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KBO Preview: Can the LG Twins Repeat As KBO Champs?

 Conor Liguori  |    Mar 22nd, 2024 1:58am EDT

LG Twins players throw their manager Youm Kyung-youb into the air after winning the Korean Series Game Five between LG Twins and KT Wiz at Jamsil Stadium on November 13, 2023 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

Opening day for the 2024 Korean Baseball Organization is March 23, and all 10 organizations will play.

Each team plays 144 games, facing the other nine teams 16 times apiece. Unlike Major League Baseball, extra innings can go no longer than 12 innings, and a tie does not affect a team’s winning percentage.

Can the LG Twins repeat as champions for the first time in franchise history?

Will the NC Dinos return to the postseason without the 2023 Choi Dong-won Award winner and KBO Most Valuable Player, Erick Fedde?

Finally, will Hyun-jin Ryu be the ace the Hanwha Eagles are hoping he can be?

These questions and many more will be answered as the KBO season plays out. Here are brief previews of what to expect from each of the 10 KBO organizations in 2024.

Doosan Bears (2023 Record: 74-68-2, Lost to NC Dinos in Wild Card Round)

Notable Additions: Re-sign RHP Raul Alcantara, Re-sign LHP Brandon Waddell, OF Henry Ramos

Notable Losses: 3B Jose Rojas

During the offseason, the Bears lost Jose Rojas, their second-best hitter in 2023, to the New York Yankees. The additions of Alcantara, Waddell, and Henry Ramos should prove valuable, but this team finished the 2023 season with a -5 run differential and struck out 975 times in 144 games. Expect Doosan to be a Wild Card team again or miss the postseason by a few games.

Hanwha Eagles (2023 Record: 58-80-6, Missed Postseason)

Notable Additions: LHP Hyun-jin Ryu, OF Yonathan Perlaza

Notable Losses: OF Brian O’Grady, OF Nick Williams

The Eagles finished the 2023 KBO season with the second-worst record in the league. Still, the addition of starting pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who spent the last 10 years in Major League Baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Toronto Blue Jays, may help. Ryu should help the Eagles win a few more games, but the odds they make the postseason are slim, given their offensive struggles in 2023.

Kia Tigers (2023 Record: 73-69-2, Missed Postseason)

Notable Additions: RHP Wil Crowe, RHP James Naile, Re-sign DH Choi Hyoung-woo

Notable Losses: RHP Shaun Anderson

In 2023, the Tigers missed the postseason, finishing just one game behind the Doosan Bears for the final wild-card spot. The additions of former MLB pitchers Wil Crowe and James Naile could help bolster the rotation and squeeze them into the 2024 postseason. Designated hitter Choi Hyoung- woo is the all-time RBI leader in the KBO, and re-signing him brings a veteran presence back to the organization for this coming season.

Kiwoom Heroes (2023 Record: 58-83-3, Missed Postseason)

Notable Additions: Re-sign RHP Ariel Jurado, Re-sign OF Ronnie Dawson, LHP Emmanuel De Jesus

Notable Losses: SS Addison Russell, LHP Eric Jokisch

The biggest concern for the Heroes is when right-handed starting pitcher An Woo-jin will return from Tommy John Surgery, which he underwent in September 2023. If he can return some time during the regular season and the offense can hit a few more home runs (61 in 2023), then Kiwoom can be competitive. Otherwise, they may experience similar results as last season.

KT Wiz (2023 Record: 79-62-3, Lost to LG Twins in Korean Series)

Notable Additions: Re-sign LHP Wes Benjamin, Re-sign RHP William Cuevas, OF Mel Rojas Jr.

Notable Losses: OF Anthony Alford, RHP Beau Sulser

The Wiz lost to the LG Twins four games to one in the 2023 Korean Series and brought back a familiar face in the offseason, the 2020 KBO home run leader and MVP Mel Rojas Jr. With Rojas Jr. back in the lineup and William Cuevas on the mound, the Wiz have all the makings of a team that could find themselves back in the Korean Series in 2024. The organization did not qualify for the postseason for the first five years of existence from 2015-19.

LG Twins (2023 Record: 86-56-2, Won Korean Series Over KT Wiz)

Notable Additions: Re-sign OF Austin Dean, LHP Dietrich Enns

Notable Losses: RHP Adam Plutko, RHP Yi Jung-yong

The Twins won the 2023 Korean Series over the KT Wiz, the organization’s first title since 1994. The lineup will again rely heavily on the health and production of outfielder Austin Dean, who hit .314 with 23 home runs in 139 games in 2023. The Twins are bringing back the vast majority of the championship club from last season and are primed to win back-to-back titles.

Lotte Giants (2023 Record: 68-76-0, Missed Postseason)

Notable Additions: Re-sign RHP Aaron Wilkerson, OF Victor Reyes

Notable Losses: RHP Dan Straily, SS Niko Goodrum

The Giants had a losing record for the sixth consecutive season in 2023 and maintained the longest championship drought in the league, with their last Korean Series championship coming in 1992. Adding former Detroit Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes is a complimentary piece to the starting lineup. Still, the Giants will need more than Reyes to produce to return to the postseason for the first time since 2017. Lotte seeks to steal a few games from the LG Twins and other top-of-the-standings organizations.

NC Dinos (2023 Record: 75-67-2, Lost to KT Wiz in Third Round Playoff Series)

Notable Additions: LHP Kyle Hart, LHP Daniel Castano, DH Matt Davidson

Notable Losses: RHP Erick Fedde, OF Jason Martin, LHP Tanner Tully

The Dinos made many offseason moves, but the most significant was the Chicago White Sox’s signing of 2023 KBO MVP Erick Fedde to a two-year contract worth $15 million. They finished the 2023 season just one win short of a Korean Series appearance, so the Dinos should be considered contenders in 2024. Power-hitting designated hitter Matt Davidson spent the 2023 NPB season with the Hiroshima Carp, hitting 19 home runs in 112 games.

SSG Landers (2023 Record: 76-65-3, Lost to NC Dinos in Semi-Playoff Round)

Notable Additions: RHP Robert Dugger, Re-sign LHP Roenis Elias, Re-sign Guillermo Heredia

Notable Losses: LHP Kirk McCarty, OF Shin-Soo Choo

Losing longtime MLB outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to retirement may harm the team, but bringing back Elias and Heredia is good for team morale. The Landers finished the 2023 regular season in third place, and that could be exactly where they finish in 2024, behind the KT Wiz and LG Twins. Their 36-year-old second baseman Choi Joo-hwan has hit 115 career home runs and finished with 20 in 2023.

Samsung Lions (2023 Record: 61-82-1, Missed Postseason)

Notable Additions: RHP Denyi Reyes, RHP Connor Seabold, RHP Oh Seung-hwan, 1B David MacKinnon

Notable Losses: UTL Jose Pirela, RHP David Buchanan

Samsung finished the 2023 KBO season in eighth place, and while its free-agent signings are significant, they may not be enough to propel the organization into a playoff spot in 2024. The biggest concern for the Lions in 2023 was the bullpen, whose best relief pitcher was 41-year-old Seunghwan Oh (3.45 ERA, 30 saves). For 2024 and on, Samsung’s future remains bleak.

How to Watch: Fans of the KBO can watch games live with the South Korean streaming services Naver and Afreeca, or through YouTube TV with a paid subscription.