This article is part of our KBO Power Rankings series.
Parity has ruled the KBO in recent weeks. No team has won more than six of their last 10 games, and no team except the Eagles (who else?) has lost more than six over that stretch. As you might expect given those sorts of recent records, there remains a large group of playoff bubble teams, as the gap separating the fourth-place Twins and the eighth-place Giants sits at just 3.5 games. Those teams continue to bounce around in the standings and in these power rankings as well. While the top tier of these rankings remained constant this week, that could certainly change a week from now, as the Heroes take on the Bears at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in the midweek series.
1. NC Dinos
Last Week: 1
Run Differential: +108
The Lowdown: The Dinos stumbled early in the week, losing a pair of games against the Heroes' excellent duo of Eric Jokisch and Jake Brigham, but they recovered to grab two wins and a tie against the streaking Wiz. The team's pitching staff is back up into second place in runs allowed per game after allowing a total of just six runs against the Wiz and an average of 3.4 runs over their last 13 contests.
DFS Name to Know: Drew Rucinski would be the ace for nearly every pitching staff that doesn't include Chang Mo Koo, as he owns a 2.05 ERA and 1.08 WHIP on the season after allowing just two runs in his last four starts.
2. Kiwoom Heroes
Last Week: 2
Run Differential: +34
The Lowdown: There's certainly a case for dropping the Heroes to third in these rankings, the same place they occupy in the standings, but their series victory against the Dinos keeps them ahead of the Bears by a narrow margin. Two of their next three series come against those Bears, which should give us a much clearer picture of where those two teams stand compared to each other.
DFS Name to Know: Jake Brigham has yet to go more than five innings in his first two starts since returning from a nearly two-month absence due to an elbow injury, but he's been excellent on a per-inning basis, allowing just one run on seven hits in 10 innings while striking out nine and walking just two.
3. Doosan Bears
Last Week: 3
Run Differential: +43
The Lowdown: The Bears continue to hum along, taking two out of three against both the Wyverns and Tigers. Their pair of upcoming series against the Heroes couldn't have come at a worse time, though, as Chris Flexen is expected to miss about a month with a broken foot. The defending champions are now 19-6 when either Flexen or Raul Alcantara is starting and 19-20 with anyone else on the mound.
DFS Name to Know: Alcantara's dominant run continues, as he's now recorded a 1.78 ERA, a 0.76 WHIP and an incredible 33:1 K:BB over his last five starts.
4. Samsung Lions
Last Week: 6
Run Differential: +31
The Lowdown: The Lions are back to leading the large group of bubble teams in these rankings, as they had the best week of the bunch, winning series against both the Tigers and Giants as they bounced back from going 1-4 in the previous week. It's been the Lions' pitching staff that has keyed their surprising run, helping them go 21-13 over their last 34 games, as they've allowed just 4.44 runs per game over that stretch.
DFS Name to Know: Ja Wook Koo has eight multi-hit games in his last 10 contests, hitting .488/.512/.610 over that stretch to bring his season line up to an impressive .356/.406/.564.
5. KT Wiz
Last Week: 4
Run Differential: +9
The Lowdown: I won't penalize the Wiz much for struggling against the Dinos, as they're hardly the first team to do so this season, but given their form heading into the weekend series I'd hoped to see them manage more than just one tie and more than just six total runs. I'm keeping them above the Tigers and Twins for now, as they've been the better team over the last few weeks, but with two of their next three series coming against those two sides (and the third coming against the Dinos again), it looks like they're about to either establish themselves as legitimate contenders or fall back towards the bottom of the standings.
DFS Name to Know: I'm running out of ways to describe the dominance of Mel Rojas Jr., who hit his 22nd homer of the year Sunday, so here's a quick glance at his OPS in each of the last nine weeks: 1.320, 1.122, 1.042, 1.125, 1.111, 1.1851, 1.243, 1.331, 1.262.
6. Kia Tigers
Last Week: 5
Run Differential: +21
The Lowdown: The Tigers still hold onto the fifth and final playoff spot in the standings by a half-game margin, but they fall to sixth here as they followed up their sweep of the Heroes by losing two of three to both the Lions and Bears. They remain a very one-dimensional team, with their top-ranked pitching staff keeping them in the race despite the fact that their lineup has scored just the seventh-most runs per game, though their rotation took a hit when Ki Young Im hit the injured list due to shoulder inflammation Tuesday.
DFS Name to Know: Chang Jin Lee made his first start of the season in early July after being sidelined due to a back injury for the first two months of the season and has gone on to lead off in all 10 of his starts, hitting .364/.440/.477.
7. LG Twins
Last Week: 7
Run Differential: +20
The Lowdown: The Twins do still sit fourth in the standings after a week in which they went 4-2, but I see no reason to move them up these rankings when three of those wins came against the Eagles. They still haven't won a series against anyone but the Eagles, Giants or Wyverns since the end of May, so they could be in for a tough time this week against the Wiz and Bears.
DFS Name to Know: Seven of Hyun Soo Kim's 12 homers on the season (a total which already surpasses his mark of 11 from last year) have come in his last 14 games, a stretch in which he's hitting .364/.444/.818 while driving in 23 runs.
8. Lotte Giants
Last Week: 8
Run Differential: -14
The Lowdown: The Giants continue to hang around at the back of a large group of bubble teams, taking a pair of games from the Twins before dropping two of three to the Lions. While their lineup did manage a pair of surprising offensive explosions, scoring 15 and 10 runs on Thursday and Friday, respectively, that unit still ranks eighth in scoring, making it tough to envision the Giants managing a true charge up the standings.
DFS Name to Know: Dan Straily picked up the win in both of his starts this week and has now allowed just a single run on just 10 hits over his last three starts combined, bringing his season ERA all the way down to 2.03.
9. SK Wyverns
Last Week: 9
Run Differential: -89
The Lowdown: The Wyverns bounced back from dropping two of three to the Eagles by going a very respectable 3-3 against the Bears and Heroes, taking two of three against the Heroes over the weekend. They'll have new signing Tyler White arriving in a few weeks to help their anemic offense after he goes through a mandatory two-week quarantine, but it seems far too late for them to make a playoff push as they're 13.5 games out of the fifth spot.
DFS Name to Know: Seung Won Moon hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his last nine starts, posting a 2.31 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP over that stretch.
10. Hanwha Eagles
Last Week: 10
Run Differential: -163
The Lowdown: The Eagles' win over the Wyverns on Monday sealed just their fourth series victory of the season, two of which have come against the ninth-place side. In typical Eagles fashion, though, they won just one of their next six games, though they face the Wyverns again next weekend, giving them a chance to go .500 in a week for just the second time all year.
DFS Name to Know: Brandon Barnes joined the Eagles on Saturday and served as the cleanup hitter in both weekend games, acquitting himself very well by going 4-for-8 with three doubles in his first two KBO contests.