1. Are we about to see a new team reach the KBO summit soon?
Despite a respectable 3 wins from 5 last week, the Kia Tigers’ prolonged hold on top spot hasn’t look this vulnerable for two months. The reason is that the NC Dinos are absolutely killing it now, winning 5 games last week and 9 of their last 12.
They’re 0.5 games back on 1st and 2 wins shy of 40 for the season. The smart money must be on the Tigers reaching 40 first, like they did for 10, 20 and 30. But 50? The Dinos have a tough week ahead of them, with back-to-back series in Seoul against Nexen and Doosan. The underperforming Choi Keum-gang gets the week rolling against the impressive Hero, Han Hyeon-hee.
All in all last week, NC had the best pitching and batting stats – 2.09 team ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 0.331 batting average (surpassed only by the Tigers), a league best OPS and their 10 home runs bettered only by Doosan. Individually, Xavier Scruggs had another good week, knocking over 3 homers and collecting 9 RBIS. Ku Chang-mo (1-0, 7IP, 0 earned runs) and Lee Jae-hak (1-0, 7IP, 1 earned run) were also impressive as part of a pitching roster which shut out Lotte and kt on one occasion each. Times are good in Masan. This week will give us a clear picture of where they’re at.
2. Yang Hyun-jeong falters but Roger Bernadina proves his worth.
An OK week for Kia, winning comfortably against the mediocre Hanwha Eagles and then dropping a home series to Nexen Heroes. Im Ki-yong collected his second complete game shut out of 2017 and Jeong Yong-eun won successive games to confirm his status as Kia’s fifth starter.
Yang Hyun-jeong was awful again and the Tigers’ ace has not won a game since May 9th (5 games). But how good is Roger Bernadina now? This author will admit to having reservations about the lead off initially but he crushed all the naysayers following a superb week with the bat. 12 hits from 23 at bats, 3 home runs, 7 runs scored and 8 RBIS. His on base percentage of .565 was bettered ugly by Doosan’s Kim Jae-hwan. A fine week for the Kia CF. The Korean media are already speculating if he’ll be the first Tiger since Lee Jong-beom to reach the 30-30 club.
3. LG had a good week but why can’t they hit home runs?
In 59 games, LG have 30 home runs. Last week, they recorded 0 despite winning 4 games from 5 and annihilating SK Wyverns 19-1 on Sunday. Despite the 8 walks, they still managed 18 hits. They had plenty of extra base hits (6) on Sunday, however no souvenir items for outfield fans.
In total, LG scored 41 runs in 5 games. It does seem strange that none of those came via the long ball. During Sunday’s humiliation of SK, Han Dong-min cracked his 20th home run of 2017 for the Wyverns. It doesn’t really need highlighting that Han Dong-min plus one of Choi Jeong, Kim Dong-yeop and Jamie Romak together have hit more than the entire Twins team.
Luis Jimenez has the most with 7. But. But. LG are ahead of SK in the table, despite the latter ripping a scarcely believable 104 in 61 games. It is just interesting to see a team competing despite possessing any recognizable offense. Their team average, on base and slugging are all bottom half. But 4th they sit.
4. Oh Jae-won suspended for 2 games, but is he harshly treated by fans of other teams?
When videos began circulating of Oh Jae-won’s expulsion from Doosan’s 7-6 loss on Saturday to Lotte, it would be fair to say sympathy was in very short supply. It wasn’t just that Oh had seemingly overreacted to a borderline strike out call in a league where obvious balls are counted as strikes. The problem is that most people just don’t like the man.
A very good point was made on mykbo.net that foreign fans regularly bemoan the poor umpiring work and also the ajosshi culture which dominates games. The umpires always seem to have a very thin skin when dealing with confrontation, too. So why was exception made against Oh? Undoubtedly his demeanour on the field has rubbed people the wrong way and he does carry the “hold me back” look wherever he goes.
Yet anyone who has met him speaks highly of the man. Should we cut him some slack?
5. All Star voting leaves a sour taste.
Firstly, I don’t really care about the KBO All-Star. There aren’t enough teams so we tend to see the same match ups on a regular basis and the system of voting usually benefits the best supported teams.
First round voting for 2017 already looks like All Star being Kia Tigers v Doosan Bears. There’s no fun in that. Parking loyalties is important here. I support the Tigers but it is faintly ridiculous that relief pitcher Kim Yoon-dong has collected more votes than the best set up man in the KBO, Kim Jin-sung. Yang Hyun-jeong, in dreadful form, has nearly 400,000 votes over Nexen’s Shin Jae-yeong. In fact, only one NC player would be selected if voting stopped tonight, and yet they’re 0.5 games back from first.