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In Search of… ACE POWER! What about Byung Ho Park?

March 20, 2016

8624.jpg     The man himself.

Foreign league stats here:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.cgi?id=park–000byu

Judge for yourself but for most people the discussion stops and starts with the four year HR progression in the KBO: 31, 37, 52, 53… with OPS > 1100 in each of the last two years. WOW, right?

Problem is, that’s Korea. The quality of baseball over there is somewhere between High-A and AA. And the parks are really small, not to mention the strike zones. Jung-Ho Kang crushed 40 his last year in Korea, and no one thinks of him as any kind of power source in MLB.

There’s some hope in the small Spring Training sample at the top of that page: 968 OPS against opposition that grades out as high-minors pitching (check out “OppQual”, it’s cool). If we lop 100-150 points of OPS off to account for the further upgrade in pitching, his MLB OPS should be low/mid 800s, a useful player I think you’ll agree.

Except I’m not buying it. He’s on a pretty bad team in a pitchers’ park, and if he comes out of the chute fast he’ll have to make adjustments and/or pitchers will just pitch around him.

It also has to be said: how many players have come over here from the Asian leagues and hit for power? Cecil Fielder doesn’t count! The best one might be Hideki Matsui:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/matsuhi01.shtml

Matsui had a nice career in The Show, with 175 HR over ten seasons and clearing 30 HR and 900 OPS once in helping the Yankees win the World Series in 2004. But Matsui is your logical best-case scenario: a mid-20s HR type when everybody around him is hitting, and rather less when they’re not. These Twins aren’t Those Yanks.

Anything less than an ideal situation, and Park (NFBC ADP: 184) is going way too early, with other 1B eligibles like Adam Lind (262), Pedro Alvarez (302), and Chris Carter (314) offering better value later.

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