The first month of the 2020 KBO League season is in the books. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the best and worst performances from this past month, starting with the hitters.
Foreign-Born Players Making an Impact
Considering the level of competition here in the United States, it probably won’t surprise many that former Major League players are finding success in the KBO. Four of the top ten league leaders in OPS at the end of May were foreign-born players.
LG Twins 1B Roberto Ramos has been a force, posting a 1.263 OPS (second in KBO) and an eye-popping .438 ISO (best in KBO). Former Angels infielder Jose Miguel Fernandez (Doosan Bears), who batted .344 in 2019 (second-best in KBO), is at it again in Korea this season. Among qualified hitters (min. 25 PA), Fernandez finished May sixth in extra-base hits (13), third in OPS (1.191), and second in batting average (.468).
Other notable performances from foreign-born players include Kia Tigers OF Preston Tucker (15 XBH (tied for first in KBO), 1.007 OPS), and KT Wiz OF Mel Rojas (.409 BA (fourth in KBO), 14 XBH (tied for third in KBO)).
Motter and Kim Struggle in Korea
I think it’s fair to say that Taylor Motter would like to forget his first month in Korea. After spending 2019 bouncing between the Minors and New Britain of the Atlantic League, the 30-year old infielder has struggled so far in Korea.
Motter, now with the Kiwoom Heroes, batted just .114 in the KBO during the month of May, which was the second-worst batting average figure in the league (min. 25 PA). In addition, the former Mariner posted just a paltry .335 OPS (third-worst in KBO). It is, however, important to point out that Motter is also not receiving regular playing time. The 30-year old had only played in 10 of Kiwoom’s first 24 games of the season.
Motter’s teammate ByungHo Park has also struggled at the plate. The former Twins slugger, who has hit 76 home runs in his last two seasons in the KBO, has lived up to his billing in the power category, as he smashed five home runs during the first month. However, he’s also struggled with making consistent contact, as the 33-year old batted just .212 and led all KBO hitters in strikeouts (33).
NC Dinos’ Hitters Are Tearing It Up
The NC Dinos finished May in first place, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that hitters from the team litter the leaderboards. 1B/OF Jin-Sung Kang led all KBO hitters (min. 25 PA) during the month of May in OPS (1.347) and wOBA (.546). Slugger Sung-Bum Na finished May second in home runs (7) and the top 15 in SLG (.582). 2B Min-Woo Park (.386 OBP, .864 OPS, 9 XBH) has been a key cog for the Dinos, while also rarely striking out. Park, among qualified hitters (min. 25 PA), has the second-lowest K% rate (3.9%) in the KBO.
Former Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr has also emerged as a key piece for the top team in the KBO League. While Altherr has struck out quite a bit so far (29.5% K% rate in May-tenth worst in KBO), but he also finished May tied for second on the Dinos in home runs (5), while also driving in 18 runs in 23 games.
KBO May wOBA Leaders
We’ll finish this article highlighting the players who finished with the highest wOBA in the KBO for the month of May. Take a look at the leaderboard:
|1||Jin-Sung Kang||NC Dinos||.546|
|2||Roberto Ramos||LG Twins||.521|
|3||Jose Miguel Fernandez||Doosan Bears||.504|
|4||Mel Rojas||KT Wiz||.484|
|5||Baek-ho Kang||KT Wiz||.466|
|6||Hyun Soo Kim||LG Twins||.443|
|7||Dong-won Park||Kiwoom Heroes||.442|
|8||Yong-ho Cho||KT Wiz||.439|
|9||Jung-hoo Lee||Kiwoom Heroes||.436|
|10||Ja-wook Koo||Samsung Lions||.428|
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