Andrew Farrell, Brian Richards, Bryan Schelling, Danny K, Doosan Bears, Featured writer, Hanwha Eagles, Kane Mason, KIA Tigers, KT Wiz, LG Twins, Lotte Giants, Matthew Care, Michael Delgado,, NC Dinos, Nexen Heroes, Power rankings, Predictions, Ryan Keunsang Park, Samsung Lions, Sean Pratt, SK Wyverns

The 2017 Korean Series champions are…..?

Now that the 2017 All Star break is over, we can look forward to the second half of what has been an enthralling season so far.

The Kia Tigers defied the critics by marching to the summit and then staying there. Doosan Bears, back-to-back champions, have been stuck in 3rd gear but remain a decent bet to defend their title again. SK Wyverns bounced back from a dreadful start to hit well over 100 home runs. Samsung Lions, meanwhile, flirted with the possibility of 100 losses but are now off the foot and heading for 8th.

What will happen in the second half of the season? History shows us one team – usually LG Twins – breaks free of the stragglers to win an unexpected playoff spot. Some of Grand Slam’s podcast contributers this season offer their opinion.

 Matthew Care

1. KIA: Phenomenal offense. Batting 0.310 as a team which sets a season record if maintained. Starting pitchers are also on form. Can’t see them dropping 8 games. Perhaps 4 or 5. No more than that.

2. NC: Jeff Manship is back which should take a lot of the strain off of the bullpen. They looked strong in the early part of the season, but injuries to Manship,  Xavier Scruggs, Lee HoJun and Na SungBum saw them drop a few games. With all of them back in action NC should be able to eat into KIA’s lead and sure up second spot 3 or 4 games back from the Tigers.

3. SK: Under Trey Hillmam they’ve enjoyed a steady improvement in all departments. The unreliability of a couple of their starters has hurt them though (recently vs LG) and they’ll likely finish 7 or 8 games off of top spot.

4. Nexen: Defensively Nexen are looking strong, and they don’t seem to be missing Yun SeokMin as much as one would have thought. It’ll be close, but assuming all of their players can remain healthy then they should be able to secure the 4th spot 11 games back.

5. Doosan Bears: Even though Michael Bowden has just come back, Doosan have drifted away from the leaders recently. A lack of offense, and a lack-lustre bullpen have let them down. If they can’t win the big series vs their rivals for 4th/5th (Nexen, Lotte and LG) then they will drop out of the playoff picture all-together. 12 games back from KIA.

6. Lotte Giants: Lotte started the season well enough offensively, but were let down by the bullpen, and three starting pitchers not pulling their weight for wins. Now that Lotte have picked up Josh Lindblom, and gotten Andy Burns and Jo JeongHun back they will be much more stable going forward. They’ll just catch the fifth place spot a game back from Nexen if they can finish the season with a winning record against LG, Doosan and Nexen. 13 games back from KIA.

7. LG Twins: LG have a brilliant defensive game, but versus stronger pitchers they struggle to put numbers on the board. 14 games back from KIA LG will just miss out on the playoffs in the mad scramble at the end of the season. Same as Doosan and Lotte. A winning record versus their playoff contention rivals will be pivotal if they are to make the wild-card spot.

8. Samsung Lions: The young rebuild team seems to have finally gelled and started stringing wins together. Given the lack of production from their imports it’s hard to see Samsung pushing for playoff contention, but there are some positive signs for the seasons ahead. They’ll finish the season 22 wins back from first place.

9. Hanwha Eagles: Following the release of Kim SungGeun, the team seems to lack vision and inspiration. While they perform to their potential on occasion, they struggle to maintain consistency. New management and better coaching could see them overcome this next season. This year Hanwha settling on an interim manager shows that they don’t intend to offer that support to the team this season. They’ll finish 24 wins back from first.

10. kt have struggled each year since their expansion. Losing key draft players in shortsighted trades in their first year has weakened the team’s potential for growth, though they may be aiming to improve further in the off-season following their acquisition of Yun SukMin from Nexen. Almost 30 games back as it stands it’s difficult to imagine kt salvaging anything from this season. They’ll finish 31 wins back from first.


Wildcard Series: Nexen Heroes vs Doosan Bears

Doosan will win game 1 after a strongly contested and highly defensive game. In game 2 they will use Jang WonJun or Nippert with an eye towards the playoff semi-finals. This decision will be their undoing and an early flurry from Nexen within the first 3 innings will secure the final playoff spot for Nexen.
Playoff Semi-Final: SK Wyverns vs Nexen Heroes
After a hard win vs Doosan, Nexen will lose the first two games to the back end of their rotation. Game 3 will be well contested, but Nexen will pull out a win in the 8th or 9th inning after a Wyverns bullpen implosion. Game 4 will see Merrill Kelly start (and win) his second game of the series to give a 3-1 win to the Wyverns.
Playoff Final: NC Dinos vs SK Wyverns
NC will be fresher after their longer break and will start strongly with Hacker and Manship picking up the first two wins in the series. SK will pull back games 3 and 4, the latter likely in extra innings, but the lack of availability for Merrill Kelly for the first two games of the series will have taken it’s toll on the SK bullpen. By game 5 they will be spent and will fall apart against the Dino’s offense.
Korean Series: KIA Tigers vs NC Dinos
KIA will have gotten a little rust in their gears which will likely allow NC to take a 2-0 lead in the series. Following a refresher course in how to hit KIA will put away the bottom of NC’s order, and steal a win from Manship in game 4 to make it 2-2. A hard contest between Im KiYoung and Hacker will allow NC to retake the lead in game 5, but again KIA’s offense will prove too much for the Dinos in game 6. While both will be strong contenders in game 7, NC’s bullpen will rise to the occasion and will finish out the series by a difference of just 1 run in NC Dinos’ first Korean Series win.

Champions: NC Dinos.

Michael Delgado

1. Kia: Their bullpen may be a shambles, but with an offense that considers 7 runs a pedestrian performance and a rotation that includes Hector Noesi, Yang Hyun Jong, and could still see Yoon Suk Min at some point, it would take a major collapse to see the Tigers blow an 8 game lead.

2. NC: When healthy and firing on all cylinders, NC may be the most complete team in the league. Though their offense isn’t as explosive as Kia’s, their pitching picks up that slack. Arguably the only team with a solid bullpen in the entire league, they lead SK by only 2 games at the time of writing, but those 2 games come from having 4 games in hand on the Wyverns and the same number of wins. The Dinos will be back to full strength by September and could be a real threat.

3. SK: The Home Run team has some glaring concerns that will juuuust keep them from edging NC for the third spot, but it wouldn’t be a shock if a run of good form snuck them into 2nd at least a time or two between now and the end of the year. The one dimensional offense at times still worries me, as does (shocker) the bullpen, but SK have shown they’re here for a fight this season.

4. Nexen: Even without Yoon Suk Min, the boys in the fishbowl have been staking their claim to be the pride of Seoul for this season. An already serviceable 2016 side lost very little, while gaining key pieces in the emergence of Lee Jung Hu and Han Hyun Hee. If Han can return from injury in time for the postseason, the notoriously small Heroes fanbase will swell come September.

5. Doosan: Though an aging pitching staff seems to be nearing the end of its dominant era and the offense has fallen off a touch from 2016, it is hard to suggest that the 2 time defending champions will be watching from their couches come the postseason. They’ll do just enough to capitalize on mistakes from other clubs and just sneak in.

6. Lotte: On paper, the Giants are a top 4 team in this league. But the games aren’t played on paper. They’ll put pressure on Doosan and may even overtake them a time or two, but in the end it will be questionable game management that sinks the ship in Busan yet again. Perhaps a new skipper emerges next year.

7. LG: The return of 7G will come down to an anemic offense in an offensively dominated league. They’ve had pretty solid starting pitching much of the season, but the bats just haven’t come around. Yet to be seen if James Loney, acquired the day of writing, is the key cog to make me look foolish.

8. Hanwha: The lovable losers of the KBO dug themselves a hole early and despite some good numbers from top players, the roster depth isn’t quite enough to lug them back out of that hole. Maybe next year, in a full season under a new regime, with some additions in the pitching staff, this team could reverse its stereotype.

9. Samsung: My how the mighty have fallen. The pitching has been dreadful and the bats not much better. Barring a decent stretch in early June, the season has been a complete loss in Daegu. Their dynasty is well and truly over, time to start from square 1 in the off-season as the last true piece of the great Samsung era will most likely ride off into retirement after this year. Farewell Lion King, you deserved a better final chapter.

10. kt: The newest team in the league continues to remind us they are the newest team in the league. The addition of Yoon Suk Min may help, but ultimately it will still be a couple years before draftees come up through the system to replace a series of aging, mediocre players from the expansion draft that form the core of the team. wiz fans must be holding their breath hoping they can retain Feierabend next year.

Playoff predictions:

(4) Nexen def. (5) Doosan
The KBO wild card system means that even if Nippert throws a gem in the game and gets the Bears by the Heroes, Nexen gets a second crack at it. I think that’s what happens, but in that second crack the Heroes sink Jang and the Bears, ending their title streak.

(3) SK def (4) Nexen in 4 games.
Nexen probably has more pitching depth, but their rotation will be misaligned after facing Doosan. Merrill Kelly should beat any Nexen starter in game 1, and if Scott Diamond can be serviceable against Nexen’s #3 or 4 in game 2, all the pressure would be on the Heroes in game 3. A game I see them winning, before being ousted in game 4.

(2) NC def (3) SK in 5 games
This one comes down to pitching and rest. NC has the better arms overall, and a healthy Dinos squad can go toe to toe with anyone. Unless Kelly gets the ball in game 1 or 2, Hacker and Manship will be tough to beat, and in a 5 game series it’s hard to recover when you’re put on your heels.

(1) Kia def (2) NC in 6 games

I wrestled with this one quite a bit. Ultimately, the 3 weeks of recovery that Kia will have before this series will allow them to get healthy, whereas NC will have come off a battle with SK. A thrilling series, but the Kia offense takes the edge.

Champions: Kia Tigers.

Andrew Farrell

1. KIA Tigers. This is far from a perfect roster, especially in the bullpen, but the Tigers are a team dripping with confidence right now. A slump is inevitable but they could be so far ahead, it won’t make a difference. For the first time in years, they have good lead offs and batting rotation that doesn’t stop after 6.

2. NC Dinos. Very good, but not brilliant. The Dinos could well end up closer to the Wyverns in third than Kia in first. They have, comfortably, the best bullpen and closer in the league, but are struggling with starting pitchers further down the roster and injuries to key players halting progress. Recent form has been abysmal.

3. SK Wyverns. Recently, they’ve become a more rounded offensive unit, not having to rely almost solely on the long ball. Their team is stacked with excellent batters but weakness does exist in the bullpen. However, they won’t fear anyone and a title shot versus Kia remains a serious possibility.

4. Doosan Bears. They could win it from 4th but they remain maddeningly inconsistent right now. Their Fantastic Four have all suffered this season and injuries to major players like Yang Yi-ji forces them to go deeper in their roster. We all expected them to eventually burst into life, but it just hasn’t happened and it doesn’t look likely. Will have to win it the hard way.

5. LG Twins. Picking 4th to 7th is a really difficult thing to do, and these choices could change on a weekly basis. But I’m backing the Twins because history shows us they know how to make a charge (2014 and 2016). They have 5 very good starting pitchers and a decent bullpen. Scoring runs is a weakness.

6. Nexen Heroes. I just think they lack a bit of depth in virtually every position which will count against them. The decision to trade Yoon Suk-min remains a mystery. Their bullpen is poor but they’ve fibally dumped Danny Dorn. They’ll be close but just miss out.

7. Lotte Giants. A couple of games back and probably where they’ll end. They should be stronger with the return of Lindblom to join Brooks Raley and Park SeWoong. Bullpen is a major problem and their batting card is a level or two below the best teams. The KBO will be hoping they make it; there’s nothing like a packed Sajik in October. However, this might be a year too soon.

8. Hanwha Eagles. Another season of disappointment in Daejeon, despite the best efforts of Grand Slam favorite, Wilin Rosario. Hanwha, on form, have a reasonable line up but they’re very far from challenging.

9. Samsung Lions. They were on course for a good June until the Tigers humbled them. 8th is a possibility but they’re unlikely to advance beyond that.

10. Kt wizz. Even after a bright start, 9th was their target but July has been a mess. They lost 8 straight before a much needed win over Samsung. Yoon Suk-min will add a bit of power but their season has probably gone as far as it can go.

Playoffs: Doosan to eliminate LG before the Wyverns dump out the defending champions. I can’t pick a winner between NC and SK. If SK wins, the Tigers are champions. If NC win, they win it all. Hmmm. NC by a nose.

Champions: NC Dinos.

Danny K.

1. KIA: They will continue to outscore anyone in the league.

2. NC: The Dinos will hope their trio of foreign players stays healthy to make a run at the Tigers.

3. Doosan: The champs figure it out and they know what it takes to play Fall Ball

4. SK: Hillman and his sluggers will lead SK to the playoffs.

5. LG: The Twins sneak in to the Dance with Loney contributing and Huff returning just in time for the wild card.

6. Nexen: The Heroes will do their best to stay in the mix, but will eventually fall in the fall.

7. Lotte: The Giants will scratch and claw their way into the wild card mix, but will not quite get over the hump despite the resurrgence of Raley and return of Lindblom.

8. Samsung: The Lions begin to play better in the 2nd half to help send the Lion King off on a slightly postive note.

9. Hanwha: It’s Hanwha.

10. KT: It’s KT

Playoffs: SK beats LG in the wild card
Doosan takes down the Wyverns
NC finally downs the Bears
KIA’s too strong for the Dinos and they bring the trophy back to Gwangju.

Champions: KIA Tigers.

Ryan Keunsang Park.

1. KIA Tigers
2. Doosan Bears
3. NC Dinos
4. SK Wyverns
5. Nexen Heroes
6. LG Twins
7. Lotte Giants
8. Samsung Lions
9. Hanwha Eagles
10. kt wizz

KIA Tigers vs NC Dinos.

Champion: KIA Tigers.

Sean Pratt

1. KIA Tigers
2. NC Dinos
3. Doosan Bears
4. SK Wyverns
5. LG Twins
6. Nexen Heroes
7. Lotte Giants
8. Sansung Lions
9. Hanhwa Eagles
10. KT wizz

SK beats LG

Doosan beats SK

Doosan beats NC

Korean Series
KIA beats Doosan in game 7
Choi Hyung-Woo is the MVP

Champions: Kia Tigers.

Kane Mason.

1. Kia Tigers
2. Doosan Bears
3. NC Dinos
4. SK Wyverns
5. Lotte Giants
6. LG Twins
7. Nexen Heroes
8. Hanhwa Eagles
9. Samsung Lions
10. KT wizz

Doosan Bears v Kia Tigers in the Korean Series.

Champion: Doosan Bears.

Brian Richards

1. Kia Tigers
2. NC Dinos
3. SK Wyverns
4. Nexen Heroes
5. LG Twins
6. Lotte Giants
7. Doosan Bears
8. Samsung Lions
9. Hanwha Eagles
10. kt wizz

LG wins wild card

SK win in a long series

NC beats SK. And NC beat Kia in 6 or 7.

Champion: NC Dinos.

Bryan Schelling 

1. NC Dinos
2. KIA Tigers
3. Doosan Bears
4. SK Wyverns
5. Nexen Heroes
6. LG Twins
7. Lotte Giants
8. Hanwha Eagles
9. Samsung Lions
10. KT wizz

4. SK defeats 5. Nexen in their playoff game(s)
Doosan defeats SK in first playoff series.
Doosan defeats Kia in second playoff series in a game 5 in Gwangju against Noesi Hector and puts a dagger right through Andrew Farrell’s heart.
NC defeats Doosan in finals.
1. NC should have a good second half of the season now that they are starting to get healthier. I think that they have the best pitching in the league when looking at both their starters and bullpen. Their offense is also a force to be reckoned with 나성범, 박석민, 모창민 and Xavier Scruggs. It finally looks like all of them are healthy for the first time this season. Only being 8 games back of Kia and having 4 (or more) head to head matches with Kia remaining, I see them putting Kia back to second place before the end of the season.

2. Kia has been playing well the entire season, even embarrassing teams on numerous occasions. They are officially the new bandwagon team of Korea, with all of their fans dusting their gear off and coming out now that they are winning. They also haven’t had to deal with many injuries to their top players, no matter what Kia fans will try and have you believe. They have had plenty of chances to rest starters throughout the season and have yet to do so (if you don’t believe me, take a look into their stats a bit deeper). At some point, fatigue or injuries will catch up to them and cost them first place and an automatic trip to the Korean Series. Though Kia’s offense may carry them and bail them out through the regular season, offense doesn’t win in the championships and that has been proven time after time after time. I am a firm believer in karma and them embarrassing teams on numerous occasions will come back to them…I just hope it’s at a time when it will strike a dagger through their fans/bandwagon followers’ hearts.

3. This brings me to my next team, Doosan. I say they will have a solid enough second half once they get completely healthy. Thanks박세웅 for breaking 양의지 and 민병헌’s hand in back to back batter and nearly hitting 민병헌 in the face with a fast ball way up and in. Let’s just say he won’t get any well wishes from me any time soon (he would’ve got his clock cleaned for that stunt in the MLB). After spending the entire first half of the season with Bowden throwing under 20 innings due to injuries really hurt them. They have seen their other pitchers struggle mightily as well (including Mr. Money aka Dustin Nippert) who haven’t been able to throw first pitch strikes, walked far too many batters, and not get outs when being up in counts. Don’t even get me started on Doosan’s bullpen, some nights they are on, other nights it they look like they are children of the poor out their trying to pitch against professionals. If Doosan wants any chance in the playoffs they will not 이현승 aka 이현패 touch the field. With all that said, I still think Doosan is better than the other teams I have below them. When they get healthy, they will finish the season strong and in third.

4. SK is an up and coming team, but in the end I believe that their pitching will eventually let them down. They have a pretty prolific offense, but again offense isn’t going to win you playoff series. They have Merrill Kelly, but there haven’t been too many other pitchers that have really stood out to me after him (though Scott Diamond has been known to through decently now and again). Their bullpen is atrocious and I believe it will fail them very quickly in the playoffs.

5. Nexen, the team that always seems to give away talent any time that they have it and still make the playoffs every season. I believe it will be the same old same old for Nexen this season and they will see another quick playoff exit after going and losing to SK in the 4/5 playoff spot.

6. With the injury to David Huff, I just don’t see LG being able to keep pace in the playoff hunt relying mainly on Henry Sosa to pitch out of his mind. Their other pitchers are…..well 차우찬 and 류재국 (both with 7-5 records at the time I wrote this). I can see a couple of poor starts from them pretty much sealing LG’s fate.

7. Lotte is in the same position as LG, they don’t have much in the way of solid starting pitching that can be relied on night after night. Their bullpen is also a disaster. They can get the offense going, but it is just not going to be enough to overcome subpar pitching on a regular basis…and 박세웅, yeah, no well wishes from me.

8. Hanwha will always be the team that I cheer for after Doosan. It is hard to not cheer for them and not want to see them win. Year after year, with solid teams they still find ways to lose. I do love watching Willin Rosario aka the ‘Baby Bull’ from his days with my hometown team the Colorado Rockies. I would sure like to see him have more opportunities to call games from behind the plate. The one thing that the Eagles will win every year is best uniforms, come on, who doesn’t love those orange and black colors together?

9. Samsung has had a pitiful season, but they still won’t finish behind KT. Their high point in the season was booing 최형우 every time he came to the plate or touched a ball during the all-star game. Some said it was ‘low class’ I call it ‘class’. It will be a very disappointing finish to 이승엽’s career sadly.

10. KT if the preseason counts for anything then they were champions of that! I wonder how long it will be before they can get a team together that can climb out of the cellar. I do think it will be sooner than later, but I think at some point they will always be like Nexen…they can make the playoffs, but that is about it.

4 thoughts on “The 2017 Korean Series champions are…..?”

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