Archive for the 'Korea' Category

Changes to the KBO for the 2023 season.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

The KBO has made a number of changes that will have an impact on their 2023 season and in some cases prior to 2023. Below are a list of those changes.

1) A salary cap. It will be set at 120 percent of the average salary of the top 40 highest paid players, excluding rookies and foreign players. Salaries will be used from the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Teams exceeding the cap will be fined and have their first round draft pick drop by nine positions from the following year.

2) Service time reductions. They will be lessoned by one year, eight years for those drafted out of high school and seven years for those drafted out of college.

3) Minimum wage increase. The minimum wage will be increased from 27 million won to 30 million won (around $25,000)

4) All three foreign players can play in same game. Starting the 2020 season all foreign players can play in the same game. The KBO allows a maximum of three foreign players per roster (usually two pitchers and one hitter). Previously, if a position player was in the lineup and a foreign player was pitching the second pitcher or position player could not play in the game. There will also be a $4 million cap to compensate all three foreign players. Beginning in the 2023 seasons teams can add an additional two foreign players (one pitcher and one position player) to their minor league teams. The annual salary for these minor league players may no exceed $300,000.

5) Injured list to be introduced. The KBO will adopt three injured lists of 10, 15 and 30 days.

6) Positioning cards can be used. Wrist bands or index cards can be used to determine where a player is to play for a specific batter. In the past only outfielders were allowed to use positioning cards.

7) Breaking first place ties. If two teams are tied for first place they will play a one game playoff to determine winner. If three or more teams are tied then head to head record will be used.

8) Seven game series formats. Instead of the 2-3-2 format the KBO will use the 2-2-3 format, with the last three games

Japan is Number one in Both Men’s and Women’s Baseball

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

Japan has achieved the top rating in both men’s and women’s baseball. The United States is second in men and fifth in women. For men the United States team bypasses a number of tournaments such as the World Cup Under 23, and play amateurs in the Premier 12, which prevents them from accumulating the points that Japan earns. The United States women are hampered by the culture of forcing talented players to pursue softball, where it is a high school recognized sport, abandoning baseball. This eliminates talented female baseball players from continuing with the sport.

Below is the Top 12 Ranking for each gender.

Men’s Top 12

1. Japan (6,127 points)
2. United States (4,676)
3. Korea (4,622)
4. Taiwan (4,352)
5. Mexico (3,375)
6. Australia (3,249)
7. Netherlands (2,690)
8. Cuba (2,641)
9. Venezuela (2,624)
10. Dominican Republic (2,512)
11. Puerto Rico (2,013)
12. Canada (1,873)

The top 12 is significant since a team qualifies for the Premier 12 by being ranked in the top 12 for baseball.

The women’s top 12.

1. Japan (2,505 points)
2. Canada (1,947)
3. Taiwan (1,852)
4. Venezuela (1,736)
5. United States (1,524)
6. Australia (1,182)
7. Korea (955)
8. Cuba (947)
9. Dominican Republic (717)
10. Hong Kong (520)
11. Netherlands (500)
12. Puerto Rico (371)

In women’s softball the United States is ranked number one with Japan at number two. For the men in softball Japan is ranked number one. The United States is sixth, behind Argentina, New Zealand, Canada and Australia.

Under 23 World Cup Qualifying Round

Thursday, January 16th, 2020

The Under 23 Baseball World Cup qualifying round will be held in Nicaragua and Honduras. Competing in the Nicaragua competition will be Brazil, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and the hosts Nicaragua. In Honduras, other than the hosts the competition will be Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala and Panama. Absent from the competition are the United States and Canada. Even Puerto Rico is absent in the tournament.

The Under 23 World Cup will be held October 2-11 in Mexico. Mexico are the defending champions having defeated Japan in 2018 when it was played in Colombia. Other countries who have qualified to play are Germany and Czech Republic (European qualifier), New Zealand (Oceania - Australia dropped out), Taiwan, Japan and China (Asia Qualifier), Korea (wild card selection) and Mexico as the host.

Honduras is an interesting country to choose to be a host for a baseball qualifier since baseball is not a big sport in that country. If you want to grow the game you have to expose the countries not usually exposed to baseball. Not sure why the United States and Canada chose not to participate but the major and minor league pipeline availability probably has something to do with that.

Kim Returns to Doosan, Yanagita Signs Seven Year Pact with Hawks

Monday, January 6th, 2020

It was not a surprise to see major league teams not jump at the chance to sign a potential 30 homerun outfielder from Korea. Especially since those 30 homerun days had occurred in the past. Asking your team to post you is not a good idea after you have had a bad year.

Jae-Hwan Kim had won the MVP in 2018 with his 44 homeruns and 133 RBIs while hitting .334. The previous two years he had hit over .300 with homerun numbers of 35 and 37 and RBI stats of over 100. It was after the 2018 season he should have asked the Bears to post him.

In 2019 Korea went to a new ball and the numbers Kim had put up dropped off the cliff. He hit .283, slugged only 15 homeruns and drove in just 91, respectful numbers for the KBO but not Kim worthy. He requested to be posted after that season, his age 31 season. Major league scouts had not taken a close look at Kim since there were no indications he was going to request to be posted. Were injuries a reason for his numbers to drop? The change to the new ball? A drop in ability?

So Kim returns to the Bears. If he puts up good numbers will he again try to pursue a major league opportunity? Or will he be satisfied with his KBO career?

Another player the major leagues will not have an opportunity to sign is Yanagita. Yuki Yanagita, a star in Japan would obviously be a starter on any major league team if he had forced the Hawks to post him. The Softbank Hawks have yet to allow their players to be posted to the major leagues. Instead, Yuki recently signed a seven year contract with the Hawks, which means his career will remain in Japan. Major league teams will have to be content with watching Yuki in international events such as the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics. At 31 years of age now, Yanagita will be 38 when that contract expires.

Last year Yanagita missed most of the season because of a knee injury. The injury caused him to miss most of the season, putting him short by 13 days of service time to allow him to become a free agent. If he could have played in 2019 Yanagita could have declared for free agency after the 2019 season. Because of the injury he would have had to wait until after the 2020 season, when Yanagita would have been 32 years old to declare free agency. Major league teams do not sign 32 year old outfielders to rich contracts.

When Yanagita’s career ends, and if he can avoid injury, he could put up numbers that will make him one of the ten best players in Japanese history, up there with Sadahara Oh and Ichiro Suzuki.

Status of KBO and NPB International Signings

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

It was a big week for major league baseball as well as baseball in Japan and Korea. The Rays signed Yoshitomo Tsutsugo from Japan while the Cardinals inked lefthanded Korean pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim. Both should make an impact for their teams.

Myworld has always liked Yoshitomo Tsutsugo. His defense is not that strong so it is unclear where he will play for Tampa Bay. Depth wise the Rays have better defensive outfielders in Hunter Renfroe, Austin Meadows and Kevin Kiermaier. The Rays also have a crowded first base field with Ji-Man Choi and Nate Lowe. That leaves the DH position as his most viable spot, with occasional starts in the outfield.

The bat is what attracts the Rays to Yoshitomo. In 2016 he had his best year for the Yokohama Bay Stars hitting 44 homeruns with a .322 average and 110 RBIs. His 2019 season was a disappointment with 141 whiffs, his only season in which he struck out more times than games played. He also drove in just 79 runs. Yokohama is a hitter’s park so the dimensions are small and homeruns are prevalent. Teammates Neftali Soto, who could not get major league playing time, slugged 43 homeruns and Jose Lopez hit 31.

The 28 year old only signed for two years and $12 million. Another $2.4 million will be paid to the Bay Stars as compensation for his posting. After the two years he could become another free agent at 30 years of age making him eligible for another rich contract if he shows success. He just needs to reduce those strikeouts that were so prevalent last year.

From another country Korean Kwang-Hyun Kim signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in his second posting opportunity. He was posted back in 2014 when the Padres won a bidding process for him. Kim seemed to be on the down side of his career at that point, suffering from injuries that saw his ERA climb by two runs the last two years. He and the Padres could not agree on a contract and he returned to Korea. He eventually had Tommy John surgery in 2017 and this seemed to be the answer to all his ailments. The last two years he has been the ace of the SK Wyverns pitching staff with ERAs under 3 the last two seasons. Last year the offense in Korea was down so the 2.51 ERA is not as impressive. He did go 17-6 in 30 starts.

Kim throws a fastball in the low 90s but it can hit the mid-90s. He also has an above average slider. The contract is for two years at $8 million. There are also incentives that can add an additional $1.5 million to the contract. How much the Cardinals will owe the SK Wyverns in the posting fee will depend on whether he meets any of those incentives.

There are three more professional international players out there looking for a contract after having been posted or as a free agent. Myworld thinks the Rays and Cardinals have signed the two top players.

Japanese pitcher Shun Yamaguchi had a good year for the Yomiuri Giants. He was 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA. There are reports that the Blue Jays have signed him to a contract. He will probably fit in the back end of the rotation, though in his early years he was the closer for the Yokohama Bay Stars. Last year was his career year so the Blue Jays may be signing buying him when his stock is at its peak, or perhaps he figured things out.

Shogo Akiyama was the free agent outfielder that may be the fourth outfielder type. He can play centerfield but there may be a question with his bat. Last year he hit .303 with 20 homeruns for the Seibu Lions. His last three years he has hit over 20 homeruns with a batting average over .300. Myworld would be surprised if his bat translates to the major leagues. He could be a solid player for a second division team, but a fourth outfielder for a playoff team. He is a free agent so there is no posting fee required to sign him.

The same can be said for Hiroshima Carp second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, though his defense is supposedly at the gold glove level. The problem for Kikuchi is his weak bat, where his average will sit around .250 and his OBA may fall below .300. He has hit double digits in homeruns the last four years but myworld would be surprised if he can reach those levels in the major leagues.

The Doosan Bears outfielder Jae-Hwan Kim has been posted but there has not been a lot of news on him. After hitting 35 or more homeruns between 2016-2018 and winning the MVP award in 2018, he had a down year last year. Offensive numbers were down in the KBO but Kim’s numbers were really down, at 15 homeruns and a .283 average. At 31 years of age it will be interesting to see if he gets any major league teams interested in him.

Not Korean, but playing in the KBO, Josh Lindblom signed a big contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. He was the teammate of Kim and may put in a good word for him, though the Brewers are a little stacked in the outfield. Lindblom won the KBO MVP award last year with his 20-3, 2.50 ERA. This is his third attempt at making a major league team. After having some success in the KBO in 2015-2016 he tried to return to the major leagues. He found himself back in the KBO late in 2017 after failing to stick on a major league roster. He signed a three year contract for a little over $9 million.

KBO Gold Glove Winners

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

The KBO handed out their gold gloves to the best player at each position. The players here are not considered the best defensive players at the positions but the best overall player. This year a record four foreign players were named to the gold glove teams.

Pitcher - Josh Lindblom (Doosan Bears) - His second straight gold glove. For 2020 he will be looking at his third try for major league success. He relies a lot on spin for his pitches so the Astros would be a favorite to sign him. 20-5, 2.50 ERA with 189 whiffs.

Catcher - Yang Eui-Ji (NC Dinos) - Finished second to Lindblom in the MVP voting. This is his second straight and fifth overall gold glove. His .354 batting average won the KBO batting title.

First Base - Park Byung-Ho (Kiwoom Heroes) - His major league career did not go so well, but a return to the KBO has rejuvenated his star status. Led the KBO in homeruns with 33. Like Yang his second straight gold glove and fifth overall.

Second Base - Park Min-Woo (NC Dinos) - First time winner hit .344, third in batting average.

Shortstop - Kim Ha-Seong (Kiwoom Heroes) - His second straight award. He led the KBO with 112 runs scored and was second in RBIs with 104 and steals with 33. Only hit 19 homeruns to fall short of back to back 20/20 years. He has asked to be posted for the 2021 season. He has adequately replaced Kang Jung-Ho at shortstop who had some success with the Pirates before running into character issues.

Third Base - Choi Jeong (SK Wyverns) - Traditionally, one of the top sluggers in the KBO. This year he was second to Park with 29. In 2018 injuries prevented him from having three consecutive seasons of 40 or more homeruns. This was his sixth gold glove.

Outfield - Lee Jung-Hoo (Nexon Heroes) - At 21 he has superstar written all over him. His .336 batting average was fourth in the league. This is his second straight time winning the award. Not a big power hitter or stolen base threat but at 21 he could develop.

Outfield - Jerry Sands (Nexon Heroes) - His 28 homeruns were fourth in the league and his 113 RBIs were topped by no player. In his first full season in the KBO he won a gold glove.

Outfield - Mel Rojas (KT Wiz) - His 104 RBIs were tied for second. Despite his 43 homeruns in 2018 in his first full season in the KBO he did not win the gold glove. The 2019 season saw him win his first.

Designated Hitter - Jose Miguel Fernandez (Doosan Bears) - His .344 average was second in the KBO. That was enough to give him his first gold glove.

Another Korean Player to be Posted

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

The Doosan Bears have announced they will post 31 year old outfielder Kim Jae-hwan. It might not be the best year to post him. After having years with 37, 35 and 44 homeruns in 2016-2018 Kim slumped to hit just 15 homeruns last year, granted in a year when offense was down. His average also went from .330 to .283.

His first five years in addition to two years in the military Kim saw little action. It was in 2016 that Kim had his break out year, hitting .325 with 37 homeruns and 124 RBIs. After the 2011 baseball World Cup he failed a drug test for testosterone doping, with a penalty of being banned for ten games.

Kim is the sixth Asian to be posted or become a free agent, four from Japan and now two from Korea. The KBO has recently reduced the number of years a player needs to play before he becomes a free agent from nine years to eight.

Lindblom KBO MVP

Tuesday, November 26th, 2019

Josh Lindblom was voted the KBO MVP. He finished 20-5 with a 2.50 ERA and 189 whiffs. He finished second in ERA otherwise he would have won the pitching triple crown. Last year Lindblom finished second in the MVP voting to his teammate Kim Jae-hwan.

He is the fifth foreign player to win the MVP award. The other foreign players to win the award are Tyrone Woods (1998), Daniel Ross (2007), Eric Thames (2015) and Dustin Nippert (2016). Interesting that like Lindblom all the players except Thames won the MVP as Doosan Bears. Thames won the award playing for the NC Dinos.

Lindblom also won the Choi Dong-won award, similar to the Cy Young, for being the top pitcher in the KBO. It is the second straight year Lindblom has won the Choi Dong-won award. The award has only been issued since 2014 and two other pitchers have won the MVP and Choi Dong-won award during the same season, Dustin Nippert (Bears/2016) and Yang Hyeon-jong (Tigers/2017)

The rookie of the year award went out to reliever Jung Woo-young (Twins), who finished 4-6 with a 3.72 ERA and one save, 16 holds. It was not a strong rookie crop in the KBO.

Korea Again Posts Kim

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

For the second time Kwang-hyun Kim is being posted to the major leagues by the SK Wyverns. He was posted in 2014 but Kim and the San Diego Padres could not come to an agreement. At that time Kim had been battling injuries that tainted what teams may have thought about him. He did have Tommy John surgery in 2017 and now has had a couple successful KBO years behind him to build up his resume. He is a bit older, but he is a lefthander and the numbers he is putting up are similar to what he showed during his early years in the KBO, though his hits to innings pitched are much worse.

The 30 year old does throw the fastball in the low 90s so he is not a soft tosser for a left hander. He has a couple of decent breaking pitches, including a fork ball. After he was posted in 2014 his ERAs were at the high end of the 4’s. The last two years he has been below 3, though the balls were a bit different last year and the offensive numbers were down overall in the KBO in 2019. Last year he was 17-6 with a 2.51 ERA but gave up more hits than innings pitched (198/190). Even during the homer happy times of the KBO he has kept the ball in the park.

Myworld thinks he has the stuff to fit in the back end of a rotation. Being lefthanded certainly helps him. His strikeout to walk ratio since his Tommy John surgery has gone from 2 to 1 to 4.5 to 1. His WHIP is comparable to his 2008-2010 seasons when he was considered one of the rising pitchers in the KBO. He won’t by a Hyun-jin Ryu but he should be a decent arm in the rotation or as a lefty reliever out of the pen.

Unlike the last time he was posted Kim can negotiate with all 30 major league teams. Under the last posting system the Padres won the bid and Kim could not agree to a contract with the Padres. The Padres are again interested, but they have to compete with the other 29 teams in negotiating a contract. They Wyverns get a release fee on a percentage of the value of the contract.

Premier 12 All Tournament Team

Monday, November 18th, 2019

The United States may have finished in fourth place but they had the most players on the All Tournament team. Japan had the MVP in outfielder Seiya Suzuki and possible future major leaguer second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi. Below is the All World team.

Starting Pitcher - Chang Yi (Taiwan)
Relief Pitcher - Brandon Dickson (United States)
Catcher - Erik Kratz (United States)
First Base - Bobby Dalbec (United States)
Second Base - Ryosuke Kikuchi (Japan)
Third Base - Wang Wei-chen (Taiwan)
Shortstop - Kim Ha-seong (Korea)
Outfield - Seiya Suzuki (Japan), Jonathan Jones (Mexico), Lee Jung-ho (Korea)
Designated Hitter - Brent Rooker (United States)