As anyone who watched today’s semifinal matchup between Korea and Venezuela knows, the Korean national baseball team is good. Ridiculously good.  Korea utterly dismantled a Venezuelan team chock-full of major league superstars, putting on a show of power, patience, good pitching and outstanding defense.

koreaMeanwhile Venezuela cracked under the pressure, making 5 errors including an unconscionable dropped fly ball by Bobby Abreu, a sight with which Angel fans will soon be far more familiar than they want to be.

Many people have been talking about how Korea is the surprise of the tournament, but these people obviously have no idea what they are talking about, as Korean baseball has been on the rise for almost a decade now.

Korea first served notice to the world way back in 2000 at the Sydney Olympics, when they stunned a Japanese team loaded with stars to take the bronze medal, handing Japan its first medal-less Olympics ever.  Korea then finished second at the Intercontinental Cup in 2002 and in the Baseball World Cup in 2005, and actually outplayed almost everyone in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, going 6-0 to sweep through the opening rounds only to be knocked out in the semifinals in their only loss of the tournament.  Korea then promptly rebounded in 2008 by sweeping through the Beijing Olympics to take the gold medal.

Korea is definitely my favorite team to watch in the WBC.  What I love about them is that they have the total package.  They put their best players on the field, play outstanding ball in all phases of the game – defense, batting, and pitching, and their players seem to be running their absolute hardest on every single play.  Team Japan plays hard too, but they still do stupid small-ball stuff like an idiotic attempt to bunt Ichiro over with one out late in a game earlier in this tournament while down 1-0.

I won’t guarantee that Korea is going to win Monday night’s championship game. After all, baseball is virtually a .500 game. But I’ve already seen more than enough to say that they are the best baseball team on the planet, outside of perhaps the American League All-Star team.

8 Responses to “Surprised Team Korea is this good? You shouldn’t be.”

  1. I’m not familiar enough with the Korean team to know but how many of their players are in MLB? I find it hard to believe they are the best team on the planet if all of these players are not MLB caliber. Do you really think they would win any division in baseball? I find that highly implausible if their individual players aren’t competing in MLB. They may be very fundamentally sound and a decent baseball team but this tournament is not the collection of the best teams in baseball. The 162 game MLB season determines the best teams in the game not a 2 week exhibition tournament.

  2. Yes but remember, the guy they knocked around was Carlos Silva. So the real question is who had the idiotic idea of giving Silva the ball in an elimination game?

  3. Nick Kapur says:

    Korea has all kinds of rules and obstacles in place to prevent its players from leaving the country. All the Korean players in the Majors got out of the country through some sort of special case, and are not actually the best players from Korea. So it doesn’t follow that if Korean players aren’t in the Majors they aren’t good. Doesn’t follow at all, because it’s not a free market.

    I honestly believe it’s possible that a team of the 25 best Korean players is better than any given single major league team.

  4. FWIW, I just watched the Korean WBC team play an exhibition against the Dodgers (sans Manny) and it was a pretty evenly matched game. Randy Wolf started for the Dodgers and got knocked around, but didn’t end up allowing many runs.

  5. Aren’t these tournaments such a small sample size that the results aren’t comparable to 162 game season? The Netherlands beat the Dominican team, which is loaded with MLB all-stars, twice? Does that mean the Netherlands could compete in MLB? Of course not. I still don’t believe this tournament proves that the Koreans could win a single division in baseball. They may be able to compete in a weak division but it’s far fetched to believe they could win the AL East. The fact that these Koreans can’t play in MLB may be a reason why they are more competitive in these games. Since it’s their only chance to get exposure these games are going to mean more to them than the average players on team U.S.A.

  6. melissa-Yes, very much so.

    Put all these teams in a 150 game schedule and I guarantee USA/Dominican Republic comes out on top.

    Asian baseball is great and all, but all these American sportswriters going batshit insane about anybody beating us are ridiculous. It’s very much Spring Training for them. None of the pitchers in the rotation would make a real team if it was a full season either.

  7. To the point, Japan getting humiliated by Lincecum in Spring Training was what I would expect on a regular basis if they put together a real team.

  8. Or Korea getting shutdown by Hall Of Famer Kevin Correia.

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