Going into this season, the pundits who predicted baseball were calling for an “epic” upset. Many teams of equal strength were expected to battle it out in the middle of the pack. That’s why foreign farming was more important than ever.
With a month to go before the All-Star break, this prediction was largely correct. Teams with more than their fair share of foreign players were 안전놀이터 at the top of the leaderboards. The SSG Landers and LG Twins are two examples of teams that have been up and down, but haven’t let go of the lead. They are also at the top of the leaderboard when we line up the performance of foreign players according to Wins Above Replacement (WAR) provided by Statistiz.
The team with the biggest smile on its face thanks to foreigners was LG. The two-hitting duo of Adam Plutko (pictured) and Austin Dean dominated, with a combined WAR of 5.24 through 14 days. That more than offset the struggles of ace Casey Kelly (-0.19). Plutko in particular has been huge. He roared out of the gate with a 3.10 ERA, which was good enough for first place among all pitchers. Manager Yoon Kyung-yeop didn’t pick him to start the All-Star game for nothing.
SSG was the most evenly matched team of the bunch. Guillermo Heredia, the #1 batting average and #2 RBI, led the way, while Roenis Elias, who replaced Enrique Romero, impressed fans in just four appearances. Even Kirk McCarty has been steady, making them the only team in the 10-team field to have all three pitchers post a WAR of 1 or more.
The NC Dinos and Doosan Bears followed suit. They were dominated by their top two ace pitchers, Eric Peddy (2.97) and Raul Alcantara (2.67). Coincidentally, the two teams also had similar fates, with presumed second-stringers Taylor Widener (-0.29) and Dylan Pyle (-0.32) struggling to start the season due to injury.
The worst offense was the KT Wiz. Their three outfielders combined for just 1.1 WAR. Anthony Alford fought a lonely battle as Bo Schuler and Wes Benjamin struggled together.
However, there is still a long way to go before the full harvest. Depending on the performance of the substitutes, the situation could change at any moment. The Hanwha Eagles are a case in point. They had the misfortune of losing both Butch Smith and Brian O’Grady, but their replacement, Ricardo Sanchez, has exceeded expectations and kept the spark of hope alive. Other variables abound. The Lotte Giants set the league on fire with a scary run early in the season, even without their mercenary play.