Korea’s own “Moneyball” team, the Nexen Heroes, were still going strong Sunday after skyrocketing to the top at the beginning of May.
After sitting at the top of the league from May 23-25, a first for the club since April 2009, the team has danced between second and third.
Despite having the lowest budget, four million won ($3.5 million), out of the eight clubs, the team currently sits at joint second with the LG Twins after the game week.
And it’s the sluggers of the club, mainly 25-year-old Kang Jung-ho, who are keeping the team at the top.
The Heroes lead the league with 55 homers and a .746 OPS, ahead of the SK Wyverns with 54 home runs and the Samsung Lions with an OPS of .739. The Seoul-based team is also second in the league with 273 runs behind the Lions.
Nexen’s Kang Jung-ho (Yonhap News)
Nexen’s Kang is the one putting up a lot of numbers for the team leading the batting charts with 19 home runs, 47 runs and a 1.163 OPS. He also has a phenomenal batting average of .356, right behind Hanwha Eagles’ Kim Tae-kyun.
Other teams for the most part have also seen little change throughout the week.
For the Eagles, Kim and pitching legend Park Chan-ho still can’t seem to crawl out of last place since the start of the season ― even with starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin leading the charts with 98 strikeouts, a whopping 37 more than runner-up Lotte Giants’ Shane Youman.
Not doing much better is the Kia Tigers which have settled into seventh since mid-May and have really begun to lose sight of the middle pack.
And outside of SK, Kia and Hanwha, although holding steady to their ranks, are still in the ballgame with relatively close win-loss percentages less than halfway through the season. SK currently leads the league with 32 wins and 23 losses.
Meanwhile the Korea Baseball Organization will meet on Tuesday to review a proposal to launch a 10th team just a month after the NC Dinos were approved for the professional league.
With the new NCsoft team, the 2013 season is slated to have nine clubs compete throughout the season, which will cause problems for scheduling.
That is why observers have called for a quick decision from the KBO regarding a 10th club as baseball continues to grow in popularity here. The KBO is expected to decide on the 10th club on Tuesday.
With just over 3.6 million fans gracing the seven stadiums as of Sunday, the league could possibly see almost nine million fans by the end of the season, an all-time high. The KBO had 6.8 million fans come out to the parks in 2011.
By Robert Lee (email@example.com