Hanwha Eagles finish spring training on top
If spring training really mattered, the Hanwha Eagles would be pretty happy right now.
After playing the seven of their ten exhibition games that were not canceled due to rain or pollution, the Eagles are sitting at the top of the spring training table with six wins and one loss. As the Eagles finished the 2020 season in tenth place and 2019 in ninth, a first place finish is pretty exciting stuff.
Unfortunately for the Daejeon club, spring training doesn't actually count and the maximum ten warm up games don't offer an especially accurate barometer of how a team will perform over the full 144 game season.
In 2019, the SK Wyverns topped the spring training table but finished the regular season in third, while the Eagles came second and finished the regular season in ninth. In 2018, the KT Wiz finished the exhibition games in first but ended the regular season in ninth, while Kia came second in spring training and fifth for the year. Exhibition games were canceled last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Yet while their spring training success may not mean Hanwha are destined to dominate the 2021 KBO season, it is a promising sign for a team that has big plans for this year. The Eagles are shaking things up with a comprehensive international staff led by former Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Carlos Subero, with American hitting coach Johnny Washington and bench coach Darryl Kennedy, and U.S.-born Puerto Rican pitching coach Jose Rosado.
The team is so confident in this rebuild that they've partnered with streaming service Watcha to follow the team for this season and produce a behind-the-scenes documentary series. Dominating spring training is definitely a good way to start that rebuilding process.
While the Eagles have romped to the top in spring training, the NC Dinos and Doosan Bears, last year's first- and second-place teams, have taken a tumble.
The Dinos were yet to play their final spring training game against local rivals the Lotte Giants as of press time, but with six games played they sat in eighth place with just one win and four losses. With only six exhibition games in total, the Bears ended their spring training with two win and four losses.
KT finish their spring training with five wins and one loss; both the Kiwoom Heroes and the Samsung Lions finish with two wins, two losses and three ties; the LG Twins end with three wins, four losses and one tie; the Kia Tigers finish with three wins and four losses; and the SSG Landers end with one win, five losses and a tie.
The Giants had four wins and two losses as of press time.
BY JIM BULLEY [email@example.com]