June 12th – 13th
KBO NOTES – DAY 21
OVERALL RECORD: +70.53U (114-79-6) – $100 bettor up $7,053
Record on 4U MAX Plays: 4-1 (+10.4U)
Record on 3U Plays: 20-6-1 (+34.75U)
Record on 2.5U Plays: 3-6 (-8.37U)
Record on 2U Plays: 45-22-4 (+34.5U)
Record on 1U Plays: 35-31-1 (-2.05U)
Record on .5U Plays (nearly all +200 or greater): 7-11 (+1.3U)
Before I get going with my picks for the day, I want to welcome everyone to the three-week mark! Since I started this writeup, I’ve already come a pretty long way. It started with me creating a Word document, printing it, and taking pictures and posting on Twitter, and after a great start and some good conversations, I was noticed by the founder of Bet Karma and hired to write for the company. They’ve been extremely supportive and I would highly recommend checking out their Discord – it has different groups for every sport, including a great collection of MLB/KBO fans, and in addition to normal chatter, I provide even more background for all my picks, along with some live suggestions from time to time. I would love to continue this successful run – adding 70.53U without making a single bet larger than 4U is pretty solid/consistent performance – and I hope you guys all continue to be a part of the team. You can reach me on twitter @jpbattingprac or at my email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Without further ado, let’s get after this slate (also, games at 3:00 AM CST tonight, not 4:30 AM)
G1: Hanwha Eagles (+220) VS Doosan Bears (-305) O/U 11.5
SP: Hui-kwan Yu (6.5/10)
2019 ERA: 3.25
2020 Stats: 3.60 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 35 IP, 43 H, 12 K, 12 BB
Looking through Yu’s stats, it should almost immediately be clear that this isn’t a guy that the analytics are going to support. His K/BB ratio is 1 (terrible), BB/9 is 3.09 (average), K% is 7.7 (worst in the KBO), and his FIP is 4.76 (below average). This is a guy who is getting slaughtered in Major League Baseball. But you know what league he’s pitching in? The KBO, oriented entirely different strategically. Yu’s lack of strikeouts may be exceptionally low, but it’s not a dealbreaker in a league that places more of an emphasis on command and limiting XBHs, so the fact that he allows so many hits is okay because of teams have a very hard time hitting the ball over the fence (2 HRs in 35 IP). If this year were far out of the ordinary ERA-wise, I would be concerned. But if you look back through Yu’s KBO career – other than a 2018 season where the league admittedly juiced the baseballs with the (successful) attempt to spike offense – this is a guy who consistently sits in the 3s and 4s, and likewise always has a higher FIP than ERA, meaning that he may just be a contact-based pitcher, and we don’t have enough batted-ball data to come to a more accurate holistic conclusion. However, we certainly do have data on one thing: the Hanwha Eagles and their offense, which is (probably) the worst in the history of the KBO. Over the last 17 games – all losses, good lord, it hurt typing that – the Eagles have scored over 4 runs exactly twice (5 and 6), averaging 2.53 runs/game. To say that is anemic would be an insult to things that are anemic. Furthermore, their projected starting lineup – which is now composed almost entirely of minor leaguers who were promoted, more on that later – features lefties in five of the first six slots of their order, meaning that every one of their potentially decent hitters is operating at a platoon disadvantage vs the left-handed Yu. In terms of his outings this year, Yu has had two poor starts vs KT, one good one against NC, two terrific ones against Kia, and a seven-inning, five-strikeout, one-run start vs SK, the team most reminiscent of Hanwha, though still far better. To wrap this up, I’ll discuss something that works really well in Doosan’s favor at this point in the week – Yu’s longevity. Having played four nights in a row, all these teams’ pens are run down, and having a guy on the mound who has lasted 6+ in four of his six starts – including two seven-inning starts of 100+ pitches each – is a great sign that he can limit the exposure Doosan’s lower-end arms need to have. I think that Yu has done a terrific job surviving against the highest-end bats the KBO has to offer, and will thrive tonight.
DOOSAN HITTING: 3rd in average and OPS, 2nd in runs
SP: Seung-ju Han (1/10)
2019 ERA: N/A, in HS
2020 Stats: 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 18 IP, 23 H, 4 BB, 10 K (IN KBO FUTURES LEAGUE)
Using a deep dive into the KBO’s Futures League database, I was able to find Han’s stats from this season, along with a little background on the pitcher. He was a second-round pick out of HS last year and makes $22K per year, signing for just an $8K bonus last year. While this may seem like semantics, the numbers are draft position are important, because it means that he was regarded as below the elite tier of HS pitchers in that class. Han has lived up to that billing this year, looking just okay in Korea’s minor leagues. His last two starts look good – 10 scoreless innings in a row – but they came against the 4th-worst and worst teams in the Futures League, and he still gave up a lot of contact and struggled with some control, so I’m very unconvinced. Furthermore, in his two appearances vs “legitimate” opponents – teams ranked 1st and 6th in the Futures League, and in quotations because I’m really, really skeptical that anyone in the Futures League can hit – Han was shelled to the tune of: 8 IP / 16 H / 2 BB / 1 K / 9 ER. One of those outings included an appearance vs Doosan’s minor league team, which teed off on the young Han. Riddle me this – if Doosan’s minor league team – ranked 7th in the Futures League in OPS – knocks Han out of the game after 3 IP, what do we think Doosan’s major league team – ranked a close 3rd in OPS in the KBO – is going to do to him in his debut? Furthermore, Han is in the horrible position of being an average right-handed arm against a left-handed bat dominant team, so he’ll be at a platoon disadvantage to six Bears, including the entire heart of their order. Han hasn’t made an appearance lasting longer than 5 innings the entire season, so even in the dream scenario where he remains relatively unscathed, the Bears will then be seeing a horrible bullpen depleted by four consecutive beatdowns, and I just can’t see a scenario where this game doesn’t end in a pretty brutal Hanwha loss, unless the Eagles score around 10 runs, which would be more than their combined output from the last five games. All of my readers have seen me look for reasons why the Eagles can win a game – those include having a pitching advantage, playing a subpar team, and being fully rested – and not only have the Eagles not won a game, but they have none of those advantages tonight. Buckle in, and let’s get the Doosan machine going.
HANWHA HITTING: 10th in average, runs, and OPS. I should just start copy-pasting this.
1: Doosan -2.0 (-160) 4U MAX
2: Doosan 1H -1.0 (-150) 4U MAX
3: Doosan TT OV 7 (-115) 3U
4: Doosan 1st Inning ML (+180) .5U
G2: SK Wyverns (-110) VS Kia Tigers (-125) O/U 10
SP: Seung-won Moon
2019 ERA: 3.88
2020 Stats: 4.68 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 32.2 IP, 39 H, 33 K, 6 BB
Moon is a case-in-point example of a pitcher I target in the KBO. His 4.68 ERA may encourage people to hammer Kia and the over, but even a brief look gives us a much better sense for what’s going on with his season, which in fact has been one of the best in the KBO. His K% (23.2) is terrific, and his 1.65 BB/9 is otherworldly. Additionally, he’s done a great job limiting hard contact: since a debut vs Lotte that included two HR’s, Moon has proceeded to give up just one blast over the next 27 IP. This helps us make sense of why his 3.49 FIP is a full point-plus better than his ERA, suggesting that if he keeps working with the same efficiency in strikeouts and limited hard contact, he’ll see heavy positive regression. Furthermore, Moon has had a ton of tough matchups, facing NC twice, Doosan once, and Kiwoom once. His starts vs Kiwoom and Doosan were bad, but in one case he was hurt by bad fielding and decreased command, and in the other Doosan found hole after hole in a long fifth inning that marred his statline. Against NC, Moon was terrific, allowing just 3 runs in 12 total innings of work against the Dinos, very impressively striking out 15 in the process. Kia is a pretty decent offense, but they’ve definitely struggled against good starting pitching. Last night, they had 2 through five innings before tacking on a few late. The Tigers just don’t have a deep lineup, and really aren’t much of a scoring threat outside the power bats in the 2-3-4 part of their order, so if Moon can battle his way through the top of the order twice, he’s in really good shape, particularly for the first five innings. He’s seen plenty of lefties this year between Kiwoom, NC, and Doosan, so he should be well-prepared to handle the Kia power lefty bats (Tucker and Choi). If he could find a way to extend and give the Wyverns seven, I would be ecstatic. As it is, we may have to settle for 6, since SK hasn’t extended him past 100 pitches this season, but that alone should put SK in a very competitive spot.
SK HITTING: 9th in average, runs, and OPS
SP: Ki-young Im
2019 ERA: 5.73
2020 Stats: 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 35 H, 28 K, 4 BB
Im has quietly been one of the most impressive starters in the KBO this season, battling through two matchups and one vs KT to put up a statline with an ERA in the low 3’s and a stunningly good 7:1 K:BB ratio. Other than an opening day debacle vs Samsung, Im has been really, really good, allowing a maximum of 3 ER in his subsequent five starts, including three with just 1 ER (Doosan, Lotte, Doosan). Im’s peripherals support his breakout year – a 20.9% K% is very solid, a 3.40 FIP is terrific, and a 1.11 BB/9 is simply inhuman. SK doesn’t hit for much power or average, so the way they score runs is by taking advantage of defective command or opportunities handed to them. Thus, Im is an outstanding candidate for facing them, since he’ll make the Wyverns earn absolutely everything. Another thing I really like about Im is that despite not being extended past 100 pitches this season, he’s thrown 5+ four times, including starts of 6 and 8, both against Lotte. The Giants are a pretty similar offensive team to SK – their stats were bolstered by a hot start and a recent beatdown of Hanwha, but they both lack pop and ability to string together long innings. If Im is able to continue to command the ball well and induce soft contact, he’s got a great shot to give the Tigers 6+, and given how late in the week it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up being Im’s first start past 100 pitches. The Kia bullpen is up and down, but I think their end-of-game guys should be available after throwing about an inning each yesterday, and they’re very solid threats to lock the game up. Still, I think the strongest play is in the first half, where Im should be able to slice through the SK lineup and record some great innings on the mound in his best matchup of the season.
KIA HITTING: 5th in average and OPS, 6th in runs
1: 1H UN 5.5 (-120) 3U
2: UN 10 (-120) 2U
3: SK TT UN 4.5 (-135) 2U