With MLB still shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and summer quickly approaching, you may find yourself missing baseball soon if you aren't already. While we're still waiting on word about a return to play plan here in North America, there was an Opening Day this week in South Korea.
Thestarted its season on Tuesday and guess what? You're going to be able to tune into games if you're motivated enough to wake up and turn on ESPN in the wee hours of the morning, or if your sleep schedule is already so messed up that you routinely find yourself awake at 4 a.m.
Perhaps you're interested in the KBO but want to know what you're getting yourself into first? Maybe you want to pick a team to root for so you don't crawl out of bed to watch a bunch of freakin' losers? Understandable, so I've got you covered. Here's a little bit of precious info about all 10 KBO teams as they head into a new season.
Doosan Bears (1982)
The Bears are the KBO's first established team as well as the first champion in league history. They're also the reigning champs and have been a bit of a powerhouse in the KBO recently, making the championship (Korean Series) in six of the past seven seasons -- winning three titles in that span (six overall). You might be called a frontrunner if you pull for them but, hey, winning is more fun than not winning.
Players to watch: Lee Young-Ha, 22, is a rising ace. Outfielder Jae-hwan Kim hits bombs and will be looking for MLB employment this winter.
Kia Tigers (1982)
Not only do the Tigers get great gas mileage with relatively low MSRP listings, they're also the most successful team in KBO history. They have won a league-most 11 titles and, incredibly, are still undefeated in the Korean Series with a pristine 11-0 record. That being said, their only title of the past decade came in 2017, so I guess they're kind of like the KBO version of the Yankees? No word on if their younger fans love to brag about titles they weren't alive to see.
Players to watch: Left-handed pitcher Hyun-jong Yang, 32, has been a Korean standout for years and was the best pitcher (and arguably the best player) in the league last season according to:
The top performer during the 2019 season, according to STATIZ's Wins Above Replacement metric, was Kia Tigers left-hander Hyeon-jong Yang. Yang, who posted a 2.29 ERA over 184 innings while striking out nearly five times as many batters as he walked, throws from an over-the-top slot. He deserves credit for making strides with his command, as he had walked at least five per nine innings in five of his first six seasons; he's walked 2.1 or fewer per nine in each of his last three seasons.
LG Twins (1982)
Just like their namesake in Minnesota, the LG Twins don't seem very interesting.
Lotte Giants (1982)
The Giants are one of the KBO's original six teams and are seemingly the lovable losers of the bunch. They're apparently the most popular team in the KBO despite having only won two titles since 1982, making them the least successful team of the original six. They finished dead last in the league last season with a record of 48-93-3.
However, they do have their strengths. If you're the kind of person who likes to take fashion into your consideration, the Giants have the best uniforms in KBO in my opinion. Their wordmark is somewhat similar to the San Francisco Giants' 80s era throwback script... it's a clean look.
They have a passionate fanbase and tend to draw super well, but that won't matter much this year with the pandemic restrictions. However, it should be noted that their mascot is an adorable seagull, and that's got to count for something.
Players to watch: Jeon Jun-Woo is one of the most exciting leadoff hitters in the KBO and he does stuff like this...
Samsung Lions (1982)
The Lions have the most postseason appearances (27) and the second-most titles (eight) in KBO history. They went through a dominant stretch at the beginning of this decade, winning four straight championships from 2011-2014 and bookending that run with two runner-up finishes. However, they haven't qualified for the playoffs since 2015 and finished 8th in the league standings last year. Their logo and color scheme is similar to the Detroit Lions, which is very concerning.
Hanwha Eagles (1986)
The first expansion team in the KBO, the Eagles haven't won a playoff series since 2007 and have only qualified once during that time. Things haven't been good lately but they have a passionate fanbase and did have a period of success from the 1990s to early 2000s when they were nicknamed the "Dynamite Bats" thanks to the raw power in their lineup and the city of Hanwha's reputation for explosives production. That's pretty badass.
SK Wyverns (2000)
These guys were looking like the best team in the league last season but choked down the stretch. They blew a seven-game lead in the standings and finished tied with the Doosan Bears atop the table with a record of 88-55-1. Then they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay Lightning fans, we've got your team!
Players to watch: Corner infielder Jeong Choi is a career .290 hitter with more than 330 home runs and 1000 RBIs over 15 seasons.
He also may have a bit of a temper, it seems. Who doesn't love a good wild card?!
Kiwoom Heroes (2008)
The Heroes placed third in the league standings last year, finishing just a few games behind SK and Doosan. They eventually made the Korean Series and fell just short of their first title in KBO history, but they've got talent and could make another run this year. Their primary mascot is named "Teokdori (Mr. Jaw)" and is just a guy with a big jaw. Not sure what that's all about.
Players to watch: According to our R.J. Anderson, SS Ha-seong Kim and OF Jung-hoo Lee could both be MLB prospects, with Kim being posted as early as this winter. Meanwhile, Byung-ho Park led the league in homers last year and he's an expert level bat-flipper. That's all I need to know.
NC Dinos (2013)
I'll be honest with you, the Dinos have some very disappointing branding for a team named the Dinos. There's not a single dinosaur (or even a dino-mite) in sight on their uniforms or logos, but they do have some dinosaur mascots... and they're pretty rad. Do not even think of mixing it up with Dandi the Tyrannosaurus in a dance battle unless you're prepared to get worked.
If those dancing dinosaurs can't sell you, I'm not even going to bother trying.
Players to watch: Left-handed pitcher Chang-mo Koo, 23, is a prolific strikeout artist on the mound. Catcher Eui-ji Yang was arguably the best position player in the league last year
The best position player was Eui-ji Yang, a catcher with the NC Dinos. He hit .354/.438/.574 with 20 home runs and more walks than strikeouts. He was formerly a member of the Doosan Bears, but he signed a four-year pact worth roughly $10 million in December 2018. That represented the second-richest contract in the KBO, behind only Dae-ho Lee's deal with the Lotte Giants.
KT Wiz (2015)
The Wiz are the KBO's newest team and they absolutely stink. They've done nothing of note since entering the league in 2015 but are a young team with some promising players in the mix, so here's an opportunity to get in on the ground floor. If you're in the merch game, their cap insignia is pretty awesome. If you're in the mascot game, they've got a couple of horrifying demon things.
Players to watch: They've got a 20-year-old outfielder named Baek-ho Kang who is considered by many to be the future of the league.