With live sports on everyone’s mind, the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) could fill a void for many baseball fans. Not only will there be daily fantasy sports available on Draft Kings and Fan Duel, but this announcement by ESPN may whet the appetite.

Taking a crash course in the KBO over the last few days reveals some trends, teams and players of interest. This will focus on all of these facets of the league. Defending champion Doosan Bears look to defend their title along with finishing atop the regular season in 2019: 

Like the major league baseball, the KBO will play a shortened season meaning mayhem could ensue. Beneath the records, some intriguing numbers before looking at the best options on each team for fantasy purposes. 

With a league average of 4.55 runs scored per contest last year, only four teams owned an average runs scored per game above it: 

  • Kiwoom Heroes 5.42

  • Doosan Bears 5.11

  • NC Dinos 4.68

  • SK Wykerns 4.55

Since on-base percentage in the KBO represents a trend in approach, it’s league average OBP of .337 sits 14 points above the MLB percent when comparing 2019. Once again, four teams finished with an above average team OBP compared to league average:

  • Doosan Bears .355

  • Kiwoom Heroes .354

  • NC Dinos .345

  • KT Wiz .344

Using a reduced flight baseball, the KBO curtailed its home run friendly atmosphere from 2018 cutting runs scored by over a run on average helping pitchers rebound. Again, since the game in the KBO does not necessarily reflect the game in America, it will feature pitchers throwing to contact with sinkers and off-speed pitches yielding fewer strikeouts. Still, using last year’s statistics, here’s the teams who kept their run average per nine innings below the league average of 4.61: 

  • SK Wyverns 3.80

  • Doosan Bears 3.86

  • Kiwoom Heroes 4.03

  • NC Dinos 4.42

  • LG Twins 4.44

With more contact comes more traffic on the bases. The KBO average WHIP of 1.400 finished higher than the MLB’s 1.33 mark from last season. But its average ERA ranked below at 4.17 compared to a 4.51 ERA in the majors. 

Noting the KBO could be akin to old-time baseball with power found at the corner infield and outfield positions with defense minded middle infielders. Pitchers work on efficiency and would align to the ideal preached in Bull Durham:



In an effort to provide a crash course in the KBO, team previews with player’s of interest and notes on the foreign players to focus on will be tantamount to any DFS success. Going in alphabetical order for the 10 teams, here’s the cliff notes on the KBO:

Doosan Bears

Joining Doosan last year provided Alcantara with success. He went 11-11 with a 4.01 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 100 strikeouts over 172.2 innings. Flexen joins the defending champs hoping to retool his sinker with an upper 80’s MPH slider which can fuel success in the KBO. Designated hitter Fernandez slashed .344/.413/.483 in 2019 with 87 runs, 15 home runs and 88 RBI. He recorded more walks (61) than strikeouts (54) giving the Bears stability in the lineup. Park hit .319/.397/.465 in 127 games with 83 runs, 27 doubles, 10 home runs, 64 RBI and 12 stolen bases. However, if looking for some power in the lineup it’s Oh who launched 21 last year in 529 at-bats with a .293/.369/.495 slash. Yu will slot second or third in the rotation. He finished 11-8 last year with only 64 strikeouts in 166.1 innings but with a better than league average WHIP (1.281). 

Hanwha Eagles

Bell went 11-10 last year with a 3.50 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 134:63 K:BB for the Eagles. Saupold will take the mound for Opening Day coming off a solid 12-11 season with a 3.51 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 135 strikeouts in 192.1 innings. Known for his defense in the states, Hoying flourished in 2019 hitting .284/.343/.460 with 18 home runs, 73 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 124 contests. At first base, Kim hit for average with a .305/.382/.395 line but lacked in power. Second baseman Jung provides runs (83) and some stolen base appeal (14) but hit .262/.317/.374 last year. 

Kia Tigers

Taking a chance with the rotation, Brooks could be a breakout performer in the KBO. Brooks owns upside in regards to strikeouts armed with a four-seam and two-seam fastball along with his slider. Perhaps he can work without using his change as often in a new league. Gagnon will look to rebound on foreign ground and benefit from limited flight baseballs. If his fastball improves and the change-up takes, Gagnon could be above average. Tucker, known more for being the older brother of prospect Kyle fared well in his 95 game sample last year hitting a robust .311/.382/.479 with 50 runs, nine home runs and 50 RBI in only 357 at-bats. Yang anchored the rotation last year winning 16 games with 163 strikeouts in 184.2 innings with a 2.29 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Choi slashed .300/.413/.485 with 65 runs, 17 home runs and 86 RBI in 136 contests for the Tigers. 

Kiwoom Heroes

For the first time in these team previews, the Korean players take center stage on offense with the Heroes. Many will recall Park as a failed experiment by the Twins but he led the KBO in home runs last year with 33 while hitting .280/.398/.560. His willingness to drive the ball to all fields plays well in Korea with many pitchers working to the outside of the strike zone trying to induce pulled ground balls. Kim represents an exciting skillset leading the league with 33 stolen bases, hit .307/.389/.491 and hit 19 home runs. Think of him as the KBO version of Trea Turner . Given the lack of upside at shortstop, he will be a popular DFS target in early contests requiring players by position. Lee compares to Ichiro and even wears the same number (51) in games. At age 20, Lee slashed .336/.386/.456 with a 7.3 walk percentage versus a 6.3 percent strikeout rate. He also racked up extra-base hits with 31 doubles, 10 triples and six home runs leading to 91 runs along with 68 RBI while stealing 13 bases. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. 

As for the imports, Brigham went 13-5 last year with a 2.96 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 130:46 K:BB in 158.1 innings. Jokisch’s repertoire translates well to the new KBO winning 13 of his 22 decisions with a 3.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 141:39 K:BB. Motter’s a wild card signed to replace slugger Jerry Sands who left for greener pastures in Japan. 

KT Wiz

Seeing Cuevas with a 13-10 record last year comes as a bit of surprise. He also notched a 3.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 135:63 K:BB over 184 innings. Despaigne could thrive or flame out, much like any of his starts in the major leagues. If Despaigne can keep the ball on the ground and generate some strikeouts throwing from every angle, he could be interesting. Take a wait and see approach here unless it’s a tournament for DFS. Rojas Jr. found his stride in the KBO launching 67 home runs the last two years with 218 RBI. In 2019, Rojas Jr. slashed .322/.384/.530 with 68 runs, 24 home rus and 104 RBI in 142 contests. Hwang hit 20 home runs with 67 RBI and a .283/.357/.467 line last year. Kang will be outfield eligible in DFS play but transitioning to first base for the Wiz. At only 20 years old, he owned an impressive .336/.416/.495 slash with growth in his power potentially on tap for this season. 

LG Twins

Former struggling pitcher makes good in the KBO appears to be a recurring theme. Kelly joins this group owning a 14-12 record last year with a 2.55 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 126:41 K:BB in 180 innings. Wilson also thrived going 14-7 with a 2.92 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 137:44 K:BB over 185 innings. Ramos will be an intriguing player in the KBO. Perhaps he can take the Eric Thames path to success. Last year in Triple-A, Ramos hit .309/.400/.580 with 30 home runs and 105 RBI. However, he also struggled with contact recording a strikeout percentage of 28 percent. If he can reduce his whiff rate carrying over his power Ramos could succeed for the Twins. Shortstop Oh scored 63 runs with 23 doubles, nine home runs, 53 RBI, 27 stolen bases and a .252/.339/.378 slash in 134 games last year. 

Lotte Giants

Trying to climb out of last place, the Giants inked Sampson to anchor the rotation. But, he will miss the opening of the season due to a family illness. Sampson could do well upon his return but how long will he need to be ready to pitch? His low 90’s fastball with a slider could produce strikeouts in Korea. Speaking of strikeout, Straily will take the mound on Opening Day for Lotte. He tried to work at the top or above the strike zone in the states which goes against the grain in the KBO. So, Straily could rack up strikeouts with his four-seam fastball elevated with a plus-change but if teams foul off pitches up in the zone, his pitch count could escalate quickly. Machado joins the Giants coming off a .260/.371/.480 slash in Triple-A Iowa last year with 17 home runs and 65 RBI. If he plays solid defense and the strikeout rate dips, he could benefit from a fresh start. 

Lee will not be getting any younger but still hit .285/.355/.435 last year with 23 doubles, 16 home runs and 88 RBI in 135 games. Son appeared in 134 contests with 78 runs, 22 doubles, 10 home runs, 63 RBI, 13 stolen bases and a .295/.360/.400 slash. 

NC Dinos

Looking to make a push in the standings, the Dinos added frustrating Altherr to its outfield. Not sure which iteration of Altherr lands in the KBO, but in a league predicated on contact, his power and speed combination could be effective. Rucinski went 9-9 with a 3.05 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 119:45 K:BB in 177.1 innings. Wright profiles to succeed with health in the KBO since he works in the strike zone with a lower 90’s MPH fastball. 

Luckily, the Dinos own a prodigious hitter at catcher in Yang. He could benefit from moving to first base in the future. Yang slashed a robust .354/.438/.574 over 459 plate appearances walking more than he struck out and blasting 20 home runs (10th in the KBO). Na’s coming off knee surgery but slashed .366/.443/.645 in 23 games prior to his season being cut short last year. He last recorded a 20 home run and 20 stolen base campaign in 2015 but Na could be cheap in DFS due to last year’s results. Park slashed .344/.403/.434 in 125 games primarily at second base with 23 doubles, one home run, 45 RBI and 18 stolen bases. Koo went 10-7 as a 22 year old in the KBO with a 3.20 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 114:41 K:BB in 107 innings. So there’s some strikeout upside to be mined here. 

Samsung Lions

Coming to the KBO from Japan, Buchanon brings a low strikeout rate but could do better with his upper 80’s MPH fastball, slider and change with a reduced flight baseball. Ben Lively racked up 58 strikeouts in 57 innings last year with a 3.95 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in nine starts with Samsung last season. Saladino could play all over the infield for the Lions but will his bat play well in this climate? Hak-Ju Lee hit seven home runs with 15 stolen bases and a .262 average last year. Won-suk Lee hit 19 home runs with 76 RBI but a .246 average in 2019. Baek will toe the rubber on Opening Day but his 8-10 record with a 4.24 ERA and 1.36 WHIP with only 82 strikeouts in 157 innings giving up 17 home runs last year does not bode well. 

SK Wyverns

Much of the Wyverns' hope lies in KIngham taking over as the ace of this staff. Kingham pounds the strike zone and may do well in the KBO with past major league pedigree. Pinto also could be a hit with velocity upside if he can throw strikes. Romak slashed .276/.374/.508 with 86 runs, 29 home runs, 95 RBI and 73 walks in 137 games last year. Park went 8-11 last season with 100 strikeouts in 144 innings but needs to reduce traffic on the bases. 

Since there’s a limited amount of data available, perhaps the first week should be focused primarily on cash games until numbers settle in and lineups take shape. Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm to remain ahead of the competition. 

Statistical Credits: