May 14, 2020 - Sports

Recapping the first week of South Korean Baseball

Kendall Baker, author of Sports

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

The KBO season kicked off last Tuesday, so let's catch up with what's happened so far in the Korean league that is suddenly no longer starved for attention.

The state of play: As of last night, every team had played either seven or eight games, with the NC Dinos and Lotte Giants leading the way (6-1), and the SK Wyverns and KT Wiz bringing up the rear (1-6).

  • Top hitters: Doosan Bears teammates José Miguel Fernández (.517 BA, .562 OBP) and Kim Jae-hwan (4 HR, 14 RBI) are leading the league in four key offensive categories.
  • Top pitchers: A trio of former major leaguers lead the way on the mound — Kiwoom Heroes LHP Eric Jokisch (0.82 ERA and WHIP), Hanwha Eagles RHP Warwick Saupold (1.20 ERA, 0.60 WHIP) and Lotte Giants RHP Dan Straily (1.42 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 10.66 K/9).

The big picture: Korean baseball is not the major leagues — and that's perfectly fine. In fact, it's sort of charming, and there's even a term of endearment to encapsulate that feeling: "KBO-ness."

"KBO-ness is that special feeling where you are seven runs up in the bottom of the 8th and have shut out the opposition only to give up eight runs in one inning. ... KBO-ness is a no-hitter one game, and being released from your contract a month later."

The bottom line: MLB is still trying to figure out a way to save its 2020 season, but we're still months and countless painful arguments away from that happening. So we might as well embrace the KBO-ness while we're stuck here.

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