball community was invested in leagues that differed in many ways from MLB. With an emphasis on contact hits and runners, some were reminiscent of another, perhaps nostalgic era in Major League Baseball. Sure, defense and pitching can sometimes be clunky, but we accepted them as a fun peculiarity. And while baseball and what looks normal are back on the state side, there are still many fans who want to monitor the KBO.
That’s why we decided to start a monthly column that acts as a regular check-in for the KBO. This is not, for example, a power ranking, but an overview of development that I find interesting. Today’s Part 1 covers trends across the league and keeps you up to date on Samsung Lions, KT Wiz, LG Twins and SSG Landers. Part 2, which we hope to be released on Monday, will cover the remaining six teams.Also, don’t forget our check Providing enhanced KBO statistics As the season progresses! So let’s get started without any further effort!
KBO standings, 5/7/21
|team||WL (pct.)||Game difference|
|Samsung Lions||18-11 (.621)||0.0|
|KT with||15-12 (.556)||2.0|
|LG twins||15-12 (.556)||2.0|
|SSG Landers||14-13 (.519)||3.0|
|NC Dinos||13-14 (.481)||4.0 4.0|
|Doosan Bears||13-14 (.481)||4.0 4.0|
|Kia Tigers||13-14 (.481)||4.0 4.0|
|Kiwoom Heroes||13-15 (.464)||4.5 4.5|
|Hanwha Eagles||12-15 (.441)||Five|
|Lotte Giants||11-17 (.393)||6.5 6.5|
Source: Neighbor Sports
The ranking is quite tight even in April / early May
There is only a 6.5 game difference between the first place, Samsung Lions, and the last place, Lotte Giants. This makes the KBO very enjoyable to watch. It was great, but it’s also unusual. Last season, at about the same time of the season, there was already a 16.5 game gap between first place and last place. Looking at the first 30 or so games of the recent KBO’s past, 2021 still stands out.
Most of this can be chalked up to the strangeness of April / early May. For example, NC Dinos won’t stay in the .500 team for a long time, but I suspect there are new factors to consider that weren’t previously relevant. The pitcher is walking the batter at an unprecedented speed so far. This tends to steal seemingly easy wins for the team. Maybe I’m off-based here because this is based on my own observations and not the actual data (WPA is a luxury I don’t have). We have to wait for how the pennant race will unfold after May.
Walking speed is getting out of control
What does it mean to be unprecedented? Look for yourself:
Just like that, there is an entire additional walk per game. I’ve only seen it in the last few years, Sports Soul ArticlesThis is the first time in the league’s 40-year history that BB / 9 has soared above 4.50. There were some potential explanations, from poor league-wide breaks and off-speed pitch commands to ambiguous walking effects, but no clear answer.
But the most likely reason is also the simplest. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, spring training started (a) two weeks later than usual, and (b) South Korea was not the warmest country the team had previously enjoyed. It is understandable that the pitcher has not been completely warmed up at this point. Moreover, walks tend to peak early in the season before they tend to decline. Pitchers issued 4.29 walks per 77 games in 9 innings in the 2015 season, but the rate dropped to 3.70 by the end of the season. I would like to check in again during the summer to see where this settled down.
In the first place, the team is … Samsung Lions? I’ve only played baseball for about a month, but I’m still surprised. In context, Lions crawl to the finish line last season with a mediocre record of 64-75.They made some moves during the off-season, including signing the free agent Slugger. Oh Jae-il 오재일 It was a four-year contract and held two free agents, none of which was expected to move the needle dramatically.
But the Lions brought in Jose Pirela As their foreign lazy. So far, it has been a wise decision. His .349 / .391 / .641 line, suitable for the 165w RC +, is the team’s highest point. Also, the success of Lions is driven by the emergence of new pitchers. Tae Won 원태인, Maintaining 1.18 ERA with 6 starts while hitting more than batters per inning. Combining these two breakout performances with the continued excellence of regulars provides a plausible explanation for why Lions dominated the league.
Of course, Pirela and Wong are unlikely to maintain their current pace, but Lions are fun to watch right now. As long as there are consistency similarities, the final wildcard berth is out of reach.
Wiz is chasing the Lions, but in reality they have the best run difference in the league.Departure Mel Rojas Jr. And his many years of aggressive production of 6-7 WAR, probably thanks to something even better, hasn’t been overlooked much. Kang Baek-ho 강백호A solid start from Zoilo Almonte 알몬테, LOHAS shifts, and other above average regulars. One sour note: Hwang Jae-gyun 황재균 Is on the injured list and feels his absence.
On the pitching side, Team Ace Odrisamer Despaigne 데스파 이네 His 3.54 FIP may suggest that his ERA doesn’t represent his pitching style, but he raised a good 2.15 ERA in 37.2 innings.Last season’s rookie of the year winner Hyeongjun Seo 소형준 Takes a step back, but the rest of the rotation and bullpen are strong overall.Like us Brendan Gawlowski mentions in KBO previewWith, with the exception of its high pitching depth, it has been an asset so far in leagues where pitchers lack control. This is definitely a solid team, and Wiz fans have a lot of hope.
For the 2021 season, the Twins will be considered one of the strongest teams in the league and may compete with NC Dinos for the number one crown. There’s not much to criticize here, but bats are still a bit cold: Roberto Ramos 라모스 It has just reached .213 / .295 / .351 and is off to a sluggish start. This shouldn’t be a concern as his GB% has decreased and Hard Hit% has increased since last season.
But a possible reason is that Ramos has lost some hits due to the infield shift. The BABIP for right-handed batters has changed little, but the BABIP for left-handed batters is the lowest since the 2012 season. This may be an example of a correlation that is not equal to causality, but it is clear that the team is shifting specifically towards Ramos. Here is an example, Courtesy of MBC Sports Plus:
With an HR / FB rate of 38.8% in his 38 Homer debut season, some return to his actual talent level was inevitable, but he is also not a 77 wRC + guy. Shift or not shift, expect Ramos to bounce.
Andrew Suarez And Casey Kelly 켈리 It is the strongest one-two pitching punch in the league, but the rotation of the Twins after that is bare.And with newcomers Lee Min Ho 이민호 At IL, there is a question about who can eat innings on a particular day. The bullpen is fortunate to be a star, holding its opponent to the second best 3.75 ERA with 110.1 innings. Overall, don’t worry too much about this team.
Wait, what do the kids say? correct, sus.. This is a team with a worse run difference than the 9th and 10th place teams, but somehow it is in 4th place. I don’t buy it. The Landers group FIP 4.88 is the second worst in the league, while the 96 wRC + is the fourth worst. Their record of wins and losses swelled with a few wins or twos, and achieved more than 10 runs in two or five against the Hanwha Eagles.
But what I buy is that this is a better team than last year.on the other hand Shin-Soo Choo 추신수 He doesn’t surprise us, but he’s significantly upgraded the designated hitter lagtag group, which accumulated the worst -0.3 aggressive WAR in 2020. The same applies to new foreign pitchers. Artie Louisicky And Wilmel font 폰트 – Not surprisingly, the average FIP floats the team.
Also remember Park Jong Hoon 박종훈Received a large number of underslow pitchers Love from the pitching ninja account?? He has made a great start with a 3.35 FIP and an untouched ground ball rate of 73.2%. Seeing his meticulous approach is a prestigious pastime. Anyway, Landers still seems to be a 7th or 8th place team, maybe 6th at best.
Part 2 is coming!
– MLB Sports
Keep up with KBO: April, Part 1
https://blogs.fangraphs.com/keeping-up-with-the-kbo-april-part-one/ Keep up with KBO: April, Part 1