KBO: Final Week Power Rankings

KBO: Final Week Power Rankings

This article is part of our KBO Power Rankings series.

KBO daily fantasy contests remained down this week, but we'll have one final edition of the Power Rankings here nonetheless. There's less than a week remaining in the regular season, which ends Saturday. All that's left is rescheduled games from the summer's many rainouts, meaning teams have as few as one game left in the case of the Heroes and as many as five remaining in the case of the Dinos and Tigers.

The majority of the teams have nothing to play for this week. The Dinos have locked up the number one seed and the bye straight to the Korean Series that comes with it, while the Tigers, Giants, Lions, Wyverns and Eagles have all been officially eliminated from contention. The remaining four teams have plenty on the line this week, however. Just one game separates the second-place Twins from the fourth-place Heroes, with the fifth-place Bears sitting another game and a half back. As a reminder, third place gets one bye in the KBO playoffs, while second gets two byes, so there's already a playoff intensity surrounding those teams' final games. 

With daily fantasy contests still absent, I've replaced the "DFS Name to Know" with a "Key Question for the Playoffs" for playoff teams this week. The eliminated teams naturally have no such section.

1. NC Dinos

Last Week: 1
Record: 81-53-5
Run Differential: +172

The Lowdown: The Dinos went a mediocre 1-1-1 in their three games this past week, but their tie Saturday against the Twins was enough to clinch the top spot in the standings, sending them to the second Korean Series of the franchise's eight-year history. While they aren't exactly entering the postseason in great form, going 4-9-1 in their last 14 games, any momentum in either direction would likely dissipate as they rest for a few weeks while the rest of the playoff teams beat each other up for the right to face them. That break should make them favorites in the series, as the number one seed has won 16 of the last 18 titles.

Key Question for the Playoffs: What sort of workload will Chang Mo Koo be able to handle? The lefty returned after missing nearly three months due to forearm issues to make a four-out relief appearance against the Twins on Saturday. Whether or not he's ready for a starter's workload by the time the Korean Series rolls around is unclear, but any innings the Dinos can get from a pitcher who owns a 1.53 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP in 88.1 innings this season would be a huge boost to their title chances.

2. LG Twins

Last Week: 2
Record: 79-59-4
Run Differential: +110

The Lowdown: The Twins had a solid week, defeating the Wiz and Tigers before tying the Dinos. Their 7-6 victory over the Wiz could wind up having huge playoff implications, as it's left them with a half-game lead in second place. With their only two remaining games coming against the worst two teams in the league, the Eagles and Wyverns, they have quite a good chance to secure the bye straight to the semifinals, but the Wiz have four games remaining against bottom-five teams, so any slip-up could certainly be punished.

Key Question for the Playoffs: Will Roberto Ramos be healthy? The slugger has been out since early October due to ankle issues. Despite injuries limiting Ramos to just 117 games, he sits second in the league with 38 homers, five more than Jeong Choi in third place.

3. Kiwoom Heroes

Last Week: 3
Record: 80-62-1
Run Differential: +69

The Lowdown: The Heroes played just one game this past week, as their domed home stadium means they had very few games left to make up. They took care of business in that critical contest, defeating the Bears 6-2 to give them a strong chance at the one-win advantage in the 4-versus-5 series that comes with being the fourth seed. They're likely to end up in the fourth spot, unless the Wiz struggle next week, though I've left them in third in these rankings as they've gone a strong 5-1 over their last six contests, all of which have come against the Wiz or the Bears. 

DFS Name to Know: Will Eric Jokisch and Jake Brigham live up to expectations? That pair is perhaps the Heroes' greatest strength and is arguably the best starter duo in the league, but Jokisch has allowed eight runs on 14 hits in just seven innings across his last two starts, while Brigham left his most recent outing after just a single frame.

4. KT Wiz

Last Week: 5
Record: 79-60-1
Run Differential: +88

The Lowdown: The Wiz move back up to fourth in the power rankings this week after a 3-1 showing in which they lost to the Twins but scored a crucial victory over the Bears. If all the contenders win out, it will actually be the Wiz in second place, as they'll have a .580 winning percentage compared to a .579 mark for the Twins. All of the Wiz's and Twins's remaining games will come against eliminated teams, but the Wiz have four chances to screw up and take a devastating loss, while the Twins have just two. If the Wiz do manage to win all four and secure the second seed, it will be the conclusion of a remarkable season from a team that started the year 13-22 but could finish it with a bye straight to the semifinals.

DFS Name to Know: Can Odrisamer Despaigne and William Cuevas hang with opposing teams' top starters? Neither of the Wiz's foreign starters were dominant this season, as their ERAs sit at 4.19 and 4.14, respectively, and neither has been particularly convincing in October. Despaigne has a 5.65 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in five October starts, while Cuevas owns a 6.87 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP this month.

5. Doosan Bears

Last Week: 4
Record: 76-61-4
Run Differential: +109

The Lowdown: I keep thinking the Bears will finally put things together and play like a team that has made it to five straight Korean Series, winning three, but that keeps not happening. They went a mediocre 2-2 in four key games this past week, but they beat the wrong teams, defeating the Giants twice but losing against two fellow contenders in the Wiz and Heroes. With just three games remaining, they sit a game and a half back of the fourth-place Heroes and two games back of the third-place Wiz, so they're very likely to be stuck in the Wild Card Round and will probably start the three-game series down a game as the lower seed. They have the experience and talent to make a run towards their sixth straight Korean Series, but they'll certainly be underdogs to do so given their difficult path.

DFS Name to Know: Which version of Jose Fernandez will show up? The veteran looked like an MVP candidate early on, bursting out of the gates to hit .468 in the month of May, but October has been his worst month of the season, as he's hit a modest .266.

6. Kia Tigers

Last Week: 6
Record: 71-68
Run Differential: -54

The Lowdown: The Tigers went 2-3 this past week, officially confirming that they'll miss the playoffs, something which had seemed likely for a few weeks. Another 2-3 record this week would clinch a winning record, something they've managed just once in the last eight seasons. Whether or not that's enough motivation for them to finish strong isn't clear, and they're unlikely to be as motivated as the Wiz and Bears, who they face a total of three times, as those teams have actually playoff seeding still on the line.

7. Lotte Giants

Last Week: 7
Record: 68-65-1
Run Differential: +31

The Lowdown: The Giants are very much limping to the finish line, going 1-5 the past week, including a pair of losses to the Wyverns. Each of their remaining four games comes against a team with nothing to play for, so they stand a good chance to finish the season with a winning record after winning just 48 games and finishing last in the league in 2019. Their positive run differential, which is 85 runs better than the Tigers, who lead them in the standings by two games, seemingly bodes well for next season.

8. Samsung Lions

Last Week: 8
Record: 63-75-4
Run Differential: -56

The Lowdown: The Lions posted a respectable .500 record last week, just like the two teams below them. They're locked into the eighth spot in the standings, the same spot they occupied last year, though they at least have three more wins than they managed in 2019. While they were competitive at times this year, remaining a contender into at least the early summer, they look like a team that still needs several pieces before making a serious push for the playoffs.

9. SK Wyverns

Last Week: 9
Record: 50-91-1
Run Differential: -212

The Lowdown: The Wyverns mercifully have just two games remaining in a season which has seen them fall to ninth place after tying for the best regular-season record in the league in 2019. Their two wins this past week at least locked them into that spot and guaranteed they won't fall all the way to 10th, but they have nothing left to play for except perhaps playing spoiler against the Twins in their final game of the year. The only Wyverns regulars who will finish with an above-average OPS are 35-year-old Jamie Romak and 33-year-old Jeong Choi, so there's little reason to believe their rebuild will be a brief one.

10. Hanwha Eagles

Last Week: 10
Record: 44-93-3
Run Differential: -257

The Lowdown: The Eagles won one of their two games this past week, somewhat surprisingly knocking the league-leading Dinos around for 11 runs before the Dinos had officially clinched the number one seed. They'll be involved in a handful of important games in the final week, as they play the Bears and Twins once apiece and the Wiz twice, with each game potentially carrying playoff seeding ramifications, though whether or not they're motivated enough to steal a win from a team with much more on the line remains to be seen.

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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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