KBO: Week 22 Power Rankings

KBO: Week 22 Power Rankings

This article is part of our KBO Power Rankings series.

There's no movement in the rankings this week, as nine of the 10 teams won between two and four games. If I explicitly broke these rankings up into tiers, however, there would be a change. The Dinos, who have spent weeks looking like merely one of several teams in a relatively even top tier, won all six of their contests to give them 11 wins in their last 12. Before that run started, they'd been caught by the Heroes atop the standings, but their sudden hot streak means they're now five games ahead, and it's hard to envision them relinquishing the top spot barring an epic collapse. There's still time for that to happen, especially as we've switched back to three-game series for the final three weeks of regularly scheduled games, offering teams the chance to make bigger moves relative to each other if they can manage to sweep a close competitor. Those three weeks will be followed by a set of make-up games for the summer's many rainouts, which have yet to be scheduled.

1. NC Dinos

Last Week: 1
Record: 71-42-3
Run Differential: +163

The Lowdown: For much of the season, it looked like the Dinos were going to cruise into the playoffs on the back of their early-season success despite looking rather mediocre for an extended period. They sprinted out of the gate to a 24-6 record over their first 30 games but went a modest 36-35-3 over their next 74, looking like a fringe playoff team at best. Suddenly, they're back in vintage form, going 11-1 in their last 12, winning by an average score of 6.6-3.3 over that stretch in a particularly encouraging run of games from their pitching staff.

DFS Name to Know: Min Woo Park has dropped from leadoff to the number three spot over the Dinos' last 13 games and has thrived in the role, hitting .435 with 14 RBI and three steals over that stretch.

2. KT Wiz

Last Week: 2
Record: 66-50-1
Run Differential: +73

The Lowdown: It wasn't a particularly good week for the Wiz, who split two-game sets with the Giants, Tigers and Twins, but no team behind them made the moves necessary to dislodge them from this spot. It's still been quite a strong September for the Wiz, as they've gone 17-7 over the course of the month and now look quite likely to clinch their first playoff berth in the team's six-year history, as they sit 4.5 games up on the sixth-place Tigers.

DFS Name to Know: Rookie Hyeong Jun So's remarkable run continues. H e struggled to a 6.65 ERA and 1.59 WHIP through the end of June but hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his 11 starts since, posting a 2.47 ERA and 1.27 WHIP over that stretch.

3. Kiwoom Heroes

Last Week: 3
Record: 71-52-1
Run Differential: +77

The Lowdown: The Heroes had a mixed week, beating the Tigers twice before splitting two games with the lowly Wyverns and losing two of three to the Bears. After going 17-9 in August, they've gone just 12-12-1 thus far in September, as they just haven't been able to get everyone hot at the same time and make a push for the regular season title and the automatic spot in the Korean Series that it offers. 

DFS Name to Know: Hyun Hee Han hasn't allowed a run in any of his last three starts, giving up just 10 hits in 18.1 innings over that stretch while striking out 18 and walking five.

4. LG Twins

Last Week: 4
Record: 65-51-3
Run Differential: +97

The Lowdown: Like most of the teams around them, Twins had a mediocre week, beating the Wyverns twice and splitting two games with the Wiz but losing twice against the Dinos. They've suddenly gone cold after their nine-game undefeated streak in late August and early September, going just 7-11 since that run ended. They're second in the league in run differential, which should in theory make them the Dinos' top competition, but instead they're just 3.5 games above the sixth-place Tigers and could see their playoff spot threatened if their slump continues.

DFS Name to Know: Roberto Ramos may have ended the week with a pair of hitless games, but that followed a five-game stretch in which he homered five times, sending him to the top of the homer run leaderboard with 38 on the season.

5. Doosan Bears

Last Week: 5
Record: 62-53-4
Run Differential: +69

The Lowdown: The Bears, like most of the teams around them, had an uninspiring week, going 3-4 while losing two games to the Eagles and winning two against the Heroes. In an encouraging sign for the defending champions, the Bears' pitching staff now ranks fifth in runs allowed per game after spending much of the year down in eighth, as they've given up just 3.4 runs per game over their last 20 contests. On the flip side, however, their offense has suddenly gone cold, scoring just 3.6 runs per game over their last 17. If they can combine their early-season offense with their recent pitching, they'll be a real threat.

DFS Name to Know: Chris Flexen has made four starts since returning from a broken foot, striking out 31 batters in 21 innings while posting a 3.86 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP.

6. Kia Tigers

Last Week: 6
Record: 61-54
Run Differential: -12

The Lowdown: The Tigers failed to capitalize on the unimpressive performances of the teams above them, winning just two of six games, and things could have been even worse, as they were outscored by an average score of 7 to 2.3. They have a tough week coming up against the Heroes and Bears, though neither of those teams has played well of late, either. That Bears series will be huge, as the Tigers trail them for the fifth and final playoff spot by just a single game.

DFS Name to Know: Hyun Jong Yang hasn't allowed more than three runs in any of his last nine starts, a stretch in which he owns a 2.18 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP.

7. Lotte Giants

Last Week: 7
Record: 58-57-1
Run Differential: +15

The Lowdown: The Giants actually outscored their opponents by 11 runs over the past week but won just two of six games. The four-game gap between them and the fifth-place Bears isn't an insurmountable margin with 28 games left on the schedule, but the Giants haven't looked capable of making a run lately. The Bears' recent struggles should have been their time to make a move, but they've stumbled to an 11-14 record in the month of September.

DFS Name to Know: Dan Straily appears to be firmly past a poor stretch that saw him allow five or more runs in three out of five starts, as he owns a 0.95 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP while striking out 19 batters in 19 innings over his last three trips to the mound.

8. Samsung Lions

Last Week: 8
Record: 52-64-1
Run Differential: -51

The Lowdown: The Lions peaked at five games over .500 back on July 7, recording a 30-25 record up to that point. Since then, they've barely put up a fight, going 22-39-2. They've been even worse than that lately, winning just three of their last 11 games. While it would take an epic collapse for them to finish lower than eighth in the standings, as they're 13.5 games up on the ninth-place Wyverns, their hold on that spot in these power rankings isn't particularly firm at this point.

DFS Name to Know: Ben Lively has been dominant in three of his last four outings, posting a 2.08 ERA and 0.77 WHIP over that stretch, even with a rather poor start mixed in.

9. Hanwha Eagles

Last Week: 9
Record: 36-80-2
Run Differential: -237

The Lowdown: If these rankings were based purely on performance over the past week, the Eagles would have a case to be second, as their 4-2 record trailed only the Dinos over the past seven days. That represents their first week with a winning record all season, and it's made all the more impressive by the fact that their wins came against the defending champion Bears and the fairly competitive Giants. They now own a 7-5 record over their last 12 games, none of which have come against bottom-three teams, making them suddenly a legitimate thorn in the side of contending teams.

DFS Name to Know: Brandon Barnes homered in three straight games last week, including a grand slam to help upset the Bears. H e'll need to stay hot to finish with respectable numbers as he's hitting just .219/.316/.371 on the year.

10. SK Wyverns

Last Week: 10
Record: 40-79-1
Run Differential: -194

The Lowdown: The Wyverns did finally beat a playoff team for the first time since mid-July, defeating the Heroes in an extra-innings win on Friday, but they still have just two wins in their last 10 games. They're now just 2.5 games up on the Eagles in the battle for ninth place, and there's reason to fear that they'll finish the season in last given the Eagles decent recent form.

DFS Name to Know: Ricardo Pinto has been pretty bad for nearly the entirety of the season, but he allowed just two runs in his last three starts and struck out 17 batters over 13 innings in his last two.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Erik Halterman
Erik Halterman is an MLB staff writer at RotoWire. He also covers KBO, NPB and CPBL daily fantasy contests.
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