Lotte manager Yang Seung-ho (left) high-fives slugger Hong Sung-heon. (Yonhap News)
The Lotte Giants dominated the diamond right out of spring training and have held the top place on the field throughout the month.
Their performance has definitely taken fans by surprise after a slow start last season.
Adding to that, gone are star players such as slugger Lee Dae-ho, who went overseas to the Nippon Professional Baseball league after signing with the Orix Buffaloes, and pitcher Chris Bootcheck, who returned to the U.S. after a year with the team.
The Busan-based club has held a steady reign over the rest except for a brief slip into second place in the second week.
Lotte pitcher Ryan Sadowski (Yonhap News)
Last year’s champions, the Samsung Lions, had an abysmal start, staying just above last place. However, as this season’s favorite, the Lions will not go down easy after signing five-time MVP Lee Seung-yeop, who returned from Japan after eight seasons.
The SK Wyverns had a healthy and promising start, but after the second week fell to third place.
The Doosan Bears have fans excited by sitting comfortably in second, just one game behind Lotte as of Wednesday afternoon.
Usually slow to start the season, the Busan team has held the top seat thanks to it pitchers ― American Shane Youman and Lee Yong-hun. Left-handed pitcher Youman is at the top of the charts with the most wins, and is third in strikeouts and fourth in ERA.
The offense is holding its own as well, with Hong Sung-heon leading the Giants’ sluggers with the sixth-best OPS at 1.058.
Infielders Cho Sung-hwan and Park Jong-yoon also are in the top 10 for OPS a month into the season, making up for the loss of veteran slugger Lee Dae-ho.
By Robert Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org