KBO Predictions and Expert Korean Baseball Analysis
Do you remember the part in the movie Major League where a construction worker, upon seeing the Cleveland Indians roster in the newspaper, turns to his fellow worker and says, “Who are these f@#king guys?”
That pretty much sums it up when it comes to the Korean Baseball Organization.
I’ve spent the last two weeks researching the KBO. The league’s opening day is Tuesday, May 5, and marks the return of professional baseball for bettors and fans. The games, played in South Korea, will be broadcast live on ESPN (although they generally start between 1 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. EST).
There are 10 teams in the league, and they play a 144-game season, with each team facing off 16 times. Rather than being named after the cities or areas in which they play, the teams are named for the corporations that sponsor them. It would be as if Major League Baseball had the Delta Braves and Budweiser Cardinals rather than Atlanta and St. Louis, respectively.
I’m very much a macro-handicapper. With few exceptions, I don’t get too bogged down with individual matchups in any sport. Instead, I like to approach the group as a whole. So I’m not going to pretend that I can wax poetic about 2019 KBO batting champion Eui Ji Yang’s approach at the plate.
However, I do feel like I have a good grasp on who these teams are entering the season and which way most of them are trending. Here is a quick breakdown, and some predictions, to get you primed for the season, with the teams listed in the order in which they finished last season:
Doosan Bears – The back-to-back defending champions have won three titles since 2016, and they are clearly the best team in the league. Doosan did lose league MVP Josh Lindblom to the Milwaukee Brewers, though. But their foreign-born hitter, Jose Fernandez, is one of the best in the game.
SK Wyverns – Utilizing the best pitching staff in the league, SK Wyverns suffered a massive collapse late last season. They had a seven-game lead for the regular season title – which rewards the winner with a bye to the Korean Series – heading into the final month. Then the wheels came off, and they ended up losing a tiebreaker to Doosan for the top spot. They also lost their top two starters (Kwang Hyun Kim and Angel Sanchez) and are a shaky bunch heading into the year.
Kiwoom Heroes – The youngest team in the KBO last year led the league in runs scored (5.4 per game). They also had the No. 3 pitching staff and could be primed for a step forward this year even without league RBI leader Jerry Sands. The Heroes play a more “American style” game, with less control coming from the coaching staff.
LG Twins – This team is excited about the one-two punch of Americans Casey Kelly and Tyler Wilson leading pitching staff. However, both are currently under league-mandated quarantine since they traveled from the U.S. They will be available next week and are supposed to anchor a team that was not far off the pace last year with 79 wins.
NC Dinos – The Dinos have one of the best lineups in the league, leading the KBO in home runs and finishing second in batting average last season. The league saw a major dip in scoring last year after introducing new baseballs. However, the Dinos are still a dangerous all-or-nothing type offense.
KT Wiz – This is the newest team in the league, founded in just 2013. They haven’t been very good since joining the KBO, but they showed some signs of life last year, finishing in sixth place in 2019 after finishing ninth or worse the three previous seasons.
Kia Tigers – Historically, these guys are a bit like the New York Yankees of the KBO. They’ve won 11 championships in 37 years, most recently in 2017. But they finished in seventh place last year and are under the gun this season. The big storyline for this team is that former San Francisco Giant great (and Washington Nationals manager) Matt Williams is taking over as the third American manager in KBO history.
Samsung Lions – The Lions were a dynasty, winning four championships from 2011-2014. They nearly made it five straight titles when they lost in the Korea Series in 2015. However, this team has been in the toilet since then, finishing ninth, ninth, sixth and eighth.
Hanwha Eagles – These guys stink. They have finished in the bottom three in the league eight times in 11 years, including a ninth place finish in 2019. A miracle run to the playoffs in 2018 has been their only success in over a decade.
Lotte Giants – The Giants are the most popular team in the league. However, they are coming off a train wreck of a season, finishing in last place despite having the league’s highest payroll. These guys have a ton of pressure on them this season and they brought in former MLB starters Dan Straily and Adrian Simpson to give them a boost this year. (Simpson is still in Seattle right now and will join the team when it is safe to travel.)
Robert Ferringo is a professional sports bettor and handicapper for Doc’s Sports and is considered one of the top MLB betting experts in the country. He has posted three consecutive winning MLB seasons and closed the 2019 season on a +$10,000 baseball run for his followers. Robert has beaten the books for six of seven profitable seasons on the diamond and is looking forward to another winning season for his clients. Robert is currently selling picks for KBO Baseball (available under OTHER SPORTS) and you can try out Ferringo’s baseball picks for free when you set up your complimentary $60 account here.
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