Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Japan Retains Number One Ranking in Baseball

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

The United States earned more points than any other country in 2017 but it was not enough to surpass Japan for the number one ranking. For the third year in a row Japan is the number one ranked country in baseball. They earned the second most points in baseball last year and now lead the United States by 244 points. The 2018 season will be difficult for the United States to surpass Japan since they are not participating in the Under 23 Baseball World Cup in Nicaragua in October, one of the two tournaments that hand out the most points for the 2018 season. In a couple weeks the rankings could shuffle as points from 2014 expire, but if the United States should surpass Japan because of subtracted points their reign will be short.

Below are the top 12 teams in baseball, plus number 13 waiting to crack into the top 12. The top 12 teams will qualify for the Premier 12, which is the third most prestigious baseball tournament after the Olympics and the World Baseball Classic.

1. Japan (5658 points)
2. United States (5414 points)
3. Korea (4950 points)
4. Taiwan (3808 points)
5. Cuba (3677 points)
6. Mexico (3012 points)
7. Australia (2634 points)
8. Netherlands (2377 points)
9. Venezuela (2363 points)
10. Canada (2142 points)
11. Puerto Rico (1827 points)
12. Italy (1686 points)

13. Nicaragua (1636 points)

Hyun Soo Kim Returns to Korea

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Sometimes you have to take one step back before you take two steps forward. It appears the wave of Korean players coming to the United States to play major league baseball is crashing back into the ocean as many players return to Korea. Hyun Soo Kim is the third Korean player to return. He signed with the LG Twins, who were willing to pay him $10.6 million for four years. Kim would have had to settle for a minor league contact if he had stayed in the United States.

Former KBO MVP Byung-Ho Park returned to the Nexxen Heroes, signing for $1.38 million after he could not find a major league stadium last year. He spent all of last season in the minor leagues struggling to make contact, after being sent their midway through the 2016 season. He still had two years left on his major league contract with the Twins but sacrificed that for the opportunity to return to Korea.

Jae-Gyun Hwang got a cup of coffee with the San Francisco Giants last year, struggled and then was returned to the minor leagues where he spent most of his time. After the season he was released by the Giants, allowing him to return to Korea where he signed a four year contract for $8.8 million with the KT Wiz.

It is still unclear what will happen to Jung-Ho Kang, who has been unable to get a work visa to return to the United States to play baseball after his third drunk driving conviction. Kang was the first of this wave, achieving some success with the Pirates his first two seasons. He recently went to the Dominican Republic to play baseball after being inactive for all of 2017, struggled and was released. The Pirates seem to accept the fact that he will not be returning to the United States and are setting up their roster for another year without him. Kang may want to negotiate out of the contract, since he is not being paid while suspended and see if he can sign with another KBO club. The KBO clubs may be reluctant to sign him after his drunk driving convictions and his absence from baseball.

No new Koreans were signed as free agents or posted by their Korean clubs. The biggest impact from the KBO are ex-major leaguers who return from Korea to play major league baseball, like the Brewers Eric Thames.

NPB East Wins Taiwan Winterball League

Monday, December 18th, 2017

The NPB East Japanese prospect team defeated their Korean KBO counterparts 4-1 in the Taiwan winter league championship game. The KBO team battled the host Taiwan team in the semifinals. The KBO team beat the CPBL 6-2 to advance to the championship game. The NPB East team upset the Division winner Japan Amateur Baseball Association (JABA) 2-0 to advance to the championship game. JABA went on to beat the CPBL team 4-3 to capture third place.

The final standings to determine seeding:

JABA (11-4-2), CPBL (11-5-1), KBO (8-7-2), NPB East (8-9), NPB West (8-9-1), WBSC Team (4-11-2)

Nicaragua to Host U-23 WBSC Championship; Panama Under 15

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Nicaragua will host the Under 23 WBSC championship in 2018, playing the games at the newly constructed 15,000 seat Dennis Martinez stadium at a date yet to be determined. Despite all the points awarded for this event the No 2 United States and No 5 Cuba will not be playing in the tournament. The United States did not play in the qualifying round, while Cuba did not qualify. Below are the teams who have qualified for the games:

Africa (1) - to be determined
Americas (4) - No. 9 Venezuela, No. 6 Mexico, No. 11 Puerto Rico, No. 16 Dominican Republic
Asia (3) - No1. Japan, No.4 Taiwan and No. 3 South Korea
Europe (2) - No. 8 Netherlands, No. 14 Czech Republic
Oceania (1) - to be determined
Wildcard (1) - No 13 Nicaragua

The Under 15 Hosts will be Panama. The teams competing in that tournament are:

Africa (1) - to be determined
Americas (5) - No. 2 United States, No. 16 Dominican Republic, No. 5 Cuba, No. 15 Panama, No. 18 Brazil
Asia (2) - No. 1 Japan and No. 4 Taiwan
Europe (2) - No. 20 Germany and No. 8 Netherlands
Oceania (1) - to be determined

Ho Ho Not a Merry Christmas for Kang and Park

Monday, November 27th, 2017

While they were teammates in Korea they were called the Ho brothers because of their same last name, even though they are not related. Jung-Ho Kang was the first to go the United States to play in the major leagues. He had a successful first couple years but things have not been going so well lately. Byung-Ho Park followed him to the major leagues a year later and found major league pitching and the game a little more challenging than the Korean version.

It has not been a Happy Holidays for these two Korean superstars. Jung-Ho Kang, who was hoping to get his swing back after missing all of last year because of visa issues, was released by the Aguilas Cibaenas. The Dominican team did not have a lot of time to wait for him to start hitting. After 31 games into the season Kang was hitting just .143 with a .219 OBA and a .202 slugging percentage. In the competitive Dominican Winter league the Aguilas is .5 games behind the leading Cibao Gigantes. They needed a bat in their lineup to generate offense, not an automatic out who has trouble making contact (31 whiffs in 91 at bats). Even after his last 10 games his slugging average stood at .194. He was hitting just .125 against right handed pitching.

Kang sat out last season after his third drunk driving conviction in Korea. He was unable to get a work visa to come to the United States based on his last conviction, a hit and run which resulted in a felony conviction. He was also suspected in a sexual assault case in a hotel room in Chicago that has remained unresolved, possibly because of his time out of the country.

For Byung-Ho Park the news is not quite as bad. He signed a contract with the Nexen Heroes for about $1.4 million. The bad news is that he may have to forfeit his contract with the Twins for $6.5 million, $12 million for the next two years. In order to finalize his one year contract with the Heroes details of his remaining contract with the Twins must still be ironed out.

For the Twins he was playing in the minor leagues. His first year in the major leagues he hit just .191 with 80 whiffs in 62 games. The power appeared with his 12 homeruns but there was just too much swing and miss in his swing. Last year he did not see the major leagues, hitting just .253 with only 14 homeruns and a .415 slugging percentage in AAA. That is not what the Twins were looking for when they paid him his big contract four year multi million dollar contract.

If Jung-Ho Park can not get his work visa to come to the United States finalized the Nexen Heroes could sign him to a one year contact and the two Ho brothers could be reunited, though not in a fashion they were hoping when they went to the major leagues a couple years ago.

Japan Blanks Korea to Win Asian Championship

Monday, November 20th, 2017

In the first ever Asian championship from the three professional Asian Leagues featuring players 23 and under Japan continued their domination, blanking Korea 7-0 in the final and finishing undefeated in the three games. Kazuto Taguchi pitched seven innings of shutout ball, allowing just three hits to lead Japan to the victory. Tsuyoshi Ishizaki and Yasuaki Yamasaki each worked a perfect inning of shutout ball to complete the shutout. The attendance figure was listed at 30,498, a little less than the crowd that would attend Yomiuri Giants games, but a good crowd for this series.

The first two runs of the ball game were driven in by series MVP Shuta Tonosaki. He contributed RBI singles in the fourth and fifth innings to give Japan an early 2-0 lead. Ryoma Nishikawa drove in two more runs in the fifth inning with a double.

Nishikawa also slammed a solo homerun in the seventh to finish the game with three RBIs. Hotaka Yamakawa drove in two runs with a single in the sixth inning.

Korea strung together back to back two out singles in the fifth inning to place two runners on base for the first and only time in the game. Min-Woo Park grounded out to end the threat. The Japanese pitchers retired the next 12 hitters to sweep through the series.

The MVP of the tourney was Shuta Tonosaki, who finished the series driving in four runs. The All Asian Series team was:

Catcher - Ju-Suk Ha (Korea), First Base - Yu-Hsien Chu (Taiwan), Second Base - Min-Woo Park (Korea), Third Base - Ryoma Nishikawa (Japan), Shortstop - Ha-Seong Kim (Korea), Outfield - Shuta Tonosaki (Japan), Go Matsumoto (Japan) and Po-Jung Wang (Taiwan), designated hitter - Kensuke Kondo (Japan), Pitcher - Kazuto Taguchi (Japan)

Asia Series Results

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

In the past the Asia Series would pit the champions of the NPB, CPBL and KBO against each other, adding an All Star team from China and then later on the champion of the ABL. The attendance for these games was lacking resulting in the abandonment of the sponsor and the ending of the series. This year Japan, Korea and Taiwan have renewed the Asian Series, but this time they are pitting All Star teams of 23 and under prospects against each other. Each team is allowed to play three players who fall above that age requirement. Japan usually dominates these events, but the games are always competitive.

Japan 8 Korea 7

Japan rallied for four runs in the bottom of the tenth inning to win the game 8-7. Seiji Uebayashi slugged a three run homer to tie the game and Tatsuhiro Tamura got the walk off double to give Japan the victory. In the top of the tenth Korea had scored three runs to break a 4-4 tie.

Korea scored four runs in the fourth inning. Ha-Seong Kim started the inning off with a solo homerun. Jung-Hoo Lee ended the scoring with a two run double. Japan rallied back with Hotaka Yamakawa slugging a two run homer in the sixth. In the ninth the Korean pitchers got a little wild, walking two and giving up a hit to load the bases. Yota Kyoda walked to force in the tying run to send the game into extra innings.

Korea got the fireworks started in the tenth with an RBI double from Ji-Hyuk Ryu and a two run double from Ju-Suk Ha, who had driven in a run earlier with a sacrifice fly in the four run fourth. After the Korean bullpen could not protect a one run lead in the ninth, they failed to protect a three run lead in the 10th. With two runners put on base for the extra inning rule Uebayashi slugged a one out 3-run homer to quickly tie the game. Ryoma Nishikawa singled and stole second. Tatsuhiro Tamura ended the game with a double.

Korea 1 Taiwan 0

It was a pitcher’s duel. Kuan-Yu Chen gave up only one run in his 5.2 innings of work. Gi-Yeong Im only allowed two hits in his seven innings of shutout ball. He struck out seven and walked three.

A two out walk and a triple from Jung-Hoo Lee in the sixth inning scored the only run of the game. Pill-Joon Jang got the last four outs, striking out three to seal off the victory for Korea.

If Japan beats Taiwan tomorrow Korea and Japan will play in the championship. If Taiwan wins the series will knot into a three way tie for first at 1-1. A tie breaker will identify the two teams to square off in the championship match.

Kia Tigers KBO Champs

Monday, October 30th, 2017

The reign of the Doosan Bears is over just as the four year reign of the Samsung Lions ended with the Bears first championship two years ago. The Kia Tigers ended the Doosan Bears two year run with their first championship since 2009, a 7-6 thriller that appeared to be a blow out from the beginning.

The Tigers appeared to have put the game away with a Bum-ho Lee grand slam in the third triggering a five run inning for a 5-0 lead. The Tigers added two more in the sixth to up their lead to 7-0. Doosan Bears ace Dustin Nippert was charged with all seven runs in his 5.1 innings of work.

Hector Noesi was cruising for the Tigers until he hit a giant wall in the seventh. The Bears maimed him for four straight hits, three singles and a double to score two runs. A hit by pitch to load the bases ended the night for Noesi. The bullpen gave up two more singles to score three runs and a ground out scored the sixth run of the inning to trim the Tiger lead to 7-6. It had now become a ballgame.

Yoon-Dong Kim retired the Bears in order in the eighth. Hyun-Jong Yang gave the manager some tense moments. A walk to the leadoff batter, an error and a second walk loaded the bases with just one out. Se-Hyuk Park popped to short and Jae-Ho Kim popped to the catcher in foul territory to end the game. Yang had secured the championship for the Tigers.

Tigers Take 3-1 Series Lead Over Bears

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Sloppy play by the Bears defense and strong pitching from the Bears led to a 5-1 win. Ki-Yong Im worked 5.2 innings, scattering six hits without allowing a run. Se-Hyun Kim retired the last four hitters to capture the save.

The Tigers scored two runs early in the first. A one out Joo-Chan Kim double was followed by a Roger Bernadina triple to score the first run. A Hyung-Woo Choi single drove in Bernadina and gave the Tigers all the runs they would need to earn the victory.

A two out error with runners on first and second in the seventh allowed one run to score. Roger Bernadina drove in another with a single. That gave the Tigers a commanding 4-0 lead. They scored a final run in the ninth, aided by a catcher’s interference. It was the third Bear error of the game.

The Tigers now lead the series three games to one with only one more game at the Doosan Bears park. A win will end the series. A loss will send the game to the Tigers park for the final two games.

Tigers Down Bears to Lead Series

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

It was a duel of two American pitchers. Pat Dean pitched better than Michael Bowden, working seven innings and giving up just three runs. Bowden could only go four innings and allowed four runs. Se-Hyun Kim retired the last four hitters, two of them on strikeouts to earn the save in the Tigers 6-3 win over the Bears.

Ji-Wan Na hit a critical pinch hit two run homer in the ninth inning to extend a 4-3 lead to 6-3. Chi-Hong An also drove in two runs for the Tigers.

Nick Evans hit a solo shot off Pat Dean in the seventh inning. The Tigers now lead the series two games to one.