This is sweet — wild defensive shifts are becoming quite common in the Korean Baseball Organization (this season one manager shifted a third baseman to behind the catcher to avoid advancing on a wild pitch, but the umps didn’t allow it) and a lot of it has to do with the presence of foreign players (usually guys who didn’t quite hack it in the Major Leagues). Here’s why:
“There is a reason why defensive shifts have become familiar in the KBO. Because of a rule change last year, each team has to have one foreign player position, and the imports are much more pronounced pull hitters than their Korean teammates.
And analytics have invaded baseball. In 2012, the SK Wyverns moved third baseman Choi Jeong further from the foul line against left-handed batters, following coach Joe Alvarez’s advice. He pointed out that there weren’t many left-handed hitters in the KBO who could send a line drive down the third-base line.”
When I came to South Korea and started following Korean baseball, teams usually tried to carry as many foreign pitchers as possible (three foreigners per team max). Starting pitchers were also preferred.
It makes a lot of sense to diversify the foreigners though, so as to give Korean pitchers more chances to make the sacred jump to the American Major Leagues. And hell, what’s more fun than watching a washed up, overweight foreigner dinging massive home runs in Korea’s relatively small ballparks? (Nothing! Nothing, I say!)
So anyhow, analytics and those damn dirty foreigners have once again spiced up the already cool game of Korean professional baseball.