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KBO Update, June 14 to June 20: Bad News Bears

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

Lotte Giants v LG Twins
Ji-hwan Oh
Photo by Han Myung-Gu/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.
  • Staff ace, Casey Kelly, has been denied numerous wins over the years due to anemic hitting and/or a leaky bullpen despite pitching quality starts.
  • 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!

Standings

June 14 (22-13)

LT Twins 10, Lotte Giants 6 (BOX)

The Giants scored a pair of runs off of Casey Kelly in the top of the first, and then another two in the top of the fourth, but the Twins finally answered in the fifth, scoring four runs of their own off of right-hander Adrian Sampson, tying things up at 4-4 apiece. The offense woke up further in the sixth, and the team put up a six-spot. Twins reliever Dae-hyun Kim did his best to cough up the lead, allowing two runs without even recording a single out, but the relievers behind him kept the boat from sinking.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 2-3, 3 RBI, BB
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 2-5, R, RBI, K
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 0-3, K
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 2-4, R, RBI
  • 3B Min-sung Kim: 2-3
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 0-1, R
  • 1B Ho-eun Kim: 2-3, R
  • 3B Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-1, R
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 0-2, K, E
  • PH Chang-gi Hong: 0-0, BB
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-1, R, K
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 2-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 2-4, 2 R, RBI, K
  • RHP Casey Kelly: 6.0 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, HR, W (3-1)
  • RHP Dae-hyun Kim: 0.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Hae-soo Jin: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K,
  • RHP Eun-beom Song: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Woo-young Jung: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

June 15 (22-13)

NO GAME (SCHEDULE)

June 16 (23-13)

LG Twins 9, Hanwha Eagles 5 (BOX)

The Twins came out of the gate hot, scoring five runs in the top of the first. Nine batters came to bat, with second baseman Ju-hyeon Jung doing the most damage with a bases loaded triple down the right field line. Starter Chan-heon Jung was on cruise control for most of the game thanks to that big lead. After an uncaught third strike and a single put runners on the corners, he was replaced and the Eagles finally scored. The Twin bullpen was a bit leaky, with Hanwha scoring all eight runs of theirs in the seventh and ninth, but the Twins were able to keep them at bay.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 1-3, R, BB, K
  • LF Chang-gi Hong: 1-1
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 2-5
  • CF Min-jae Shin: 0-0
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 1-5, R
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 0-0
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 3-4, 2 R, HR (5), 2 RBI, BB
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 2-4, 2 R, RBI
  • 3B Ho-young Son: 0-1
  • 1B Ho-eun Kim: 1-4, R
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 0-1
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 2-3, R, 2 RBI, HBP
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 2-5, R, HR (3), 4 RBI
  • SS Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-4, K
  • RHP Chan-heon Jung: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, W (3-1)
  • LHP Sung-hoon Choi: 0.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Geon-wook Yeo: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Hae-soo Jin: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Woo-chan Lee: 0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Eun-beom Song: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, HBP
  • RHP Woo-young Jung: 0.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

June 17 (24-13)

LG Twins 7, Hanwha Eagles 1 (BOX)

Even while sitting Roberto Ramos for a few days to let him deal with ankle soreness, the LG Twins lineup have continued to put up crooked numbers. Against the hapless Eagles, the Twins scored seven runs without hitting even a single home run.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 2-2, 2 R, 2 BB, CS
  • RF Chang-gi Hong: 0-1, R, SB (3)
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 3-4, 3 RBI, K
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 2-5, 2 RBI, K
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 1-4, R, BB
  • CF Min-jae Shin: 0-0
  • DH Keun-woo Jeong: 1-4, R, BB
  • 1B Ho-eun Kim: 1-4, R, K
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 0-0
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 2-3, R, 2 RBI
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 0-1
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 1-3
  • 3B Ho-young Son: 0-3
  • 3B Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-1
  • RHP Chan-gyu Lim: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HBP, W (3-2)
  • LHP Sung-hoon Choi: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Dae-hyun Kim: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K

June 18 (25-13)

LG Twins 9, Hanwha Eagles 7 (BOX)

The Twins swept the lowly Eagles, but it was a lot closer than it should’ve been. Tyler Wilson was solid, tossing a quality start, but the bullpen had more holes than swiss cheese. Woo-young Jung was the biggest culprit, allowing three runs in the bottom of the ninth and allowing the Eagles to come within a few runs, but luckily, the right-hander was able to get that illusive final out.

  • CF Chang-gi Hong: 0-5, 2 K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 1-3, 3 R, BB, HBP, E
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 3-4, 2 R, HR (4), 2 RBI, BB, CS (1)
  • DH Roberto Ramos: 0-2, 3 BB, 2 K
  • DH Min-jae Shin: 0-0, R, SB (1)
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 0-4, BB, 2 K, CS (2)
  • 1B Ho-eun Kim: 1-4, RBI
  • 1B Yong-yi Kim: 1-1, R, 2 RBI
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 2-5, R, RBI
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 1-4, R, RBI, BB, K
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 0-0
  • 3B Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-1
  • PH Yong-taik Park: 0-1
  • 3B Ho-young Son: 2-2, RBI
  • RHP Tyler Wilson: 6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W (3-2)
  • LHP Hae-soo Jin: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Eun-beom Song: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Woo-young Jung: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2 HBP, S (4)

June 19 (25-14)

Doosan Bears 18, LG Twins 10 (BOX)

Woo-chan Cha had one of his worst games as a professional, giving up eight earned runs while recording just three outs. That set the tone of the game, and while the Twins offense fought valiantly against the Bears, it’s hard to climb out of that bad of a hole when the bullpen is just as bad. The Twins used six separate relievers and only two of them, Sung-hoon Choi and Dae-hyun Kim were able to prevent runs from scoring.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 2-2, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB, HBP
  • LF Chang-gi Hong: 0-1, BB
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 0-2, RBI, BB, K
  • 1B Ho-eun Kim: 0-2, R
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 2-5, R, 2 RBI
  • CF Min-jae Shin: 0-1
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 0-5, 2 K
  • RF Yong-yi Kim: 0-1
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 1-4, 2 K
  • SS Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-1, K
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 1-3, 2 R, RBI, BB, K
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 1-1
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-0, HBP
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 2-4, R, K
  • 3B Ho-young Son: 2-5, R, 2 K
  • LHP Woo-chan Cha: 1.0 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, HBP, L (4-4)
  • LHP Dae-yu Kim: 0.0 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, HBP
  • RHP Dong-hwan Choi: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Woo-chan Lee: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Geon-wook Yeo: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Sung-hoon Choi: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Dae-hyun Kim: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K

June 20 (25-15)

Doosan Bears 8, LG Twins 2 (BOX)

Casey Kelly gave up a few runs, but his time on the mound was otherwise pretty solid. The right-hander had one hiccup, allowing three runs in the second, but otherwise kept the Bears at bay. For as good as he was, Bears starter Jong-gi Park was a lot better, tossing six scoreless innings. The bullpen was just as good, more or less, keeping the Twins off the board until the bottom of the ninth. The Twins bullpen was more or less the same, except they allowed a few more runs in the ninth.

  • CF Chun-woong Lee: 0-4
  • CF Min-jae Shin: 0-0
  • LF Hyun-soo Kim: 1-4, R, K
  • RF Eun-sung Chae: 1-4
  • 1B Roberto Ramos: 2-4, K
  • DH Yong-taik Park: 1-4, R, RBI
  • SS Ji-hwan Oh: 2-4, RBI, K, SB (8)
  • 2B Ju-hyeon Jung: 0-2, K
  • PH Ho-eun Kim: 0-1
  • 3B Bon-hyeok Koo: 0-1, K
  • C Sung-woo Lee: 1-2
  • C Kang-nam Yoo: 0-0, BB
  • 3B Ho-young Song: 0-2
  • PH Chang-gi Hong: 0-0
  • 2B Keun-woo Jeong: 0-1
  • RHP Casey Kelly: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, HR, L (3-2)
  • LHP Hae-soo Jin: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
  • LHP Sung-hoon Choi: 0.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Eun-beom Song:0.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K
  • RHP Gwang-eun Moon: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K

HITTER OF THE WEEK

Ji-hwan Oh

11-23, 2 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K, HBP, 1/1 SB

Born on March 12, 1990 in Gunsan, South Korea, Ji-hwan Oh was a standout athlete at Kyunggi High School in Seoul, considered one of the best shortstops on the South Korean baseball scene and a very good pitcher on top of that. The LG Twins drafted Oh in the first round of the 2009 KBO Draft and the 19-year-old made his professional debut at the end of that season, appearing in 5 games and notching 1 hit in 10 at-bats. He became a full-time starter in 2010 and held his own in his first full season, hitting .241/.332/.423 in 125 games. Despite a propensity to make errors at a high rate, Oh would remain the Twins’ starting shortstop for the next decade, hitting a cumulative .261/.348/.408 through the 2020 season.

In 2018, Oh played on the South Korean National Team in the 2018 Asian Games as a bench player, and his inclusion on the team and the competition’s aftermath caused something of a scandal for multiple reasons. In South Korea, all men age 18 to 30 must serve compulsory military service, with 28 being the latest individuals can defer the service until. After 28, individuals must serve their compulsory service in the South Korean armed forces, with no alternative selections being allowed. The South Korean team won the gold medal for baseball in the competition, technically granting Oh an exemption. Because Oh was 28, he technically should not have been allowed to receive the exemption.

After the 2019 season, he earned and exercised his domestic free agent option. It was leaked that the 29-year-old was looking for a six-year contract and Oh received a lot of pushback in the Korean media for his demands. After claiming that the leak was untrue and that he would be happy to accept whatever the Twins offered, he signed for a four-year, ₩4 billion ($3.4 million), the second-highest contract for a shortstop in the league behind only Doosan’s Jae-ho Kim’s four-year, ₩5 billion ($4.1 million) contract. Oh seemingly celebrated during overseas spring training in Australia and was witnessed going into a casino alongside three other teammates, a major taboo in South Korea given the influence gambling has had on the league in the past.

Oh is a flashy player at short, making webgems with regularity. At the same time, however, he has a propensity for making boneheaded errors. Despite that fact, he is generally regarded as the top defensive shortstop in the league, and advanced metrics bear that out as well. His bat is one of the better ones at the position in the league as well.

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

Chan-gyu Lim

6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 2 HBP

Born on November 20, 1992, Chan-gyu Lim attended Huimun High School and was drafted by the LG Twins in the first round of the 2011 KBO Draft, the second player selected overall. He immediately made his debut and posted a solid rookie season, posting a 4.46 ERA in 82.2 innings, allowing 73 hits, walking 61, and striking out 62. He was involved in a memorable situation on June 8th, when the Twins were playing the Hanwha Eagles at Jamsil Stadium. In the 9th inning, with Lim on the mound, the Eagles attempted a double steal of home, and the lead runner was ruled out. Lim balked on the mound, leading to the lead runner being called out. The Hanwha Eagles appealed the call, but because the umpires were paying attention to the play at the plate and not Lim, the balk went unnoticed. Replays highlighted that the pitcher clearly balked, but because the umpires ruled the game ended, they refused to review the balk. The public shamed the officiants to the point that the league intervened, fining and suspending them. The right-hander appeared as a swingman out of the bullpen until the end of 2013, when he began serving his military service. During his service, he tore his UCL necessitating Tommy John surgery.

Lim returned to the Twins in 2016, pitching mostly as a starter. In 47.0 innings, he showed plenty of rust, posting a 6.51 ERA with 46 hits, 32 walks, and 38 strikeouts. Veteran starter Kyu-min Woo exercised his domestic free agency and left the Twins for the Samsung Lions, shifting Chan-gyu Lim into the rotation in a more prominent role. He posted a 4.63 ERA in 124.1 innings in 2017 and a 5.77 ERA in 146.2 innings in 2018. He broke his toe at the beginning of 2019, causing him to be shifted back into his former swingman role. All in all, in half a season, he posted a 4.97 ERA in 88.2 innings, allowing 84 hits, walking 46, and striking out 72. Back in his role as a starter this season, Lim currently has a 4.69 ERA in 40.1 innings, allowing 45 hits, walking 11, and striking out 42.

The right-hander throws from a low-three-quarters armslot, using a short arm action through the back. His repertoire consists of a fastball, circle changeup, and curveball, with the occasional slider. His fastball averages roughly 87 MPH. Earlier in his career, his fastball sat in the low-to-mid-90s, but age and injuries have taken their toll. When he first returned in 2016, his fastball was clocked occasionally as low as 83 MPH, but it has since settled in the high-80s. His changeup sits in the high-70s and is his primary strikeout pitch. His curveball sits in the high-60s-to-low-70s and features big, loopy break. He rarely uses his slider, but when he does, the pitch sits about 80 MPH and is mainly thrown to interrupt batters timing. While his stuff is generally subpar, Lim goes after and attacks hitters. Because the stuff is hittable, this is sometimes a poor choice, but his teammates generally appreciate his tenacity.

HITTER OF THE WEEK

May 3 to May 9: Hyun-soo Kim (6-17, 1 2B, 0 3B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 0/0 SB)

May 10 to May 16: Roberto Ramos (6-16, 1 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 7 K, 0/0 SB)

May 17 to May 22: Eun-sung Chae (8-25, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K, 0/0 SB)

May 24 to May 30: Roberto Ramos (9-23, 0 2B, 0 3B, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 1 BB, 5 K, 0/0 SB)

May 31 to June 6: Roberto Ramos (6-17, 1 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 BB, 6 K, 0/0 SB)

June 7 to June 13: Hyun-soo Kim (7-22, 0 2B, 0 3B, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/0 SB)

PITCHER OF THE WEEK

May 3 to May 9: Woo-chan Cha (6.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, HR)

May 10 to May 16: Casey Kelly (6.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K)

May 17 to May 22: Tyler Wilson (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, HR)

May 24 to May 30: Casey Kelly (6.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)

May 31 to June 6: Chan-heon Jung (7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)

June 7 to June 13: Min-ho Lee (7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K)