1. NC Dinos. Won 5, tied 1.
Ominously for the rest of the league, the Dinos have found a bit of form (they are unbeaten in 7 games) and now boast a 12 and 7 record, with one tie. They look the most likely team to overtake the Tigers at the summit and be the first club to reach the 20-win milestone.
Jeff Manship has settled really well, collecting 4 wins in as many starts with a WHIP of under 1. His last outing was a comfortable 6 and two-thirds inning win over Lotte, where he gave up two earned runs off 5 hits. Eric Hacker has 2 wins for a solid start too.
And then there’s Xavier Scruggs. The Californian first baseman, recruited to replace Eric Thames, is ranked joint second for homers (6), 4th for WAR and 5th for OPS (1.058). Mo Chang-min had a good week and his 20 RBIS is good enough for league second. Their offense has really exploded and now they can welcome back Park Suk-min.
Kt and Kia provide opposition this week.
2. SK Wyverns. Won 4, lost 2.
Another good week for the Wyverns, but perhaps a sense of disappointment that they failed to sweep Nexen and Doosan, two playoff teams last season, after winning the opening games in both series.
Still, this is a team that had to wait until the 7th game of 2017 before they recorded their first win. Since then, SK have won 11 (losing just 3) which is good enough for tied 3rd.
The batters are grabbing all the headlines. Choi Jeong is pulling clear in the home run race. The third baseman has 9, 3 clear of Scruggs, Lee Dae-ho and teammate Han Dong-min. In fact, you can find 4 SK batters with at least 5 for the season. In total, the Wyverns scored 38 runs this week, 10 more than they conceded. They’re definitely in form.
LG and Samsung away for the Wyverns this week.
3. LG Twins. Won 3, lost 3.
A stuttering couple of weeks ended with a thoroughly deserved series win over Kia Tigers. Sunday’s result was never in doubt once the pitchers were announced but Henri Sosa still put on a show.
It took Sosa 25 pitches to get through the first inning but he was never under pressure after. By the time he retired, he was looking at a 6-0 lead and a job well done. LG were probably unlucky to run into an in-form Yang Hyun-jeong on Saturday or it could have been a really good weekend.
The Twins found scores hard to come by in Daejeon during the week, losing Tuesday’s game to a walk off error in the 9th. But they’re hanging in there, guided by decent pitchers and Lee Hyun-jeong, their lead off, who is having an incredible season (0.391/0.434/0.580 line, and 5 stolen bases).
SK (home) and kt (away) provide opposition this week.
4. Kia Tigers. Won 3, lost 3.
A mixed week for the leaders as they dropped their first series of the season, against LG in Jamsil. Pat Dean, one of their “Fantastic Four” (says the Tigers media department), lost his first game in a Tigers uniform and Lim Chang-yong continued his excruciating start to the campaign.
But there were positives. Im Ki-yong has risen from nowhere to pitch his first complete game shutout. Lee Beom-ho returned from injury and Choi Hyeong-woo is starting to find his range.
Kim Min-sik again demonstrated his importance since leaving Incheon. The catcher, who doesn’t hit, was credited by current and former players for improving Yang Hyun-jeong’s pitching (Yang faced no full counts on Saturday), and the bullpen in general. Kim has also picked off nearly 90% of base stealers this season.
Samsung and NC (home) this week.
5. kt wizz. Won 2, lost 4.
It feels wrong adding kt to the list of playoff sides after another rotten week, but they sit in 5th spot, a game clear of the Lotte Giants and still, unbelievably, above .500.
They beat Kia and Hanwha once each this week but that’s pretty much where the positives end. In total, kt scored 19 runs (11 of those came in one game), and gave up 45. Sunday’s 14-1 humiliation at the hands of Hanwha the low point so far this season. 28 times a Hanwha player made base either through a hit or walk.
The wizz responded by sending pitcher Ju Kwon and left handed batsman Johnny Monell to the Futures League. NC (away) and LG provide opposition this week. The wizz will be out of the top 5 very soon.