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KBO Update: May 3 to May 9

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We check in on our adopted KBO team, the LG Twins.

LG Twins v Doosan Bears - Preseason Game
LG Twins left-handed pitcher Woo-chan Cha
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

As regular From Complex to Queens listeners know, we’ve decided to start following a KBO team in the absence of Mets baseball for the foreseeable future. We picked a team and will post updates on how they’re doing over in Korea. Why the LG Twins?

  • Represent a major metropolitan area.
  • Share Seoul (and Jamsil Baseball Stadium) with a rival team and compete for fans.
  • Have been a team that, on paper, should compete but just have not been able to put things together over the last few years
  • Have a strong pitching staff in 2020.
  • LG Corporation spends money on the team but does not always allocate that money wisely.
  • Retired the number 41, worn by one of the best right-handed pitchers in team history.

Sounds like the Mets to me!

MAY 05 (1-0)

LG Twins 8, Doosan Bears 2 (BOX)

Matched up against the defending KBO champs, the LG Twins beat the Doosan Bears to open up the 2020 KBO season in style. The Twins got on the board first, scoring in the bottom of the second when Yong-taik Park drew a walk and scored all the way from first on a Min-sung Kim double into left off of foreign right-hander Raul Alcantara. They kept scoring and scoring while veteran left-hander Woo-chan Cha turned in a quality effort.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 2-4, R, K
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 1-4, R
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-0
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 2-4, R, HR (1), 3 RBI
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 2-3, BB
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 0-0, R
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 0-2, R, BB, K, HBP
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 0-2, 2 R, 2 BB; The 41-year-old veteran has announced 2020 will be his final year
  • 3B Min-sung Kim: 2-3, R, BB, K
  • 3B Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-0
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 1-4, 2 RBI, K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 0-4, 2 K
  • LHP Woo-chan Cha: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR
  • LHP Hae-soo Jin: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Woo-young Jung: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Yun-sik Kim: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

MAY 06 (1-1)

Doosan Bears 5, LG Twins 2 (BOX)

The Bears had a big inning in the third, scoring all five of their runs. Three singles in a row loaded up the bases for first baseman Jae-il Oh, who came through in the clutch with a double that plated two runs. Left fielder Jae-hwan Kim scored another run with a sac fly, and second baseman Joo-hwan Choi put an exclamation point on the inning with a two-run homer. The Twins put a small dent in Doosan’s lead, plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth thanks to a Yong-taik Park single to left, but that would end up being all they could muster.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 1-4
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 0-3, HBP
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 2-4, R
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 1-4, R, K
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 0-3, BB, K
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 1-3, 2 RBI, BB, SB (1)
  • 3B Min-sung Kim: 0-4, K
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 0-3, K
  • PH Chang-gi Hong: 0-1, K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 1-4, K
  • RHP Eun-beom Song: 2.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, HR, L (0-1)
  • RHP Dong-hwan Choi: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Dae-yu Kim: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Min-ho Lee: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Sang-gyu Lee: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Geon-wook Yeo: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Gwang-eun Moon: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

May 07 (1-2)

Doosan Bears 9, LG Twins 3 (BOX)

Our old friend, former top prospect Chris Flexen took the bump for the Bears, and he did pretty well for himself. He scattered seven hits over six innings, striking out six, issuing just one unintentional walk, and earning his first KBO win. The Twins got to him in the second, scoring a run, and in the fourth, scoring two, but those three runs were nothing compared to the nine Doosan scored. Right-hander Chan-heon Jung and left-hander Yun-sik Kim combined to give up seven runs in the first half of the game, putting the Twins well behind the eight ball.

  • CF Lee Chun-woong: 0-3, BB, 2 K
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 1-2, K
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-1, E (1)
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 1-4
  • LF Chang-gi Hong: 0-0
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 1-4, K
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 0-0
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 2-4, 2 R
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 1-4, R
  • 3B Min-sung Kim: 1-4, 2 RBI
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 0-2, RBI, K
  • SS Ho-young Son: 0-0
  • SS Oh Ji-hwan Oh: 0-2, BB, 2 K, E (1)
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 0-0
  • RHP Chan-heon Jung: 4.0 IP, 5 R, 3 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 3 K, HR, L (0-1)
  • LHP Yun-sik Kim: 1.0 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Min-ho Lee: 3.0 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Dae-yu Kim: 1.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 H, 0 BB, 0 K

May 08 (1-3)

NC Dinos 13, LG Twins 5 (BOX)

Tyler Wilson has had success over the last two years that he has been in Korea, but he did not start the 2020 season off on the right foot, allowing seven runs over four-plus innings. Two of those runs were allowed by his replacement, Dae-hyun Kim, but Wilson put the men on base in that ugly six-run fifth. The offense got back three of those runs in the sixth, making it a 7-4 game, but a leaky bullpen allowed six more runs, putting things out of reach for the Twins, handing them their third-straight loss.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 1-4, R, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 0-3, BB, K
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-1
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 1-4, R, BB, K
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 3-5, R, RBI, K
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 2-5, R, RBI, 2 K
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 1-4, R
  • 3B Min-sung Kim: 1-3, 2 RBI, HBP
  • 3B Yong-yi Kim: 0-0
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 0-2, BB, K
  • C Jae-wook Park: 0-0, HBP
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 0-3, RBI, K
  • SS Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-0
  • RHP Tyler Wilson: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 4 BB, 2 K, HR, L (0-1)
  • RHP Dae-hyun Kim: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Sang-gyu Lee: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Gwang-eun Moon: 1.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, HR
  • RHP Dong-hwan Choi: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Woo-seok Ko: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

May 09 (1-3)

POSTPONED (RAIN)

HITTER OF THE WEEK

Hyun-soo Kim

6-17, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/0 SB

Despite being eligible to be drafted in the 2006 KBO First-Year Player Draft, Hyun-soo Kim went undrafted and instead was signed by the Doosan Bears as an undrafted free agent. He spent the entire season playing for Doosan’s Future’s League minor league squad but was able to make the first-string team in 2007 after incumbent outfielder Jae-woong Yoo sprained his ankle at the beginning of the season. Kim made the most of the opportunity given to him, hitting .273/.335/.398 with 5 home runs in 99 games, finishing the season as runner-up in KBO Rookie of the Year voting, losing to teammate Tae-Hoon Lim, whom the Bears had selected first overall in the 2005 KBO First-Year Player Draft. While the 2007 Rookie of the Year Award marked a high point for Lim, whose career then began tailing off, Hyun-soo Kim was just getting started. He had a mammoth sophomore season, batting .357/.454/.509 in 126 games, winning the batting title and finishing second in KBO MVP voting, 24 votes behind pitcher Kwang-Hyun Kim. He would keep hitting and hitting and hitting, earning the nickname “The Hitting Machine.” Over the next seven years, he would hit .316/.404/.492, earning four KBO Golden Glove Awards. In December 2015, he signed a two-year, $7 million contract with the Orioles, and in limited plate appearances, hit .273/.351/.368 with the Orioles and Phillies. In 2017, after his contract in the U.S. ended, he returned to South Korea, signing with the LG Twins for four years. The outfielder hit .362/.415/.589 with 20 home runs in his first year back and .304/.370/.437 with 11 in his second. Though he is on the wrong side of 30, he continued displaying his excellent bat-on-ball skills and elite eye and should continue being a plus contributor over the last two years of his contract.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Woo-chan Cha

6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR

Drafted by the Samsung Lions in the 2005 KBO First-Year Player Draft after graduating from Gunsan Commercial High School in Gunsan, South Korea, left-hander Woo-chan Cha became one of their more dependable pitchers for an entire decade. Armed with a fastball that sits in the high-80s-to-low-90s and a solid slider and changeup, Cha posted a combined 4.44 ERA in 1068.1 innings during his time there, with his best season coming in 2010, when he posted a 2.14 ERA in 126.1 innings. In 2016, Major League Baseball tendered a status check on him signaling that major league teams were interested in signing the unrestricted free agent, but in the end, he opted to sign with the LG Twins for a four-year, ₩9.5 billion (roughly $8 million) contract. The contract made him the highest paid pitcher in the league, surpassing the four-year, ₩9 billion (roughly $7.5 million) contract Suk-min Yoon signed with the KIA Tigers after returning to Korea following his failed attempt to pitch in the MLB with the Baltimore Orioles. The veteran southpaw was excellent in his first season with the Twins, posting a 3.43 ERA in 175.2 innings in 2017, but struggled in 2018, posting a 6.09 ERA in 170 innings. His 2019 season was somewhere in between both, with a 4.12 ERA in 168.1 innings, meaning that the 33-year-old’s 2020 season may go either way.