DraftKings is going all out to fill our fantasy sports’ing needs as they bring us daily fantasy baseball for opening day of the Korea Baseball Organization. The slate starts at 1 a.m. EST May 5th, Tuesday morning. For those lucky west coasters, you get a 10 p.m. start time a whole day earlier!
There are 10 teams total in the KBO and all are available for this opening day slate. The KBO is a hitter’s league but not a power hitters league after they de-juiced their baseballs. Pitchers average 6.8 strikeouts per nine innings in the KBO while the MLB averages 8.9 while teams averaged just 0.7 home runs per game to the MLB’s 1.4 home runs. That should give us more impetus to rely on wins versus strikeouts when evaluating pitchers while the hitters with power are still good picks, as they are rare.
There will be some coronavirus concerns, as players are forbidden to spit or high five and that could possibly become a problem for availability. Resources for DFS-centric statistics are scarce and there are some discrepancies in English translations of player names from site to site. But, the statistics appear to be the same throughout the Internet, which is a good start.
One game per day will be televised on ESPN, which should help bring in more statistics in different formats for research. A few available now are:
Nick Kingham, SK Wyverns ($9,000)
Kingham was one of the best pitching prospects in baseball when coming out but couldn’t stay healthy or produce in the MLB. He moved on to the KBO last winter and now has five spring training games under his belt. He finished spring with had a 1.96 ERA, 19 strikeouts and just four walks in 23 innings, allowing 15 hits and just one home run. That strikeout rate is great in the KBO and if he can carry it over into the regular season, he’ll be golden.
On this opening day matchup, he gets to face the Hanwha Eagles at home, who led the league in strikeouts last season and were second to last in on base percentage. He’s not cheap, but he is set up well and likely has one of the higher upsides on this slate.
Eui-Ji Yang, NC Dinos ($4,500)
Yang and the Dinos get a nice matchup against lefty Jung Hyun Baek, who gave up the third most home runs in the league last season. I will look to stack the Dinos against Baek on this slate and Yang is a key to that stack, as he is especially good against lefties, with a slugging percentage of .646 against them last season.
Chang Min Mo, NC Dinos ($4,300)
Part of your Baek Stack, Mo is a solid middle of the lineup right-handed hitter for your Baek Stack. He wasn’t a huge contributor last season in any one category, but he was solid across the board and has a strong lineup around him.
Chi-hong Ahn, Lotte Giants ($3,100)
Ahn led the Tigers in batting average last season and now will play for the Giants this year, where the team has been batting him fifth in exhibition games. The Giants are a bad team overall, but Ahn should be one of the better players for them in 2020 and his price can give you some needed relief.
Suk-min Park, NC Dinos ($4,500)
Park is another good player to stack against Baek, as he was great against lefties last season, posting a massive .730 slugging percentage. His 74 RBIs and 65 walks led the team last year and he makes for a great part of a Dinos’ stack.
Ha Seong Kim, Kiwoom Heroes ($3,900)
Kim was a great all around player last season, hitting .307 with 19 home runs for 104 RBIs and 33 stolen bases. His price doesn’t reflect how good he was last season due to a tough matchup against Hyun jong Yang, but this team’s core hitters are the best in the league and they should be able to get something going.
Jeong Choi, SK Wyverns ($5,500)
Choi has been one the most consistent hitters in the league, with the second most home runs last season coming from a short stop. He’ll face Australian Warwick Saupold, who is in his second season with Hanwha after spending time in the MLB and everywhere in between. He pitched the second-most innings, putting up a 3.51 ERA while producing middling stats across the board.
Mel Rojas, KT Wiz ($5,300)
Rojas is a switch hitter who topped a .300 average from both sides of the plate last season and finished fifth in home runs, second in RBIs and fourth in slugging percentage. His ability to hit from both sides of the plate gives us some safety in a league where we don’t feel confident about our early assessments.
Kun-woo Park, Doosan Bears ($4,900)
Park was second on the team with a .397 OBP and second with a .319 average last season on the team that won the championship and are the favorites to win it all again this year. He’s also a right-handed hitter going against a lefty, which should help him get on base on opening day.