KBO DFS: The Argument for Jong-hoo Park
Chang-mo Koo is under $9,500 on DK and under $30 on FD. You just play him. The ownership will be high, but everything under 80% probably isn’t too high. He is the best fantasy pitcher in the KBO, he’s a little cheap, and his matchup is golden. I am not writing this post to sway you from Koo.
This post is about DK, where we have to roster two pitchers. Jong-hoo Park is now a big-time strikeout pitcher and his matchup is great.
Park is a RHP in his eighth KBO season. Coming into this season, as a two-pitch fastball-curveball pitcher, he had a 5.15 RA/9 and a 5.10 FIP with only a 92.6 FIP+ and 6.96 K/9. There was also his—wait for it—4.09 BB/9.
Great argument, Alex, wtf?
Bear with me.
At age 28, he made a big change to his pitch arsenal. And strikeouts are flowing. Up to a whopping 9.00 K/9 with the walk rate down to 3.21 BB/9.
This season, Park added the changeup and sinker to mix. He went from throwing the fastball or curve around 85% of the time in 2019, down to around 65% of the time, mixing in a sinker around 21% of the time and the change around 14%. Not minor changes when a two-pitch pitcher lets the air out of so much usage.
The problem with Park throwing only two pitches as a starter is that one of them isn’t very good. His fastball averages out at only 82 mph. That’s not as terrible as it sounds; remember that the average KBO fastball, including foreigners, is only 88 mph, so Park’s 82 in Korea is maybe similar to junkballing in the high 80s in MLB. Which is fine, but a junkballer needs to junk or he’s just underthrowing slowballs.
The changeup is averaging 76 mph, which is just enough of a contrast to throw hitters off, and boy is it throwing hitters off. Park is throwing it in the zone about half the time. Hitters are swinging around 40% of the time and hitting only .176—showing he’s buckling their knees. The sinker has been hit to the tune of a .391 average, but that could be bad luck, as it’s difficult to lift sinkers.
Park’s luck has shifted with the sinker in recent games:
Game 1, he threw the sinker 22% of the time and they hit .444 on it.
Game 2, he threw it 16.5% of the time. They hit .667.
Game 3, he threw it 25.8% of the time. They hit .600.
Game 4, he threw it 30.5% of the time (against Doosan). They hit .000.
Game 5, he threw it 10.1% of the time. They hit .000.
Saturday morning, Park faces the Samsung Lions. Through Thursday, the Lions rank seventh in runs per game (5.11), HRs (24), and OPS (.717). They also rank fourth with the most Ks (186) in 27 games. That’s 6.89 per game, almost exactly the KBO average of 6.86.
Samsung has one hitter (1!!!) with at least 100 PAs and an OPS over .700 against RHPs—number-eight hitter Min-ho Kang at .729 (honorable mention: San-su Kim at .699). Tyler Saladino is picking up where he left off in Triple-A last year scorching the ball, but we shouldn’t get bogged down in one-on-one matchups. Park is an average pitcher since 2019 at giving up HRs, only allowing 0.78 HR/9 in 172 innings. We can afford a solo or two-run job.
Park isn’t a great pitcher, but he’s really good and just under $7,500. The line we prefer to not across in restoring our SP2 on DK.
— To look up Park on Fangraphs, his name there is “Jong-hun Park”. On Statiz, where I got the pitch selection data, it is 박종훈.
— It’s a good day to stack against an American or two (or three). We can stack Doosan against pitch counter go brrr Drew Gagnon, KT against launching pad Dan Straily, or Kia versus another historic gas can in Chris Flexen. These are all great plays in that their ownership will be lower than were they facing Koreans because that’s just how ownership is rolling. It isn’t crazy as the Americans bring the results, but we’ve seen these guys get blown up in Triple-A ball far too much to neglect stacking on them.