Recapping Day 11 of the KBO

All you need to know from Day 11 of KBO action.

Saturday’s KBO games brought us dynamism, as three teams were held to just one run while two others in separate games poured it on en route to blowouts. The NC Dinos (9-1) weathered strong starting pitching from the SK Wyverns to squeak out a 2-1 win and maintain their two game lead over the Lotte Giants and LG Twins. SK has now lost eight in a row. Meanwhile, the KT Wiz and Kia Tigers put on some of their best offensive performances as they cruised to wins.

Miss some of the action from last night? Click on the links below to watch!

NC Dino: 2, KC Wyvern, 1

LG Twins: 3, Kiwoom Heroes: 1 (game 1)

LG Twins: 5, Kiwoom Heroes: 3 (game 2)

Lotte Giants: 5, Hanwha Eagles, 1

KT Wiz: 10, Samsung Lions: 4

Kia Tigers: 13, Doosan Bears, 3


Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Tim Jackson and Jai Correa:


Best Hitters


Preston Tucker (RF, Kia Tigers): 4-4, HR, 2B, 3 R, 7 RBI. In this space a week ago, I noted Tucker registered his first two walks of the season and could continue to see opportunities from the three-hole. He’s made regular appearances since then and blew up Saturday’s game all by himself, contributing to more runs being created alone than in four other games in KBO combined. He’s racked up an additional four walks in the last week and has a wRC+ that looks like one and a half Mike Trouts through 11 games for the sixth place Tigers.

Ji-wan Na (LF, Kia Tigers): 2-4, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB. Na’s first inning home run was his second of the season. Having begun his 13th season with the team, his production isn’t quite what it used to be, but socking a dinger once a week could still carve out a positive narrative. His batting average is up to .264 and he could be warming up after hitting just .186 in 56 games last year.

Dong-min Han (RF, SK Wyvern): 2-3, HR, R, RBI, BB. There isn’t usually much to write home about in a 2-1 game, especially if you’re on the losing side. That’s not quite the case for Han, though. His second inning bomb to rightfield nearly went into orbit but settled for the vacant outfield seats. Our guy is up to five homers through 10 games and might be onto something. He’s had wild home run totals in the last three years, going from 29 to 41 to 12 from 2017-19, but he’s clearly feeling it early in 2020.

Jin-sung Kang (1B, NC Dinos): 2-3, R, SB. This is not a line that will be inspiring any fragrance commercials, but still brings some fun to those of us reading and learning about the KBO. A steal? By a first baseman? Oh, yeah. Kang had exactly two steals in 117 games over parts of four seasons, and they both came in 2019. Embrace it, but don’t get used to it.

Ah-seop Son (DH, Lotte Giants): 2-5, 2B, R. Another performance that looks ordinary but isn’t, though for a reason different than Kang’s above. Son has stroked at least 22 doubles a season dating back all the way to 2010, or ever since he became a full time player, and he’s starting 2020 on pace to do it again. Talk about reliability. Oh, and his run scored in the fifth was the game winner.

Jun-woo Jeon (LF, Lotte Giants): 3-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB. I like to call lines like Jeon’s last night an everything bagel. I’ve been doing it since this morning. Here’s the gist: you take a little bit of production in nearly every category, sprinkle it over one game, and get a delicious performance. Jeon has evolved and grown into power throughout his 13 year career, pushing 40 extra base hits or more in most seasons. He’s already up to seven in just 10 games this year.

Jeong-dae Bae (CF, KT Wiz): 2-4, 3 RBI, SB. The Wiz put up a four-spot in the first inning but didn’t stop there. Bae led the charge in peppering in a couple of singles through the middle of the game that drove in three runs. His steal, just his third in more than 200 KBO games, came in the third inning. This type of performance is about what we should expect, as Bae has only ever stroked one homer in his career.

Baek-ho Kang (1B, KT Wiz): 3-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI, BB. This, too, is an everything bagel, and perhaps with more spice (a first baseman knocking a triple?!). The 20-year-old’s average is up to a beefy .333 in the early going and it certainly hasn’t been empty. He’s already up to seven extra base hits in 2020. His third season in KBO seems like it’s going to be one to keep your eyes on, and if he keeps it up he might not give you a choice.

Hak-ju Lee (SS, Samsung Lions): 2-4, 2B, R. Lee was one of the lone bright spots for the Lions in their 10-4 drubbing by KT. His fifth inning double helped get things going and made it look like we might have a game, as Samsung plated three of their four runs then. This kind of game could be close to the ceiling for the shortstop, as he’s never registered more than seven homers in any professional season since he debuted in 2009.

Tim Jackson


Best Pitchers


Kim Tae-hoon (SK Wyverns): 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 98 pitches. For the second straight day, an SK Wyverns starter dominating the NC Dinos – only to lose the game after a late-inning bullpen implosion. Imposing himself on the opposition, Kim did not allow a runner to move past second base in his outing while striking out six. In his last outing, Kim allowed two earned runs over six innings, while his two past seasons have resulted in ERA’s below four, making himself a very reliable starter behind Moon Seung-won.

Casey Kelly (LG Twins): 6 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 5 K, 2 BB, 81 pitches. After being roughed up in his last start, giving up five earned runs and eight hits over two measly innings, Kelly was able to rebound to get a win over the Heroes in the first game of an eventual doubleheader sweep the Twins. Kelly escaped jams in the fourth and sixth innings, exuding the resilience from his past start to this one. Coming off a season in which he recorded a 2.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP across 180 1/3 innings, Kelly has seemingly righted the ship back to his normal ways.

Kim Min (KT Wiz): 6 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 6 K, 3 BB, 97 pitches. The Wiz dominated the first three innings of this game and got a much-needed victory in the process, further distancing themselves from the Wyverns at the bottom of the table. While his offense exploded for seven runs through the first three innings, Kim was perfect during that span. Since the game was out of reach early, Kim’s struggles in the fifth, where he allowed three earned runs and five men to reach, were not relevant to the outcome.

Yang Hyun-jong (Kia Tigers): 6 IP, 2 ER, 6 H, 7 K, 2 BB, 97 pitches. The Tigers, similar to the Wiz, also jumped out to an early 8-0 lead, backed by a scorching Preston Tucker, with Yang keeping the Bears at bay. Yang attained the most strikeouts for starters on Saturday – a tie with Heroes starter Han Hyun-hee – striking out at least one hitter in every inning except the fifth. A home run by the Bears’ second baseman Choi Joo-hwan resulted in both runs against Yang, though practically irrelevant as the game had already been decided by the large discrepancy in the score.


Sunday’s Key Matchup

Raul Alcantara (Doosan Bears) vs. Aaron Brooks (Kia Tigers): The Bears and Tigers are currently separated by 1.5 games in the standings and will play the rubber match in their weekend series. Alcantara has been roughed up in his first two starts with a 5.73 ERA and 1.82 WHIP combined, so Bears fans will hope he figures out his struggles in an important early-season game. Conversely, Brooks has been lights out with a 1.42 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in his first two starts and will look to continue his success to push the Tigers up to second in the standings with the Giants and Twins.

— Jai Correa

Featured image by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)

Alex Fast

An FSWA award winner for Research Article of the Year, Alex is the co-host of On The Corner and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch. He received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

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