Home Sports KBO Weekly - Power rankings, top plays and performers, and what's ahead

KBO Weekly – Power rankings, top plays and performers, and what’s ahead

And on the seventh day, the KBO rested.

Baseball-starved fans everywhere rejoiced as the Korea Baseball Organization, the highest level of baseball in South Korea, opened its season last week, becoming one of the first major professional sports leagues to return to action during the coronavirus pandemic. It wasn’t the major leagues American fans have longed to see, but there was plenty of excitement (even in empty stadiums), with diving plays, great pitching performances and plenty of home runs — plus the KBO signature bat flips.

Monday traditionally is a leaguewide off day in the KBO, and that provides us an opportunity to update our Power Rankings, look back at Week 1 and peek ahead at what’s to come.

ESPN’s KBO Power Rankings

1. Kiwoom Heroes: 5-1 (Last week: 1) — Sang Woo Cho has been the anchor for the busy Kiwoom bullpen, going 3-for-3 in save chances.

2. Doosan Bears: 3-2 (3)Jose Fernandez of Cuba, who hit .344 for Doosan last year, leads the KBO with a .591 average (13-for-22).

3. LG Twins: 2-3 (2) — The Twins rallied from a 6-0 first-inning deficit Sunday to hand the NC Dinos their first loss, 10-7.

4. NC Dinos: 4-1 (6) — The Dinos broke out of the gate 4-0, getting solid starts from former big leaguer Drew Rucinski and Chang Mo Koo, who combined to throw 12 shutout innings.

5. Lotte Giants: 5-0 (8) — A league-best 3.13 team ERA led to a big start for the Giants, who finished last in 2019.

6. SK Wyverns: 1-4 (4) — SK has scored a league-low 17 runs despite Dong Min Han’s league-high .944 slugging percentage.

7. KT Wiz: 1-4 (5) — The young Wiz pitching staff is off to a slow start, with a 7.19 team ERA.

8. Samsung Lions: 2-4 (7) — The Lions, who are hitting just .199 as a team, scored more than half of their 27 total runs in a 14-2 win over Kia.

9. Kia Tigers: 2-4 (9) — The Tigers have the league’s worst run differential (-15), but they also have Week 1’s top hitter, Preston Tucker (.476, 3 HRs, 11 RBIs). Tucker played three MLB seasons with the Braves, Reds and Astros.

10. Hanwha Eagles: 2-4 (10) — Hanwha looks to bounce back from a three-game weekend sweep against the Giants.

(Selected by Joon Lee, Alden Gonzalez and Dan Mullen)

The week that was and what’s ahead

One thing to know that happened last week: Dan Straily, one of the most recognizable names to American fans, had one of the best outings of Week 1, throwing seven shutout innings with 11 strikeouts, no walks and three hits allowed in Lotte’s 4-0 win over SK on Sunday. Straily, an eight-year MLB journeyman, appeared in 14 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 2019.

One thing to watch this week: Are the Lotte Giants for real? They’ll get a major test when they face the Doosan Bears, the defending Korean Series champs, in a three-game series starting Tuesday.

Viral moment of the week: KBO newcomer Dixon Machado, who played 172 games with the Detroit Tigers from 2015 to ’18, has created a lot of excitement for the unbeaten Lotte Giants, as you can tell from the announcer’s call on his third home run of the young season:

Bat flip of the week: We can’t have a KBO Weekly without at least one bat flip.

play

0:28

Kang-Nam Yoo hammers the ball far left, then flips the bat after LG Twins’ second homer of the day.

Most impressive stat of the week: The Dinos led the LG Twins 6-0 after one inning Sunday but ended up losing 10-7. For comparison, MLB teams holding a six-run or greater lead after one inning are 113-1 since 2010. And in the KBO, that wasn’t even the biggest comeback of the day! Doosan held a 10-3 lead over the Wiz after five innings, only to see KT score twice in the ninth to tie it 11-11. The Wiz went up 12-11 in the 10th inning but couldn’t close the deal. The Bears pulled even on a homer by Jae Il Oh in the bottom of the 10th and won in the 11th on a Wiz error.

KBO on ESPN broadcast schedule

Stream live KBO games and replays on WatchESPN

(All times ET; in addition to the game replays listed, all KBO League games on ESPN2 will also reair leading directly into the next live game telecast.)

Tuesday, May 12

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2 — KT Wiz vs. NC Dinos (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — KT Wiz vs. NC Dinos (rebroadcast)

Wednesday, May 13

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2 — SK Wyverns vs. LG Twins (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — SK Wyverns vs. LG Twins (rebroadcast)

Thursday, May 14

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2 — SK Wyverns vs. LG Twins (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — SK Wyverns vs. LG Twins (rebroadcast)

Friday, May 15

5:30 a.m.: ESPN2 — Doosan Bears vs. KIA Tigers (live)
2 p.m.: ESPN2 — Doosan Bears vs. KIA Tigers (rebroadcast)

Saturday, May 16

4 a.m.: ESPN — Doosan Bears vs. KIA Tigers (live)

Sunday, May 17

4 a.m.: ESPN — Kiwoom Heroes vs. LG Twins (live)

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