The Triple T: Tim’s Top Three
Hey everyone, with the lack of major professional sports due to coronavirus, it doesn’t leave a lot for us to play.
::KBO Baseball has entered the chat::
Yes, that’s right…Korean professional baseball has arrived on the scene and we will have to make do with it until our beloved MLB returns. DISCLAIMER: I am the farthest thing from a KBO expert and I am not going to pretend to be one, but I love baseball and analyzing statistics and just plain writing and putting something out for you guys so I figured I would try to throw something informal together for you so that we can have fun with this together! This article will absolutely NOT be as in-depth as my usual Triple T due to the lack of advanced metrics available, but will hopefully help to steer you in the right direction. For those unfamiliar with my article, I will be listing my three favorite MLB players at each position – I tried to list a guy in each pricing tier if possible as it does no one any good to list all of the most expensive, popular plays at each spot. Please note that these are NOT the only plays I like, but I can’t list everyone and truly try to narrow down the KBO field as much as possible.
Use these KBO plays along with your own research! Remember, this is a GPP-style article so I take some more chances than others. The format for this article is not set in stone so if there is something you want to see or would like me to consider changing, please let me know. After all, this site is for YOU. Let’s dive in!
Is MLB here yet?!
* Please make sure these guys are in the lineup! KBO lineups don’t get released until about 30-60 minutes before lock, so make sure you set your alarm to double-check lineups and weather!
***I am going to do it a little differently today – I am going to list my top three pitchers, my top three stacks, and my top three one-off players. I am not going to go position-by-position today as I am trying something different. Let me know what you think!
Top Three Pitchers
Notes: Tomorrow’s KBO slate is a little different than recent ones we have seen in that tomorrow, we get quite a lot of decent arms on the mound. Flexen is a heavy favorite and gets the lowly SK Wyverns who come into this one with third most strikouts in the league and the lowest slugging percentage. That number is bound to increase with Choi and Romak in the lineup, but I don’t think it’ll be today as Flexen has looked really impressive thus far. I do like Koo at the top as he has been the best pitcher in the league to this point, but I think we can get similar production from Flexen for $900 cheaper in a little bit better of a matchup. Flexen has the second best WHIP on the slate at 1.05 and robust strikeout rate at 9.9 per 9 innings so I think we can feel pretty confident rolling him against the league’s worst offense. He has been slightly worse to righties which is scary against Romak and Choi, but those are really SK’s only two threats. Wilson had an absolutely disastrous start to his campaign against NC but he has since settled things down, only allowing 8 hits over his last 13 innings while only walking three batters in that stretch. He feels volatile, but if you eliminate that first start, his numbers have been really good and he gets one of the league’s worst offenses tomorrow in Hanwha. Hanwha sports the league’s thirs lowest average and second lowest slugging percentage and Wilson’s slate-highest groundball to flyball ratio of 2.14 makes me feel real good about him keeping the ball in the park. His LOB rate of 52% shows that he could even seen some positive regression from his current numbers. He checks in at a nice salary and I do expect him to be somewhat popular given the nice matchup. In that same range is Dan Straily. Now, Straily could be classified as a boom-or-bust guy tonight as he has been extremely volatile to this point in the KBO, but I am listing him solely because of the matchup with the Samsung Lions. Straily has been hit by lefties to the tune of a .316 average while allowing both his homeruns to them but against righties, he is allowing a miniscule .159 number. This sets up nice against Samsung who has really no viable lefties outside of Koo. Wilson may definitely be a little safer for just a few hundred more, but I do like Straily as well against a weak-hitting lineup of mostly righties. He is definitely walking a very fine line of volatility with that 4.09 walk rate, but lets hope that the 10.2 K rate can make up for that. There are safer options tonight for sure, but Straily does offer some upside at low ownership. Gagnon is sitting at the bottom of the pile presumably due to a tough implied matchup with KT but is there reason for optimism with him? Well, for one…his metrics are incredible. He has a tiny 2.69 FIP, a whopping strikeout rate of 12 per 9 innings, a great WHIP of 1.18 and induces a decent amount of groundballs. The caviat to that is that he has faced two of the three worst offensive teams in Samsung and Hanwha which may be helping out those metrics a little. Tonight will be his first real test of the season against a KT team that doesn’t strikeout a ton and leads the league in slugging percentage. One thing that Gagnon has going for him is that he has been extremely tough on righties, allowing them only a .158 batting average while allowing lefties a bloated .348 number while KT sports only four lefties in their projected lineup and only two that have hit righties well so far (Rojas and Jo). The risk-reward is here if you are inclined to pay all the way down. I don’t think it is entirely necessary, but I would understand the play. Again, Koo isn’t listed because I think Flexen gets you similar for less but if you like safety and have the salary, I like the play.
Top KBO Team Stacks (both sites, no order)
– I am going to list my preferred player stack, but these aren’t the only guys I would use as there may be some others that offer us salary relief.
Doosan (Fernandez/Hwan Kim/Won Oh/ho Kim/Woo Park) – Doosan should be the most popular stack of the night which is no surprise as they are the best offense in the league. There are a slew of good pitchers going tonight except for who Doosan gets, Jong Hoon Park. Park is allowing 1.2 HR/9 and while the 10.2 K’s per 9 is great, the 1.73 WHIP offsets that. A lot of that has to do with an exorbitant .429 BABIP, but that doesn’t figure to get much better against these Doosan bats. Since Doosan will be very popular, one of the things I like to do is figure out how we can differentiate within the stack. I was kind of relieved when Hanwha announced Bell as their starter because it meant I could get off Ramos at first and play Fernandez there which would open up some second base value for me. I figure most will do the same and will go Choi at second base as he has been on a tear and is dirt cheap. However, if we look closer at his numbers so far this season, we see that he is hitting a paltry .206 against righties. Right below Choi is Jae Won Oh who may get overlooked due to DK listing his avg points per game 2 less than Choi, but Oh could be the better play of the two. Like Choi, Oh has been on a tear recently, collecting multi-hit games in two of his last four but unlike Choi, Oh is hitting righties very well to start the year at .375 with all three of his homers coming against Northpaws. Oh is minimum price so they may not even scroll by Choi at $2300 to get to Oh.
NC Dinos (Yang/Min Woo Park/Sung Bum Na/Altherr) – This is another one that should be popular tonight as the Dinos have been right there with Doosan at the top of the offensive pyramid in the 2020 KBO. NC gets gas can southpaw Seung Ho Lee and his 5.07 ERA. Lee has allowed a homerun rate of 1.27 per 9 innings, the highest on the slate, with a walk rate over 3 per 9 innings and a WHIP of 1.48. His groundball-to-flyball ratio of 1.00 will not do him any favors against this Dinos team that loves to smash the ball. Like Doosan, we need to figure out where we are going to get creative within the stack to hopefully gain some sort of edge on the chalk. In looking at NC’s splits, Min Woo Park, Yang, and Sung Bum Na seem to hit lefties the best, all sporting an average over .300 to them. Jin No and Suk Min Park are usually popular pieces to this stack, but they are hitting .000 and .222 respectively to southpaws so I would prioritize them the least. No and no-no for me with that zero average (13 AB sample) while Park I would include, but wouldn’t be happy about it. I still favor other third basemen over him, but if you have the salary and he is there, I won’t fight it. One of the most polarizing figures in the KBO this season, Aaron Altherr could be the forgotten man as others look to spend up on more consistent guys. If there is matchup for Altherr to get going, it is this one as he sports a .308 average to lefties while being basically useless to righties. If he can grind out a homer before Lee leaves the game, it will pay off his tag and possibly help our NC stacks get ahead of ones that faded him due to recency bias.
Lotte (Son/Jeon/Machado/Dong Han/Dae Lee) – So after those first two stacks, the next one is really tough to peg. The pitching on this slate is very deep so deciding where to go with different stacks after NC and Doosan will be tricky. We can go Samsung against Straily who allows a high flyball and homerun rate, we can go KT against Gagnon and hope that a good offense overcomes a good pitcher, but I am choosing to take a flier on Lotte. Lotte is a good offense but the odds are not in their favor tonight as Chae-Heung Choi is a reverse splits pitcher and Lotte is loaded up with righties. Choi has a stellar 2.65 ERA so people may avoid Lotte but there may be signs that Choi is destined to regress a little. First and foremost, we saw him as a starter last season and he did not pitch anywhere near a 2.65 ERA as he sported a 4.83 number to go with a 1.53 WHIP. He may have a 2.65 ERA on the surface this season, but his FIP of 4.34 may be more indicative of who he is as a pitcher and aligns a little more with his larger sample size from last year. As well, the guy has a walk rate of a whopping 4.24 per 9 innings which is absolutely atrocious and it is a miracle that his WHIP is 1.12 with that walk number so high. His BABIP of .222 is minuscule and coupled with an above average LOB rate of 80%, regression could be in his future and hopefully Lotte takes advantage of that tonight. It also helps that when Choi leaves, he gives way to an awful bullpen to which the Giants may be able to take advantage of. Choi also has a 1.12 groundball to flyball ratio and we all know how I love to target flyball pitchers – can’t hit homers if the opposing pitcher doesn’t allow flyballs! This stack is a risk but then again, any stack after NC and Doo is but I will put my faith in the metrics I have to work with on this one.
Top Three One-off Plays
– Rojas (KT) – I mentioned Drew Gagnon above as a boom or bust – he is very good to righties, holding them to a low .158 average, but he gives it up to lefties to the tune of a .348 average. Rojas is hitting a robust .422 with 2 homers against righties this season. I am not a huge fan of KT tonight but I do like Rojas.
– Tucker (Kia) – Je Song Bae is a good pitcher and not one I look to attack but he is allowing a .344 average to lefties. He doesn’t strike guys out (4.93 K/9) and Tucker is hitting righties at a .300 clip while adding two homers against them. I think Bae has a decent game, but Tucker could do some damage.
– Koo (Sam) – I mentioned Straily as a possible pitcher play against the weak-hitting Lions because of his ability to hold down righties this year and Samsung should be rolling out a bunch. One of the lefties they are rolling out is Koo who happens to be one of the hottest hitters in the league right now and is stroking a whopping .429 to righties. Straily’s groundball rate of .82 could get him in trouble against the right guy and Koo just happens to be that guy.
As always, remember to make sure these players are indeed in the lineup, that weather is okay, and keep an eye on vegas odds. Don’t forget that baseball is by far the highest variance sport but by truly digging in to the numbers and turning over every stone, we can mitigate that variance. Please follow Top Flight Fantasy Sports on Twitter and Facebook if you haven’t already and good luck!
*Images courtesy of KoreaTimes and NewsPress