Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) Betting Guide — 2020
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) starts Monday, May 4, 2020, and will be getting a bit more attention than usual. The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the world hard and forced sports into a shutdown, but Monday marks the return of the KBO league and ESPN has secured a deal to air six games per week. For sports bettors, the league’s start is a step in the direction towards normalcy, as plenty of legal U.S. sportsbooks are offering KBO betting odds.
In this guide, SharpSide will review everything someone new to the KBO needs to know, including an overview of the teams and the notable players, what bettors can expect, and more.
What is the KBO?
KBO stands for Korea Baseball Organization and it’s South Korea’s top baseball league. Founded in 1982, the KOB features 10 teams. Each team plays 144 games in the regular season and then there are playoffs. The team’s play each other 16 times each during the regular season.
What teams are in the KBO?
The KBO consists of 10 teams. Entering the 2020 KBO season, the Doosan Bears, who play in Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, were the betting favorites to win the league, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
|Team||City||Odds To Win Title|
Futures odds from FanDuel Sportsbook as of Monday, May 4, 2020, and subject to change.
The oldest franchises in the KBO are the Doosan Bears, KIA Tigers, LG Twins, Lotta Giants, and Samsung Lions, who all joined the league when it began in 1982. The KT Wiz are the youngest KBO franchise, joining the league in 2015.
Entering the 2020 KBO season, the KIA Tigers are the most successful team in the league with 11 championships. Their most recent KBO title came in 2017, but the majority (nine) of the team’s titles came from 1983 to 1997.
The Doosan Bears were the reigning champs entering the 2020 season and have been the best franchise in recent years. Not only has Doosan won the title in 2019, 2016, and 2015, but they were runners-up in 2018, 2017, and 2013.
The Kiwoom Heroes and NC Dinos have yet to win a KBO title.
How does the KBO compare to the MLB?
Baseball is baseball, right? Not so fast. Although the general concepts and gameplay of the two leagues are the same, there are several key differences.
- Only 10 teams: The KBO has just 10 teams in the league, compared to 30 teams that make up Major League Baseball (MLB). Because there are only 10 teams, every team is group together, there isn’t a need for divisions or separate leagues like you see in the MLB.
- Designated hitter (DH): In the KBO, there is a universal designated hitter (DH) in play, for all teams in all games. This means that the pitcher doesn’t have to hit. In the MLB, the American League allows for a DH and the National League does not.
- Ties happen: in the MLB, all games are played until there is a winner, no matter how long it takes. In the KBO, however, ties can happen. During the regular season, games are declared a tie after the 12th inning. In the postseason, games are declared a tie after the 15th inning. In the postseason, any games resulting in a tie are replayed.
- Postseason format: The KBO has a unique postseason format for its playoffs. We’ll get into the KBO playoff system next.
Bet on the KBO with FanDuel Sportsbook!
How does the KBO playoff format work?
In the KBO playoffs, the top five teams are involved in a rather unique format to determine the league champion. Here’s how the KBO playoffs work.
KBO Wild Card Game
In the KBO Wild Card Game, the fourth-place team in the standings take on the fifth-place team, but with a twist. The fourth-place team starts this round with a 1-0 series lead. All the fourth-place team has to do to advance is secure a win or a tie. The fifth-place team must win two games to advance.
The team that wins the KBO Wild Card Game advances to the KBO Semi-Playoffs to take on the third-place team in a best-of-five series.
After the KBO Semi-Playoffs are complete, the team that wins that series moves on to the KBO Playoffs to take on the team that finished second in the regular season standings. This round is another best-of-five series.
KBO Korean Series
The KBO Korean Series is the league’s championship round, where the team that advances out of the KBO Playoffs plays the first-place team in a best-of-seven series.
Outside of the fourth-place team getting a tie to advance out of the KBO Wild Card Game, all postseason games that end in a tie are replayed. In the postseason, games are declared a tie after 15 innings.
KBO betting tips
Legal U.S. sportsbooks need to post betting lines if they want to start getting back into action, and the KBO is one of the leagues oddsmakers will be looking to offer. Knowing that and the fact that several of these games will be aired on ESPN means there will be plenty of betting on the KBO this season.
- Importance of the regular season: Regular-season seeding matters a lot in the KBO, which means teams will be pushing harder every single game to better their position in the league. Sometimes in the MLB, teams can fall into going through the motions during the regular season, but with the KBO emphasis the regular season more, we should expect teams to take less games, or innings, off and adjust accordingly.
- Beware of ties: If you bet baseball regularly and are interested in betting on the KBO, remember that, unlike the MLB, ties are allowed in the KBO. Ties are not a huge factor like they are in soccer, for example, but they do come into play so you should adjust your handicapping accordingly.
- Playoff format heavily favors top seed: The KBO postseason is set up such that the No. 1 team in the regular season standings advances straight to the KBO Korean Series championship round and waits for a team to advance to play against. This means that not only is the team waiting the best team in the league, generally, but it’s had the most time off to prepare and is less worn down than whoever the opponent may be.
Notable KBO players
Every KBO team is allowed two foreign players, so there will be some players in uniform for people to recognize.
Pitcher Dan Straily is one of those players. Currently on the Lotte Giants, Straily spent time in Major League Baseball goig back to 2012. He played for the Oakland Athletics, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, Miami Marlins, and Baltimore Orioles in the MLB and built a win-loss record of 44-40.
Another pitcher, Adrian Sampson, spent time with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball. He’s now on the Lotte Giants alongside Straily.
Casey Kelly is another KBO pitcher who spent time in the MLB, albeit short and uneventful. He was drafted in the first round of the 2008 MLB Draft by the Boston Red Sox and considered a top prospect. Tommy John surgery hit Kelly after he was acquired by the San Diego Padres and his MLB career only resulted in a 2-11 win-loss record before he moved to the KBO.
Jose Miguel Fernandez and Jamie Romak both had short stints in the MLB before transitioning to the KBO. Miguel Fernandez is an infielder who spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels organizations. Jamie Romak plays outfield and first base and was in the systems of the Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, and San Diego Padres in the MLB. Romak also spent time with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league.
Byung-ho Park had spent time in the KBO before joining the Minnesota Twins in 2016. He couldn’t get much of anything going in the MLB, though, and returned to the KBO in 2018.
Odrisamer Despaigne was a pitcher in the MLB with time spent with the San Diego Padres, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, and Chicago White Sox. Now, he’s a member of the KT Wiz.
After being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, Aaron Altherr spent time additional time with the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. He’s an outfielder who was born in Germany and is now a member of the NC Dinos on a one-year contract.
Tyler Wilson is a pitcher for the LG Twins. He played in the MLB for the Baltimore Orioles and has an MLB win-loss record of 8-10.