1. Doosan Bears. Won 4, lost 0.
The Bears responded to their shattering sweep by LG by winning all 4 games last week; the SK Wyverns didn’t manage a single run in 18 innings (Tuesday was rained out) and then Lotte were brushed aside on Saturday and Sunday.
By far the biggest positive for Doosan was Jang Won-jun’s 9 inning squeeze on Wednesday, having not won a decision since April 11th. Four games had come and gone (3 defeats) and on no occasion did the 2-time KBO winner see out the 6th inning. However, on Wednesday he threw fewer than 100 pitches (4 hits, 0 walks, and 4 strikeouts) to ride out a very comfortable 7-0 win.
Doosan also recorded the best defensive and offensive stats throughout the week; team ERA 1.25, 0.89 WHIP, 1.015 OPS miles ahead of LG in second and only 1 recorded error.
2. kt wizz. Won 4, lost 2.
The highlight of their week, and arguably season so far, was the complete and utter domination they enjoyed over the leaders Kia Tigers. Much of the post series discussion centered on Ryan Feierabend throwing knuckleballs during a shut out 8 innings (2 hits, 1 walk) which included 10 strikeouts.
The entire pitching staff earned their bonuses on Wednesday and Thursday; 18 innings, 2 runs (1 earned), 5 hits, 2 balls. They even had time to chuck in a couple of errors and still look comfortable. Closer Kim Jae-Yoon has 10 saves with a 0.00 era across 12.1 innings of baseball (14 games).
To follow that with a winning series against the second-ranked team showed a lot of character from a club that was really beginning to struggle. They did this despite a high 4.50 era and the second most recorded errors.
3. Nexen Heroes. Won 3, lost 2.
The Heroes were one of 8 teams to have a rained out Tuesday but they still did enough to split a series with NC. At the weekend they won 2 games in Daegu, both 5-4, after Andy Van Hekken’s loss on Friday.
Van Hekken is not having his best season for the burgundy revolution and now owns a 2-3 record, with a 4.59 era and 1.32 WHIP. He lost the same number over the entire course of 2016 but has played only half the number of games.
Usually, Nexen pitching was one of the best in the league last week but their 0.622 OPS was second lowest and they hit the joint fewest number of homer runs (2).
4. Hanwha Eagles. Won 3, lost 2.
Alexi Ogando continued his good start to KBO life with a solid 8 inning win over Lotte Giants on Wednesday. He allowed only 1 run from 4 hits but got little help from his offense. Ogando is now 4-2 for the season and picked up wins in 3 of his last 4 games. He’s only had 2 bad starts (from 7) since moving here and when he wins, he tends to be very good.
The winning series in Jamsil was another tidy reminded that GrandslamKBO may have written them off too early. Kim Tae-gyun continues to defy age boasting a .407 average with 4 homers, 18 RBIs, and a 1.105 OPS. He had 7 hits at the weekend against the best defense in the league, including 2 home runs.
5. LG Twins. Won 3, lost 2.
Any week over a .500 average must be considered a good one but for LG, it probably doesn’t feel that way. Two won in Daegu should be the minimum requirement for any playoff contender and it was nice to see Cha Woo-chan receive a hero’s welcome from the Samsung faithful.
At the weekend though, they were twice beaten by a resurgent Hanwha Eagles. Ryu Jae-gook suffered a heavy loss on Saturday (10-0) whilst David Huff marked his return with a loss on Friday (4 innings, 3 earned runs). However, just having Huff back is a massive boost for the Twins.
6 SK Wyverns. Won 2, lost 3.
The Wyverns out-Kiaed the Tigers on Friday following successive shutout defeats to Doosan Bears midweek. In truth, Merrill Kelly really struggled to contain the Tigers offense for the opening 6 innings but SK punished some basic errors to turn a 0-2 deficit into a 5-2 game ending lead, with the help of a three-run bomb by Lee Jae-won. With their undoubted firepower, teams need to be wary about gifting opportunities with Kia essentially putting the game on a plate.
After a dispiriting loss to the Bears, the Kia series was badly needed and they probably saw a little of themselves in their table-topping opponents. Good pace to open the attack, an array of ball hitters following (SK clearly outshined Kia on home runs), solid starting pitchers and a wayward pen. Kim Kwang-hyun’s injury denies them that little bit extra Kia get from Yang Hyun-jeong.
They had the second highest WHIP last week (1.44) with the lowest team batting average (.198). But Kim Dong-yeop made sure all those stats are irrelevant with a walk-off series winning homer on Sunday.
7 NC Dinos. Won 2, lost 3.
Since convincingly taking a series in Gwangju a few weeks ago, the Dinos haven’t quite pushed on as expected with the Tigers still keeping them at arm’s length. They seem to be doing just about enough to win every second game without really overpowering supposedly weaker teams.
kt taking them apart wasn’t in the script, neither was Eric Hacker’s first loss. Their week was also noteworthy for giving up 10 fielding errors, way more than anyone else.
8. Kia Tigers. Won 2, lost 4.
The Tigers were beaten at their own game on Friday when a succession of really poor examples of base running, comedy errors and wasted opportunities led a previously uninspiring SK back into the game, and from there they totally wrestled control of the ballgame. Kia have regularly watched opponents out-hit them all season and then capitalize, with a couple of power innings, to take the win. In Munhak they got a taste of their own medicine, and it wasn’t sweet.
On Saturday there were indebted to some Choi Hyeong-woo magic as the slugger hit two 2-run homers (9th and 11th innings) before Yang Hyun-jeong experienced his first ND of the season. Sunday’s loss was a classic. A 3-3 game into the 9th. A new pitcher, Park Ji-hoon, takes centre stage. First pitch. BOOOM. Walk off home run. Just like that.
9. Lotte Giants. Won 1, Lost 3.
Lotte’s form over the past few weeks hasn’t been particularly strong and this has seen the slowly slide down the table and into 9th position. The tightness of this league means that every team, aside from Samsung, should still think reaching the playoffs is a viable option at this early stage. However, Lotte can’t afford to keep dropping series against the teams around them in the table.
On a positive note, Song Seung-Jun has enjoyed his best start to a campaign for 4 years. Since joining the Giants in 2007, Song has been a really important member of the roster but injuries and a loss of form have really caught up with the 36-year-old recently. However, he moved on to 3-0 for the season, pitching 5.2 innings of one-run baseball against Hanwha. His wins (3), total strikeouts (36) and WAR (0.97) are all good enough for top 15 in this league.
10. Samsung Lions. Won 1, Lost 4.
7 wins all season. They’re done.