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Monday, July 17, 2017

NPB should do more to spice up All-Star experience

If NPB officials need any ideas, there’s already a blueprint in South Korea, where the Korea Baseball Organization has done something similar for several years.

This year, in addition to one home run derby held across two days, the KBO held a Perfect Pitcher competition, a timed event where hurlers tried to knock down bats, and a Perfect Hitter event, where batters aimed for targets while hitting off a tee. The league also held its minor league All-Star Game as part of the All-Star weekend.

“The KBO has been having these All-Star events for quite awhile now,” Dan Kurtz, who runs mykbo.net, told The Japan Times. “I believe that a majority of the fans that watch KBO enjoy these events and consider them ‘Fan Service’.

“I think the events such as Perfect Hitter/Pitcher complement the Home Run Race quite nicely. I also think that the players themselves enjoy these events, since it often allows some players who don’t often get a chance to bat/pitch to participate in these events. For example, this year’s Perfect Hitter winner was a pitcher.

“In the past, pitchers have also participated in the Home Run Race and non-pitchers in the pitching events. The one event that was not held this year that seemed to have caught the eye of fans outside of Korea was the Bunt King (who can place Bunts on certain targets for points).”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 17, 2017 at 09:39 AM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: all-star game, japanese baseball, korean baseball

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How is free swinger Eric Thames crushing his second act?

The problem? He swung at everything. And it almost cost him everything. But he’s back and emerging as the biggest surprise of the 2017 season. How did he climb back for this second act that most players never get?

“Plate discipline,” Thames said, simply. “I learned in Korea that they won’t challenge you as much as they do in the minor leagues and [majors]. And maintaining the strike zone and swinging at strikes, that’s like the ultimate goal for everybody.”

Thames signed with the NC Dinos of the South Korean League, then spent the next three seasons putting up Ruthian numbers on the other side of the globe. All told, he hit .349/.451/.721 with 124 homers, 382 RBIs and 64 steals in Korea, but Thames wasn’t just dominating lesser competition; he was working on his game, making it more pliable for a return to the States. Part of it was metrics. Or at least one metric: Thames started to track the number of pitches he chased out of the zone, and mixed that with a little self-motivating tool.

“Starting in Korea, every time I chase, I put a dollar in the pot and I donate it at the end of the year,” Thames said. “It’s a challenge. I was a guy that swung at everything, so many balls out of the zone early on in my career. It’s a big thing. That’s why I couldn’t handle it in Seattle. It’s why I got sent down.”

He’s been really impressive to watch so far.  I also like how this article is framed around comparing this approach with Tim Anderson.


 

 

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