Heroes Rolling with Winning Streak

The favorite KBO team for myworld is the NC Dinos, who currently stand at the top of the standings. Breathing heavily on them is the team that myworld feels is the most talented in the KBO, the Kiwoom Heores. Yesterday they swept the LG Twins in a doubleheader 5-2 and 8-5 to extend their winning streak to eight games. The Twins are struggling now with a six game losing streak. The Heroes still find themselves three back of the Dinos, in second place in the KBO.

The Heroes are a long ways from the top winning streak in the KBO. The SK Wyverns, who are nestling near last place in the KBO hold that record with a 23 game winning streak in 2010. They just recently broke a 8 game losing streak with a 7-0 win over the Doosan Bears. The team that started the Wyverns on the losing streak was the Kiwoom Heroes.

The Heroes may have one of the best players in the game in the 21 year old Jung-Hoo Lee. In his previous three years in the KBO, most of them as a teenager he never hit below .324. Power was absent in his game and as a rightfielder that would be a prerequisite for most players not named Ichicro to survive in the major leagues. This year Lee has found the power game with seven homeruns early in the season, already passing his KBO high of six. He is also hitting .382. Last year was his first year walking more than striking out (45/40). The increase in power has not sacrificed his average nor his ability to make contact (20/13). Major league teams will pay a pretty penny to get this youngster on their team.

Next year shortstop Ha-Seong Kim may be coming to the major leagues. He replaced Jung-Ho Kang as the shortstop of the Heroes when Kang left for the Pirates. At the time he was just 19 years old. Now he is just 24. He hit 19 homeruns that first complete year to match his age and has been consistently around .290 with twenty plus homeruns for his KBO career. Last year he slugged 19 homeruns and drove in 104 runs. He got off to a slow start this year but is now rolling getting his average up to .271 with 10 homeruns and 31 RBIs. He is another player with more walks than whiffs (29/23).

The Heroes are expecting Kim to depart for the major leagues next year so they have been playing 21 year old Hye-Sung Kim at shortstop a lot and moving Ha-Seong Kim to third. It is ironic that both Kims in their rookie year in the KBO hit .188. Hye-Sung does not seem to show the power as Ha-Seong but he is solid defensively and is hitting .287 with 4 homeruns and 20 RBIs. He plays second base when the other Kim plays shortstop. The Heroes made him their first round pick in 2017.

The Heroes have been doing all this winning after releasing their foreign player Taylor Motter, who only hit .114 when he was playing. They have replaced him with former Chicago Cub infielder Addison Russell. Russell will probably need to move over to third base where the Heroes have a hole in their offense after he fulfills his 14 days in quarantine.

The Heroes are also do all this winning without the normal production from Byung-Ho Park, who played briefly for the Minnesota Twins in the major and minor leagues. Park averages about 40 to 50 homeruns in the KBO. Last year he only hit 33 which was a down year for him. It also ended a KBO streak of five straight seasons of 100 or more RBIs when he finished two short of 100. The power is still there with his 11 homeruns this year, but his average is down at .231. His career KBO average is .286 but he has had an inability to make contact.

The Heroes standout pitcher this year is foreigner Eric Jokisch. This is his second year in the KBO after going 13-9 with a 3.13 ERA last year. This year he has roared out of the gate with a 6-2, 1.63 ERA. He did start out the season with five straight wins, then suffered two losses in a row before recovering again with a win in his last outing.

The 25 year old Sang-Woo Jo has been dynamite out of the pen. Last year Jo earned a career high 20 saves with a 2.66 ERA. This year he has been difficult to hit, with a 2-0 record, 9 saves and a 0.59 ERA. He has only given up one earned run all season in 15.1 innings, limiting the opposition to 10 hits. Jo seems to be coming into his own. He did miss two weeks because of a stiff neck but the Heroes had enough confidence in him to put him back in the closers spot for two saves on Thursday against the Twins.

The Heroes also hope to get improved production from Jake Brigham. Last year Jake finished 13-5 with a 2.96 ERA in his third KBO season. He has had three years of 10 or more wins. He missed the start of this season because of injury and has gotten off to a slow start (0-1, 5.00) in his first four starts. He has yet to survive into the sixth inning. The Heroes hope he gets it together.

The Heroes also have signing rights to Jung-Ho Kang. If they sign him Kang will have to serve a suspension after his three DUI convictions in Korea. The Heroes this year do not seem to have room for Kang in their infield but next year they could use him if Kim departs for the major leagues. When Kang was in the KBO he averaged over 20 homeruns per year with 40 homeruns in his last season before departing for free agency to the Pirates in the major leagues.

The Heroes will next play the Kia Tigers. The Matt Williams managed team is 23-19, sitting in fifth place. That would be enough to make the playoffs in a wild card scenario, but the higher up you finish in the standings the better off you are.

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