There was a reddit post a few days ago on /r/KBO that talked about KBO-ness. You should read the full post but, in essence, KBO-ness is really the notion that truly anything can happen in a KBO game. We’ve seen a few times so far this season and early this morning, we really saw it on full display. The Lotte Giants vs Doosan Bears game had eight lead changes. EIGHT. After tying the game 8-8 in the bottom of the 8th, the Bears leadoff man hit a HR to right field to give them the lead. Up comes the bottom of the ninth and the Giants leadoff man returned the favor sending the Lotte Giants back to the top of the standings. The Dinos v Wiz game – one that so virtually no offense in the first five and a half frames – ended 5-4 in the bottom of the 10th. The LG Twins put up 14 runs on 12 hits with 0 HR. I may have just learned about KBO-ness, but man oh man do I fully embrace it now.
Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!
Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day:
Choi Hyung-woo (DH, Kia Tigers): 2-4, 2B, 2 R, 1 BB. Choi provided a big offensive bump in Kia’s 4-3 win over Hanwha, scoring half of the team’s runs in three times on base. The 36-year-old came into the game batting .267 with a .724 OPS in his fourth season with the Tigers.
Jung Jin-ho (LF, Hanwha Eagles): 2-5, 2B, 1 R. Jung led off the order and the offensive attack for the Eagles in the losing effort. The 31-year old has gotten off to a scorching start, batting .348 coming into the game with a .400 on-base percentage.
Kim Min-hyeok (LF, KT Wiz): 2-5, HR, 3B, 1 R, 2 RBI. Kim collected seven total bases on just two hits — his first extra-base hits of the year — on Wednesday after beginning the season with a paltry .053 batting average in 21 plate appearances. His triple in the tenth drove in a run to take the lead, but the bullpen failed to hold on.
Kwon Hee-dong (RF, NC Dinos): 2-2, HR, 1 R, 2 RBI, SB. Kwon replaced Aaron Altherr after one at-bat and paced the Dinos in the tail end of the game to give NC the win, including his first home run of the season. So far this year he has been steady with the bat, coming in with a .364 batting average and a whopping .916 OPS.
Na Sung-bum (DH, NC Dinos): 2-5, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Na also pitched in on the Dinos’ Wednesday win, hitting a solo homer from the designated hitter position — his third of the year. The 30-year old slugger was batting .304 with a .994 OPS coming into the game.
Kim Jae-hwan (LF, Doosan Bears): 2-4, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB. Kim led the Bears in a disappointing 10-9 loss with a strong effort at the plate and on the basepaths, including his fourth home run of the year, tying for the league lead. Sporting a .417 batting average and an eye-popping 1.315 OPS before the game, Wednesday’s results hardly come as a surprise.
Son Ah-seop (RF, Lotte Giants): 2-2, 2 R, 2 RBI, 3 BB. Son’s offensive approach provided a big boost in Lotte’s double-digit score en route to the win. The outcome was consistent with his numbers over his first six games when he hit for a .348 average with a .945 OPS.
Jeon Jun-woo (LF, Lotte Giants): 2-5, 2B, 3 R. Jeon also got in on the hit parade against the Bears, reaching base and scoring three times on the day. Before the game, he was hitting .333 with a 1.098 OPS and appears to be continuing that trend through Wednesday.
Kim Hyun-soo (LF, LG Twins): 3-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI. Kim led the way on offense for the Twins in their shellacking of the Wyverns, responsible for four of the 14 runs scored by LG. In a small sample of six games prior, he was hitting .462 with an OPS of 1.212 in 2020.
Chae Eun-sung (RF, LG Twins): 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI. Chae also had a day at the Twins’ expense, producing five runs of offense on his own in the blowout victory. Unlike the gaudy numbers of some entering Wednesday, he was batting .261 with a still-robust .849 OPS.
David Buchanan (Samsung Lions): 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 0 BB. While Buchanan has pitched overseas for going on four seasons now, a majority of his time was spent in the NPB where he was a high 4 ERA pitcher for the Yakult Swallows. The former Phillies KBO debut didn’t necessarily go as planned – 5 ER over 6 IP – but he bounced back in this most recent start by twirling an absolute gem.
Today's KBO K leader was:
David Buchanan of the Samsung Lions.
7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 8 K, 0 BB.
The placement of these K's in order: down, away, up, in, away, up, away, away. pic.twitter.com/D2zOLbkZC9
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) May 13, 2020
Buchanan started the game off slow with just 3 Ks through his first 4 IP of work before coasting through the order his third time around. Working all sides of the plate effectively, Buchanan also focused on mixing speeds to keep hitters off their toes. While I detailed the location of his K’s in the above GIF, let’s take a look at what the pitch selection was for each K: FB, CH, FB, CB, FB, CH, CH, FB.
Chan-gyu Lim (LG Twins) 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 7 K, 0 BB. The Twins right-hander made his 2020 season debut against one of the weaker offensive teams in the division in the SK Wyverns. Lim features Johnny Cueto-like mechanics where he’ll balance on that right leg briefly to throw off a hitters timing before launching forward. While Lim struggled with the command on his slow 12-6 CB early on, it didn’t cost him. Once he was able to locate the pitch low in the zone as intended, he began pairing the breaker very effectively with his upper 80’s fastball. What makes Lim’s performance all the more impressive was his ability to stay fresh despite a 40 minute bottom of the 2nd inning that saw the Twins put up an eight spot on the scoreboard.
Mike Wright (NC Dinos) 6 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 4 K, 2 BB. The NC Dinos have been surprising a lot of KBO fans to start the year. After finishing 5th in the KBO last seasons, they’re currently tied for first in the standings thanks to their league leading .512 SLG and some very good pitching from Drew Rucinski, Chang-mo Koo, and Mike Wright. While Wright wasn’t able to rack up the Ks like he did in his first start against the Lions, he was able to keep the ball in the yard and minimize threats on the base paths much more effectively. The former Oriole was able to induce a lot of weak contact with some well placed fastballs and sliders and though he suffered from little run support, the Dinos ended up winning this one in extra innings to move them to an impressive 6-1.
Thursday’s Key Matchup
Chang-mo Koo (NC Dinos) vs Je-seong Bae (KT Wiz): With the suspension of the MLB season, it’s impossible to live every day like it’s Nola Day. Instead, we should be living each day like it’s Chang-mo Day. The Dinos lefty features an electric slider paired with a very well-located fastball. He’ll look to keep the Dinos atop the KBO standings.
Chae-heung Choi (Samsung Lions) vs Seung-ho (Kiwoom Heroes): Lee While neither of these starting pitchers are likely to light up the strikeout leaderboards, they’re both quite good at inducing weak contact; a strategy that can lead to just as much success in the contact-happy KBO. Choi had a solid debut where he gave up 0 ER and just 1 H but walked 5 over 5 IP. Seung-ho earned the quality start in his debut going 6.2 IP with 2 ER, 3 K and 2 BB.
— Alex Fast
Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)