Archive for September, 2020

Dinos Take Charge in KBO

Wednesday, September 30th, 2020

The Dinos lost their ace Koo Chang-mo back in late July. They lost their slugger Na Sung-bum for about ten days in mid-September. They also began losing their lead to the LG Twins and the Kiwoom Heroes, falling to just half a game at one point.

That no longer is the case as the Dinos have stormed to a 10 game winning streak and increased their lead to seven games. The Heroes and Twins have been relegated to .500 ball and have now dropped to third and fourth in the standings. It is the KT Wiz that have taken over the second place spot. The Wiz arrived as an expansion team the same year as the NC Dinos, but unlike the Dinos they have yet to make the playoffs.

Addison Russell has found the KBO a little more difficult, his batting average dropping to .258. The Heroes fortunes have also been dropping with his batting average. Russell only has one hit in his last 18 at bats. He has only hit one homerun and his slugging average is creeping closer to below .300. When he first arrived to the KBO scene Russell was an RBI machine, driving in at least one run in his first four games, but that production has also disappeared.

The defending champion Doosan Bears have lost their hold on the final spot in the playoffs after being one hit by Warwick Saupold and the last place Hanwha Eagles 10-0. The Kia Tigers have taken over the fifth place spot after their 3-2 win over the sliding Kiwoom Heroes. The Lotte Giants still have faint playoff hopes, but find themselves five games back of the Tigers.

With only about 25 games to the season it would take a Dino collapse to lose their first place spot.

Po-Jung Wang Goes Deep for First Time in 2020

Tuesday, September 29th, 2020

Po-Jung Wang had two incredible season in the CPBL, where he hit where he hit over .400 and slugged 60 homeruns in those two seasons with the LaMiga Monkeys. In 2016 he became the first CPBL player to record 200 hits in one season. His fourth season with the Monkeys he slumped to a .351 average with only 17 homeruns, but by that time it was rumored that he was either going to Japan or the major leagues. After the 2018 season he became the first player from Taiwan to be posted to a foreign league.

The Nippon Ham Fighters won the bidding war, signing him to a three year four million dollar contract. After all the hype his first year in the NPB was a big disappointment, though injuries could have led to his downfall. He missed time in May and July to injuries and after a decent start he finished with just a .255 average and three homeruns in 88 games. The biggest slugger from Taiwan could only slug at a .327 clip in Japan and he was not a star on the defensive front in the outfield.

The 2020 season has not increased the hype. Japan has a limit of four foreign players on the roster maximum. They began the season with Christian Villanueva as their big foreign bat, but he has failed to produce (.239/.326/.333). On the pitching side they have Drew Verhagen and Nick Martinez, but neither of them are producing super star numbers. That should have left plenty of opportunity for Wang to show that he belongs.

He hasn’t, hitting just .194/.239/257 in his first 40 games. In the farm leagues he was dominate in eight games, hitting .684/.741/.947 with 13 hits in 19 at bats. Of those 13 hits just three went for extra bases, but those are still some pretty impressive stats. It showed what he is capable of, if given a chance. Yesterday he hit his first 2020 homerun.

The Fighters are still not out of the 2020 pennant race. But only two teams and just one wild card, instead of two wild cards, will advance to the playoffs in the Pacific League. With about 33 games left in the season the Fighters find themselves 7.5 games out of the playoff race. After this season Wang only has one more year on his contract. The Fighters might as well play him to see what he could possibly give them in his last year of his contract, the 2021 season.

Ryosuke Kikuchi Doing Well in Japan

Monday, September 28th, 2020

Ryosuke Kikuchi made an attempt to play major league baseball for the 2020 season. No teams showed enough interest in the gold glove fielding second baseman to offer him a large enough contract to sign. He eventually returned to play for the Hiroshima Carp, signing for four years for $2.7 million per year.

Many major league teams struggled to find a starting second baseman this year. The Red Sox were one, going with Jose Peraza at the beginning of the season and then trying to find other alternatives. The Oakland Athletics thought Franklin Barreto would be the answer but he failed and was later traded. There were others but injuries or poor performance created their problems at second base.

The negative with Kikuchi was his lack of stand out offensive tools. While his glove would be considered one of the best in the major leagues, his lack of power, inability to steal bases and his failure to hit for a high average or drum up a high enough On Base Percentage led to his downfall. His .270 career NPB batting average could translate to .250 or below at the major league level and his .315 career OBP would fall below .300. Major league teams are now looking for a little more offense in their second baseman.

This year Kikuchi appears to be showing a bit more homerun power while playing in Japan, but sacrificing his doubles numbers. Yesterday he hit his ninth homerun, which sets him up to surpass his career high 14 for a season if he continues at his present pace, but his doubles numbers have taken a hit. The result is that his .404 slugging percentage and .715 OPS this year are equivalent to his career numbers (.392/.707).

He could try again next year. Myworld thinks the results would be the same. At 30 years of age he has developed enough history to define his game and if major league teams failed to sign him last year his best bet would be to continue his solid performances in Japan.

Five Hanshin Tigers Players Test Positive for Corona Virus

Saturday, September 26th, 2020

Five Hanshin Tigers players tested positive for the Corona Virus, four from the top team and one from the minor league team. The four from the top team are infielders Kento Itohara and Naomasa Yokawa and pitchers Yuta Iwasada and Kosuke Baba. The minor league player was pitcher Masumi Hamachi, who had a brief callup in September with the major league club.

The minor league game between the Tigers and Dragons was cancelled. Players testing positive for the corona virus for the top team were removed from the roster for the weekend series with the Yakult Swallows. Forty players and staff from the minor league organization were tested and found to be negative. The Japan Times did not mention any testing procedures for the Hanshin Tigers team.

Earlier this season a couple Tiger players tested positive for the corona virus resulting in the delay of the start of the NPB season.

Wang Signs 5 Year Contract with Dragons

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Ex-Major League and KBO pitcher Wang Wei-Ching signed a five year $2.08 million contract with the Wei Chaun Dragons of the China Professional Baseball League (CPBL). Though he has not had success as a major league or KBO pitcher it still did not stop the Dragons from making him their top pick in the CPBL draft.

Wang pitched for the 2004 Taiwan Little League World Series team. Instead of playing in the CPBL he signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2011 and then was a Rule V pick up by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2013. He made his major league debut with the Brewers in 2014.

He did not have a lot of success in the major leagues, finishing with a 6.52 career ERA. After being released by the Brewers in early 2018 he tried his luck in the KBO with the NC Dinos. That did not turn out as well either with a 7-10 record and a 4.26 ERA in 25 starts. He tried to make his return to the major leagues in 2019, pitching first for the Oakland Athletics and next for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates released him at the end of the 2019 season.

Wang expressed an interest in returning to Taiwan to play baseball and the Dragons selected him as the first pick in the 2020 draft. Scott Boras was his negotiating agent. The $2.08 million is one of the largest contracts in CPBL history. Leave it to Boras to accomplish that. It also has an escape clause that allows the Dragons to release Wang from the contract after three years if he has an opportunity to pitch for an overseas team using the CPBL posting system.

Ex-O Kim in RBI surge

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Ex-Orioles Hyun-Soo Kim of the LG Twins is in an RBI surge. In his last seven games he has driven in 20 runs, with just one homerun. This has put him tied for first with KT Wiz Mel Rojas for RBIs with 106.

Kim and Roberto Ramos have been a formidable one-two punch in the Twins offense. Ramos has been the big homerun bat with 35 homeruns, second to Rojas in the KBO. Kim does not send as many balls over the fence, with only 21 homeruns but he has been an RBI machine. In the last seven games he has driven in 6, 5, 3 and 4 runs in four of those games, hitting only one homerun. He is also hitting .351, which is second to Doosan Bears Jose Miguel Fernandez, who is hitting .358 for the KBO lead.

One of the problems myworld had with Kim when he was with the Orioles was his inability to hit for power. At the major league level he was not a strong defensive outfielder, restricting him to a corner outfield spot. This is a position teams look for players with power. But if you are driving in runs like Kim is currently doing with the Twins, the power is secondary.

The Twins are in third place in the KBO, a certain lock to make the playoffs. They find themselves two games behind the Kiwoom Heroes and 4.5 games behind the DC Dinos.

Draci Brno Wins Czech Championships

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2020

Draci Brno won the Czech Baseball Championships, defeating last year’s champions the Arrows Ostrava in a best of five series 3-1. Draci Brno won the first two games 6-1 and 6-4. Arrows prevented the sweep by winning the third game 3-1. Draci won the fourth game 4-1 to take the series, Premek Chroust and Petr Cech going deep to fuel the victory.

Draci Brno won the regular season with a 13-2 record. The Arrows finished in third at 7-8. Draci swept the fourth place Eagles Prague to get into the championship in a best of three series. The third place Arrows upset the second place Kotalrka Prague 2 games to one to get into the finals to defend their championship.

For Draci Brno it was their 22nd championship, but after a three year absence this one must have tasted sweet. The Arrows had won the last two championships.

The Australian born Peter Moylan, the ex-Braves pitcher, pitched for Draci Brno in 2019. He became an Atlanta Braves analyst for the 2020 season.

Chen Returns to Japan

Monday, September 21st, 2020

Chen Wei-Yen appears to be returning to Japan. According to cpblstats.com he has signed a contract with the Chiba Lotte Marines. The Marines are still battling for the second playoff spot in the Pacific Division. The contract is for $290,000 for the last two months of the NPB season.

Chen originally pitched for the Chunichi Dragons from 2004 to 2011. In 2012 he became eligible for free agency and jumped to the Baltimore Orioles where he had a number of successful seasons with them. In his first season he finished fourth in the rookie of the year balloting. After becoming a free agent after the 2015 season he signed a large contract (5 years $80 million) with the Miami (Florida) Marlins and bombed after that. Despite owing him $22 million this year the Marlins released him after the 2019 season.

The Mariners signed him to a minor league contract for the 2020 season but he was ultimately released. It will be interesting to see if he has anything left in the tank to get the Marines into the playoffs. Chen has never had a lot of juice in his fastball, but relies on command to locate his pitches. That command has disappeared over time.

Therwil Flyers the Swiss Baseball Champions

Monday, September 21st, 2020

The Therwil Flyers swept the Bern Cardinals in a best of five series to become the baseball champions of Switzerland. Only the third game was competitive, with the Flyers winning the first two 16-8 and 16-3.

The third game the Flyers rallied for four runs in the eighth to turn a 5-2 deficit into a 6-5 lead. Michael Kratz got the big hit with a two run double. Takanobu Oshima got the win with 2.1 innings of scoreless relief.

These two teams had tied for first place during the regular season with 15-5 records.

Dane Dunning Has Choices for WBC

Friday, September 18th, 2020

Dane Dunning was recently called up by the White Sox to fit in their rotation. He was drafted by the Nationals but traded to the White Sox along with Reynaldo Lopez and Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton. That trade accounts for 60 percent of the playoff bound White Sox rotation. Last year the Nationals won the World Series with Eaton. This year it appears to be the White Sox turn to make a run with Dunning, Lopez and Giolito.

With the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the horizon Dunning could play for the United States team. If that doesn’t work out he could also play for South Korea. His mother was born in Korea making him eligible. According to a Yonhap News Agency article Dunning would love to play for South Korea, even though he has yet to visit the country. At some point he would embrace experiencing the culture there.

Traditionally, Korea has not looked to the United States to fill their WBC teams. They generally pick their teams from players in the KBO. Dunning though is a talent that could fill a rotation spot, along with current major leaguers Kim, Ryu and young pitching sensation Koo that would prove quite formidable.