Recapping Day 26 of the KBO

All you need to know from Day 26 of KBO action.

The KBO constantly reminds us all of how the game should be played. Instead of going through some brief highlights, I just want to share this moment between Twins pitcher Casey Kelly and Lions batter Kim Sang-soo after Kelly inadvertently hit Kim with a pitch:

In a world where apologies are apparently a faux-pas, a brief-but-sincere moment like this has great meaning. This is why I love the KBO.


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

KT Wiz: 7, Doosan Bears: 0

SK Wyverns: 6, NC Dinos: 8

Kiwoom Heroes: 6, Hanwa Eagles: 2

Samsung Lions: 12, LG Twins: 6

Lotte Giants: 2, Kia Tigers: 11

Let’s take a look at the top performers from the day, brought to you by Scott Chu and Alex Fast.


Best Hitters

Kim Ho-ryeong (CF, Kia Tigers): 3-4, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI, SB. After making an excellent first impression for the 2020 season yesterday by swatting a home run on the first pitch of his first game of the season, Kim followed it up with an even better all-around performance. The 28-year-old hasn’t demanded much attention in years past as a serviceable but unimpressive regular, but he’s off to about as hot of a start as you can get. He should hold on to the lead off spot for at least another few games and could even keep the spot to himself if he can keep making hard contact.

Mel Rojas Jr. (LF, KT Wiz): 3-5, HR, 3 RBI. That’s three consecutive games with at least a home run and at least  three RBI and he has a hit in all but 2 games so far this season as he extended his hitting streak to eight games. Despite a fairly mediocre walk-to-strikeout ratio, he’s in the top four in doubles, home runs, runs, RBI, batting average, OPS, and wRC+ and remains one of the premier power threats of the KBO.

Choi Jeong (3B, SK Wyverns): 2-4, BB. The 16-year veteran has been off to a slow start for the Wyverns, hitting just .208/.390/.364 in his first 24 games leading into today’s contest. He’s hit at least 29 home runs in each of the last four seasons and led the KBO in home runs in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017. While he didn’t find any extra base power today, he is on a five game hitting streak that the Wyverns hope is the spark he needs to ignite his season as the Wyverns continue trying to crawl out from their miserable start to the season.

Na Sung-bum (RF, NC Dinos): 3-4, 2B, HR, 2R, 2 RBI, BB.  After reeling off five consecutive multi-hit games, Na had hit a bit of a wall, going just 3-16 with one extra base hit, one run, one RBI, and one walk over his last four games. Thankfully for NC Dinos fans, Na broke out in a big way in this one, helping to end the Wyverns winning streak and help the Dinos maintain their spot at the top of the standings. The former 10th overall pick of the 2012 KBO draft is a six-time All Star and is well on his way to a seventh after missing out in 2019 due to an injury that kept him out for much of the year.

Lee Won-seok (3B, Samsung Lions): 2-4, 2B, HR, 2 R, 8 RBI, BB. Somehow, this is Lee’s second game in his last seven appearances where he’s driven in five or more base runners. What’s even crazier about this game is that he drove in all six of the eight runs over the course of just two innings. He smacked a bases-loaded double in the fourth to drive in three, then  followed it up in the fifth with a three run home run. The other two were just icing on the cake in the form of a single in the ninth. Apart from a mild spike in 2018, the veteran third baseman has never really put upo eye-popping numbers in his KBO career. It’s hard to say what Lee has going (likely a mix of good fortune and a run of success from Tyler Saladino), but the Lions could use some more of it.

Kim Hyun-soo (LF, LG Twins): 2-5, R. Two straight losses by the Twins is tough to swallow as they try to catch up to the Dinos, and it’s even harder to swallow when the two-man wrecking crew of Kim and Roberto Ramos aren’t punishing baseballs to the degree that they’re capable of. It’s one of the most dynamic combinations in the KBO and makes them such a dangerous offense. Kim’s ability to avoid strikeouts and make contact is elite, even by KBO standards, and getting on base for the seemingly unstoppable Ramos is the key to the Twins offense. As someone pulling for the Twins, I think it’s only a matter of time before they get back in full swing again, and if their prices drop at all in DFS contests, they should be scooped up instantly.

Kim Ha-seong (SS, Kiwoom Heroes): 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI, BB. I’s hard to believe that this is Kim’s seventh season in the KBO considering that he’s just 24 years old, but the slight-but-speedy shortstop has been a staple of the Heroes middle infield in his career. He got on base three times in this contest and should remain a solid table-setter for Kiwoom due to his plate discipline and his base-stealing prowess. While he’s only swiped two bags this season, his 33 steals in 2019 were second-most in the league.

—Scott Chu

Best Pitchers

Today wasn’t quite a banner day for KBO pitching both by MLB and KBO standards. The K leader was Yang Hyun-jong of the Kia Tigers and, of the ten starting pitchers, only two recorded a quality start. Considering the title of this section is “Best Pitchers”, I’m only going to include the two “best” performances.

So Hyeong-jun (KT Wiz): 7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 K: What the 18-year old RHP lacked in the K department he certainly made up for in weak contact. After a lead off single in the 1st, So Hyeong-jun didn’t allow a base hit again until the 6th inning! Aside from a shaky 3rd – in which he recorded all three of his walks –  So was able to use a heavy mix of sinkers to record 10 groundouts over the course of the game. While that number may seem a bit large, that seems almost par for the course for a KBO starter to record. The start was a much needed bounce back for the young pitcher as he’d given up 9 H in three consecutive games and 13 ER over his last 10.1 IP. I wouldn’t expect too much consistency from So moving forward though as he’s a sinker baller in a contact-happy, often defense-deprived league.

Yang Hyun-jong (KIA Tigers): 6 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K: As aforementioned, Yang Hyun-jong was the KBO’s K leader today with 4 strikeouts. Some were great:

While others were hung 79 mph sliders that batters should’ve hit 400 feet but were fooled by. Overall, Yang was able to use a mixture of four-seamers and change ups to take advantage of a Giants team that has sadly been struggling offensively. Yang’s performance seems to go as far as his change up will take him. If he can use the pitch to get to his slider, which has a .158 BA on the year, he’ll have a lot of success but if the change up finds holes in the defense, he can have an outing like his last where he gave up 6 ER, 11 H over 5 IP.


Thursday’s Key Matchup

Tae Hoon Kim (SK Wyverns) vs Drew Rucinski (NC Dinos): While Eric Jokisch (0.90 ERA) is going to pitch tomorrow, I feel like this matchup between the Wyverns and Dinos has more well-rounded pitching (even if it does feature the first place team in the league going up against the 9th place team).

⁠— Alex Fast 

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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