Just a few weeks into the new baseball season, Doosan and Lotte are doing the exact opposite of what they did during the exhibition league.
Doosan, which finished at rock bottom during the exhibition league (two wins, nine losses, two draws), is at the top of the regular league with five wins and one loss, while exhibition league champion Lotte (seven wins, three losses, two draws) is trailing behind everyone with just two wins and five losses. It seems mock exam results are no real indicators of actual performance.
The Doosan Tornado
Doosans firepower has completely transformed since the exhibition games. With a combined batting average of .330, it even surpasses Samsung (.313), whose lineup is reputed to be the strongest in history, to rank first among all eight ball clubs.
Over six games, Doosan has whipped up 72 hits for a total of 42 runs. Particularly formidable is the cleanup trio consisting of No. 3 Choi Kyung-hwan (BA over .300), No. 4 Kim Dong-joo (BA over .500), and No. 5 Hong Sung-heun (BA over .400). Jang Won-jin and Ahn Kyung-hyun, hitting in the second and sixth spots respectively, also boast batting averages of over .300. The lineup has a total of three double plays, the lowest in the league. In short, theyre batting as a team. Captain Kim Dong-joo, who returned after announcing his retirement last winter, is leading Doosans offense by slugging an unrivaled BA of .526.
Doosan is even dominating the mound. Its team ERA of 3.74 is second only to Samsungs. The void left by the military draft controversy is nicely filled by new imports Matthew Randel (two wins, ERA 1.59) and Chuck Smith (one win, ERA 4.85). In five of Doosans six games, the starters took charge of the mound for more than five innings. The performance of the teams new closer Jung Jae-hoon (two saves, ERA 0.00) is also well above expectations.
After the exhibition games, Lotte manager Yang Sang-moon declared that his team would play confident, winning baseball, but things have been much the same as last season.
Lotte suffers from insecurity in both hitting and pitching. Its team batting average of .222 and on-base percentage of .285 are the lowest in the league. And its the only team with no triples or home runs so far. Even LG, which has the second fewest home runs, boasts as much as four. The heart of the lineup, far from leading the offense, has fallen excruciatingly silent. No. 4 Lee Dae-ho has just three hits over 23 at-bats (BA .130), while No.3 hitter Ryan Jackson is doing even worse at 2-for-23 (BA .087).
With no definitive bats in the lineup, the team has no firm center to rally around. During the 1-6 defeat to LG on April 8, the leadoff man went on base during the first, second, fifth, and seventh innings, but the effort did not lead to a single run. Lottes 13 runs in seven games are the worst in the league. Even in terms of ERA, it ranks seventh among eight teams with a 5.61, just above LGs 5.82.