KBO Daily Fantasy Baseball Helper: Tuesday 5/5/20
Maybe this isn't quite the Opening Day everyone had in mind, but yes, we finally have real live baseball back in the form of South Korea's KBO League.
And this also means daily fantasy baseball is back with real cash prizes on FanDuel! First pitch is at 1:00am ET on Tuesday morning, so you have plenty of time to get caught up before lineups lock overnight.
Scoring is identical to what we normally see in MLB DFS, but FanDuel is condensing the number of starting spots to seven. You start one pitcher as usual, and then only need to roster two infielders, two outfielders, and two utility players to fill out the rest. Your total team salary is also $100 instead of $35,000.
There's going to be a bit of a learning curve as we try to tackle a sport that gets little fanfare on this side of the globe, but the same basic principles of analyzing pitching matchups and stacking offenses will still apply. Some websites that can help you get started include Baseball Reference, MyKBO Stats, and the Korean website Statiz. The latter site is a bit tricky to use, but with the help of Google Translate, you can uncover some advanced stats.
We won't have KBO stats for all foreign players making the jump to this league, but keep in mind that foreign players generally perform well overall. Even if a player flamed out in the Majors, they could excel in this new environment (many will remember Eric Thames was an absolute beast in Korea). On average, foreign pitchers performed nearly 22% above league average last season, and hitters performed just under 16% better, per MyKBO Stats.
All 10 KBO teams are in action for tonight's five-game slate and below is an overview the starting pitchers sorted by salary, along with their 2019 KBO stats. Opponents are also listed with their average runs scored per game last year.
Note that on FanDuel these hurlers are listed by their team names (ex: "SK Starting P"), so their team abbreviations are also listed below. Some familiar MLB names in Nick Kingham, Dan Straily, and Odrisamer Despaigne will all be making their KBO debuts.
|Nick Kingham (SK)||$29||HAN||4.22||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Raul Alcantara (DOO)||$27||LG||4.45||27||18||3.98||4.01||1.25||5.2||1.4|
|Dan Straily (LOT)||$26||KT||4.51||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Drew Rucinski (NC)||$25||SAM||4.32||30||17||3.96||3.05||1.18||6.0||2.3|
|Jake Brigham (KIW)||$25||KIA||4.20||28||15||3.27||2.96||1.23||7.4||2.6|
|Baek Jung-hyun (SAM)||$23||NC||4.68||27||12||4.95||4.24||1.36||4.7||3.2|
|Yang Hyun-jong (KIA)||$22||KIW||5.42||29||22||2.63||2.29||1.07||7.9||1.6|
|Cha Woo-chan (LG)||$22||DOO||5.11||28||13||4.31||4.12||1.43||6.6||3.2|
|Odrisamer Despaigne (KT)||$20||LOT||4.01||--||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|Warwick Saupold (HAN)||$15||SK||4.55||31||20||3.49||3.51||1.27||6.3||2.5|
Let's check out which hurlers and stacks stand out on tonight's slate.
The first thing you'll notice is these strikeout numbers are lower than what we see in MLB. The league average strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) in KBO last year was 6.8 compared to 8.9 in the Majors. While paying up at starting pitching is a typically a tried and true strategy in MLB DFS, it will be interesting to see how that plays out in this format.
Former Pirates pitcher and top prospect Nick Kingham (SK Starting P; $29) figures to be popular simply as the "guy people have actually heard of," but he earned the Opening Day nod with a strong spring training, posting a 1.96 ERA with 19 strikeouts and 4 walks over 23 innings. Kingham was brutal in his most recent MLB season, but at just 28 years old, it's possible he can resurrect his career in Korea.
He and the SK Wyverns are -158 favorites on FanDuel Sportsbook against the Hanwha Eagles, who look to be a good matchup. In 2019, the Eagles posted the third-fewest runs and second-worst OPS, and they led the league in strikeouts.
Of the pitchers we do have some KBO data for, Jake Brigham (KIW Starting P; $25) looks like a solid start against the Kia Tigers. Brigham owns the second-best FIP and strikeout rate on the board and faces a Tigers team that ranked eighth (out of 10) in runs scored and seventh in OPS. However, the Tigers did have the third-lowest strikeout rate, possibly limiting upside.
For a more boom-or-bust option, Yang Hyun-jong (Kia Starting P; $22) jumps out for his slate-best 7.9 K/9 and 2.63 FIP but draws a matchup against the Kiwoon Heroes, who led the league in runs last year. Still, the price is hard to beat, making him potentially worth the plunge in tournaments.
Lastly, Odrisamer Despaigne (KT Starting P; $20) is another potential value despite a modest career 5.6 K/9 as a big leaguer. He's up against the Lotte Giants, who scored the fewest runs in 2019 and struck out the second-most. Even a small boost in Ks would put him in the range of most starters tonight.
We may have to stay up late to get lineups, which are officially due an hour before first pitch. While that could be a little tricky before we get acclimated with these teams' normal batting orders, we can still figure out which spots to stack ahead of time. Like you would on an MLB DFS slate, keep an eye out for cheaper bats hitting high in the order.
According to FanDuel Sportsbook, the Doosan Bears are the favorite to win the championship again, which should come as no surprise considering the Bears have won three of the past five championships. They scored the second-most runs last year, so they seem like a pretty logical place to look first.
They're facing left-hander Cha Woo-chan of the LG Twins, who owns the slate's second-worst FIP and worst WHIP. Note that while Jose Miguel Fernandez ($16) and Jae-il Oh ($15) were two of the Bears' top hitters in 2019, they won't have the platoon advantage as lefty hitters, which could make this stack riskier at these price tags. Another lefty stick, Jae-Hwan Kim ($14), is coming off a down year by his standards, but he slugged 44 bombs the year prior as the league's MVP. Kun-Woo Park ($14) is a power-speed threat with double-digit home runs and stolen bases last season, and he was third on the team in OPS behind Fernandez and Oh.
Meanwhile, the NC Dinos arguably have the slate's top spot against the Samsung Lions' Baek Jung-Hyun. Not only does the southpaw have the worst FIP and K/9 by a fairly wide margin, but the Lions' home ball park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league, per Statiz. Former Phillies outfielder Aaron Altherr ($13) is a name you should recognize, and considering the success he saw at times in the bigs -- most notably in 2017 when he posted a .359 wOBA and .245 ISO -- he could be poised for a strong KBO campaign. Eui-Ji Yang ($12) smacked 20 homers and posted a 1.012 OPS in 2019. Suk-Min Park ($11) slugged 19 dingers last season.
Of the foreign starting pitchers, Dan Straily is probably the only one you should considering stacking against -- he was that bad last season. Straily owned a wretched 6.07 SIERA across 47.2 innings with the Baltimore Orioles and was absolutely pummeled for home runs, allowing 4.15 per nine innings. Considering Odrisamer Despaigne, not exactly an MLB superstar, is favored over him, that's sure saying something. The KT Wiz's notable bats include Mel Rojas Jr ($16), Jae-Gyun Hwang ($12), and rising star Baek-Ho Kang ($12).