The MLB should be receiving a new crop of far eastern talent in the next year or two, which means it is worth reacquainting ourselves with the standouts and talent levels of these leagues — specifically the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) and Japan’s Nippon Pro Baseball league (NPB).
Let’s start with Korea and Pittsburgh’s potential new infielder, Jeong-ho Kang:
NOTE: I am using wOBA+ here, which is merely my shorthand for wRC+ without park factors and using MLB linear weights. So the numbers are not perfect, but they’re better than OPS or OPS+.
The KBO is a hitter’s league. That is the refrain we hear most often whenever Kang’s surfaces. He slashed a filthy .356/.459/.739 with 40 homers in 2014, and his career stats suggest he’s a middle infielder who hits like he’s from the corner. But how good is he with respect to the league?
Answer: He’s the best. But a wide margin.