KBO & NPB Picks, Predictions & Betting Odds (Friday, June 19): Bears vs. Twins & and Opening Day in Japan
Han Myung-Gu/Getty Images. Pictured: Young-ha Lee
On Friday, we can add another baseball league to our betting portfolio, Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league, as my quest continues to become, per my editor Michael Leboff, the “Epcot of Baseball Betting.”
The NPB will play a shortened 120-game season (usually 143), skip its all-star game and avoid interleague play, after postponing its initially scheduled opening day (March 20) by three months.
The NPB consists of two leagues, the Central League and the Pacific League, with six teams in either league, and each team will play 24 games against each of its five league-mates this season.
Run-scoring is about 12% lower, and power is slightly more scarce in NPB games as compared to MLB games, but otherwise, the two leagues compare very favorably:
The pitching is significantly better in Japan, as compared with the KBO or CPBL, so you may not be sweating as many bullpen blowups in the late innings.
We’ll have more time to delve into the culture, history and players that make up Japan’s top league, beginning next week.
For now, enjoy the NPB game projections (at the bottom of this page) and look out for substantial line value before placing any wagers, particularly with regards to totals. The NPB model is built using the same data points as the CPBL and KBO models, but it is untested to this point.
- KBO Year to Date: 65-77 (-5.79 Units)
- CPBL Year to Date: 35-29 (+7.54 Units)
- NPB Year to Date: 0-0 (+0.00 units)
KBO Odds, Picks, Predictions & Betting Model
Doosan Bears vs. LG Twins
- Bears moneyline: TBD
- Twins moneyline: TBD
- Over/under: TBD
- Time: 5:30 a.m. ET
- TV: ESPN
- BET NOW
Probable Pitchers: Doosan Bears (Young-ha Lee) vs. LG Twins (Woo-chan Cha)
Friday’s featured KBO game pits the second-place LG Twins (25-13) against the third-place Doosan Bears (22-16).
No team has hit the ball hard as often, or allowed their opponents to hit the ball hard less frequently than the LG Twins (22% and 17%, respectively) this season:
KBO Team Data, through 6/17 (courtesy @SportsInfo_SIS)
Top 3 Over Teams: Bears, Dinos, Wiz
• Over: 58%
• Batting Hard Hit: 20.3%
• Pitching Hard Hit: 19.3%
Top 3 Under Teams: Eagles, Tigers, Wyverns
• Over: 45%
• Batting Hard Hit: 17.3%
• Pitching Hard Hit: 18% pic.twitter.com/cisMbuFq3B
— Sean Zerillo (@SeanZerillo) June 18, 2020
That’s a very positive indicator for their future success — though I am concerned about Roberto Ramos, who ranks second in the KBO in hard-hit rate (32.5%) but is currently dealing with a back injury despite returning to the Twins lineup on Thursday.
The Bears (115 wRC+) and Twins (114 wRC+) have two of the top three offenses in the KBO this season, though the Twins’ pitching staff (4.42 FIP), particularly their starters, have outperformed the Bears’ pitchers (4.64 FIP).
The Bears have the edge in the starting-pitching matchup on Friday, however, as Young-ha Lee (4.43 FIP; 3.95 in 2019) faces Woo-chan Cha (5.00 FIP; 4.26 in 2019).
FIP or Fielding Independent Pitching measures what a pitcher’s ERA would look like if the pitcher experienced league-average defense and luck.
wRC+ or Weighted Runs Created Plus takes the statistic Runs Created and adjusts that number to account for critical external factors — like ballpark or era. It’s adjusted, so a wRC+ of 100 is league average, and 150 would be 50 percent above league average.
Lee has popped up in several ESPN games this season. The 23-year-old has yet to fully harness an enticing arsenal, which includes a 93-mph fastball, soft-contact cutter (87-88 mph), an out-pitch slider (80-81 mph), and some slow curveballs:
My biggest concern with Lee is his command. He has 27 strikeouts against 23 walks in 39.2 innings pitched this season — a decline from his career 1.49 strikeout-to-walk ratio — but Lee’s 2019 FIP was about 5.5% better than league average, and he has only improved this season.
I view Lee as the KBO’s version of Sandy Alcantara. His stuff is excellent, but his strikeout and command metrics leave a lot to be desired.
Crafty lefty Woo-chan Cha will make his eighth start of the season for the Twins, after taking the ball on opening day, and his most significant advantage against the Bears is his handedness.
The Bears’ offense is primarily left-handed, and their team OPS is around 50 points lower against southpaw pitching, as compared to right-handed pitching.
Cha tops out at around 87 mph, but he knows how to change speeds and pitch effectively, with his curveball, forkball and slider as secondary offerings:
Cha Woo-chan, Fastball and Curveball, Overlay (Synced at release) pic.twitter.com/WjqzgX8AOa
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 29, 2020
I project the Twins as 50.9% favorites for Friday, and I would bet the Twins to +111 (implied 47.4%), which is a 3.5% edge compared to my projection.
Conversely, I would look to bet the Bears at +119 (implied 45.6%) or better, which is also a 3.5% edge compared to my projection (49.1%). Use our betting calculator to find your edge if you have different odds.
I project the total at 10.7 runs and would either bet Over 10 (+101) or Over 9.5 (-110) at a 3.5% edge.
See all of Friday’s KBO, NPB, and CPBL projections below, and check back later today for my picks on the Twins-Bears game, and Friday’s other baseball games.
Doosan Bears vs. LG Twins Picks
- Doosan Bears Team Total, Over 4.5 (-112, 0.5 units)
Full KBO Betting Card for June 19
- KIA Tigers -155 (1.5 units)
- Kiwoom Heroes -125 (0.5 units)
- Samsung Lions / KIA Tigers, Over 8.5 (-105, 0.5 units)
- Doosan Bears Team Total, Over 4.5 (-112, 0.5 units)
- Hanwha Eagles, Team Total Over 2.5 (-116, 0.5 units)
KBO Year to Date: 65-77 (-5.79 Units)
Full CPBL Betting Card for June 19
- CTBC Brothers +115 (1 unit)
- Brothers / Monkeys, Over 11.5 (-110, 0.5 units)
CPBL Year to Date: 35-29 (+7.54 Units)
Full NPB Betting Card for June 19
- Chiba Lotte Marines +135 (1 unit)
- Nippon-Ham Fighters +125 (1 unit)
- Yokohama DeNA Baystars -120 (1 unit)
NPB Year to Date: 0-0 (+0.00 units)
Zerillo’s Baseball Model, June 19
Download the Excel doc with my projections to input odds from your sportsbook. These projections cover the full game moneylines, over/unders, and team totals. A sample of one of the sheets is below: