This article is part of our KBO Power Rankings series.
We're entering the final week of regularly-scheduled KBO games, which will be followed by two weeks of makeup games, with teams not necessarily playing every day or in organized series. The Heroes, who play in the league's lone dome, have just eight games left, while the Tigers and Giants both have 16 games left. Despite an awful week from the Dinos, which saw them go 1-6 against a pair of playoff teams, they'd built up a big enough lead previously that they're still quite safe atop the standings, holding a five-game lead with just 14 games left to play. If they can manage to just go 7-7 the rest of the way, the second-place Twins would have to finish 11-0 to earn the top spot and the bye all the way to the Korean Series that it provides.
The battle for the fifth and final playoff spot is similarly close to being decided, as the Bears lead the sixth-place Tigers by 4.5 games. A 6-7 record from the Bears to close the campaign would force the Tigers to go 11-3 to pass them. That's not to say the final three weeks won't have any excitement, however. Finishing fourth gives a team a one-game advantage in the Wild Card Round, while finish third gives a team a bye and finishing second gives a team two. With just a 2.5-game gap separating the second-place Twins from the fifth-place Bears, every result for those two teams, plus the third-place Wiz and fourth-place Heroes, could wind up being worth the equivalent of a full playoff series win.
1. LG Twins
Last Week: 4
Run Differential: +111
The Lowdown: The Twins went just 10-16 over a 26-game stretch from September 7 through October 6 and looked to be going cold at the worst possible time. Out of nowhere, they've now whipped off a six-game winning streak, including four straight over the league-leading Dinos, winning each game by at least four runs. It's probably too late for them to actually catch the Dinos, but they've certainly made quite a statement should they wind up meeting them in the Korean Series. Perhaps most impressively, they've gone on this run without Roberto Ramos (ankle), as it's been their pitching staff leading the way, allowing a total of nine runs during their six-game streak.
DFS Name to Know: Casey Kelly tossed a two-hit shutout against the Dinos on Friday, the latest outing in an excellent run which has seen him 1.72 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP over his last seven starts.
2. NC Dinos
Last Week: 1
Run Differential: +170
The Lowdown: The Dinos could afford an awful week, as they entered this past week with an eight-game lead, so their 1-6 record doesn't necessarily change their fortunes, but it's hard to keep them ahead of the Twins after they got stomped over four straight games. As a reminder, these power rankings are intended to help fantasy players, so they're more of a reflection of where teams stand at this moment rather than a prediction of where they'll sit at the end of the year. The Dinos are still clear favorites to finish first based on the lead they've built up, but it's hard to say they're better than the Twins at the moment after failing to even look competitive in the matchup. At least Chang Mo Koo (forearm) is throwing again, which could be a huge boost for the Dinos come playoff time.
DFS Name to Know: Young Gyu Kim could be developing into the rotation depth that the Dinos desperately need, as he's allowed just two earned runs over his last three starts combined, posting a 1.00 ERA, a 0.72 WHIP and a 19:1 K:BB over that stretch.
3. Doosan Bears
Last Week: 3
Run Differential: +99
The Lowdown: The Bears were leapfrogged in these rankings by the streaking Twins but hold onto the number three spot after taking two of three from the Wiz. They're still fifth in the standings but are looking quite safe there, and a move up to as high as second over their final 13 games is certainly possible. The veteran core of this team has made it to five straight Korean Series, and it wouldn't be a surprise at all to see them make a run to their sixth straight this postseason.
DFS Name to Know: Joo Hwan Choi is riding a 10-game inning streak, a stretch in which he's hitting .304/.370/.634 with three homers.
4. KT Wiz
Last Week: 2
Run Differential: +75
The Lowdown: The Wiz fell one spot in the standings this week and two spots in these power rankings, though that's as much a reflection of how tight the playoff picture is at the moment as an indictment of their recent performance, as they went a respectable 3-3, taking two games from the Giants but just one from the Bears. They need to get their foreign starters, William Cuevas and Odrisamer Despaigne, back on track if they're to do any damage in the playoffs, however. Cuevas has a 10.61 ERA over his last two starts, while Despaigne owns a 7.56 ERA over his last three.
DFS Name to Know: Mel Rojas Jr. has seven homers in his last 13 games and still has a shot to win the Triple Crown. His 44 homers are six more than anyone else in the league while his 125 RBI lead all other hitters by 12, though he trails Ah Seop Son in batting average by a margin of .357 to .350.
5. Kiwoom Heroes
Last Week: 6
Run Differential: +64
The Lowdown: The Heroes didn't have the most convincing week, taking two of three from the first-place Dinos before winning just one of three against the last-place Eagles, but it was at least enough to most them past the plummeting Tigers. They're certainly not entering the playoffs in good form, however, as they've won just four of their last 15 games and saw their manager, Hyuk Son, resign Thursday.
DFS Name to Know: Reports confirmed this week that Ha Seong Kim will indeed be posted for MLB clubs to sign this offseason, and he should certainly generate interest, as he sits ninth in OPS (.933), tied for fourth in homers (29) and tied for fifth in steals (21), all while playing shortstop.
6. Kia Tigers
Last Week: 5
Run Differential: -41
The Lowdown: I wrote last week that the Tigers probably need to go 6-1 in their upcoming games against the Eagles and Wyverns if they were going to close the two-game gap that separated them from the Bears. They didn't come anywhere close, going an embarrassing 2-5 against the league's two worst teams. They're not yet mathematically eliminated, but it's hard to envision a team that's won just two of its last 10 suddenly closing what's now a 4.5-game gap on the defending champions with just 16 left to play.
7. Lotte Giants
Last Week: 7
Run Differential: +29
The Lowdown: It wouldn't have taken much to move the Giants above the Tigers given the latter's awful week, but I see no real need to reward the Giants after they went just 2-4 against the Wiz and Lions. They're still within striking distance of the playoffs, though the five games that separate them from the Bears with just 16 left to play will likely be too much for them. Still, they finished in last place last season, 39 games behind the Bears, so this has undoubtedly been a successful campaign regardless of how it ends.
DFS Name to Know: Seung Heon Lee, a 12-year-old who's thrown just 27 career KBO innings, has looked quite good in his last two starts, allowing just seven hits in 13 scoreless innings while striking out 12 and walking just two.
8. Samsung Lions
Last Week: 8
Run Differential: -57
The Lowdown: The Lions have officially been eliminated from the playoffs, as they're 13.5 games behind the fifth-place Bears with just 15 games to play. They finished eighth place last season, missing the playoffs by that same 13.5-game margin, so this hasn't exactly been a season of progress. Still, they put up a respectable fight this past week, dropping two of three against the Giants before playing spoiler by stealing a pair of games from the still-contending Giants.
DFS Name to Know: Leadoff man Hae Min Park has eight multi-hit games in his last 12, hitting .353 and scoring 10 runs over that stretch.
9. Hanwha Eagles
Last Week: 9
Run Differential: -230
The Lowdown: The Eagles had quite an impressive week, especially for a team with nothing to play for, as they took three of four from the Tigers before taking two of three from the Heroes, both teams which are very much still contending. It's hard to call this a season of progress for the Eagles, as they sit in 10th place, 27 games out of the playoffs, after finishing 26 games out in ninth last season, but they're at least closing the season in good form and are within a game of catching the Wyverns for ninth.
DFS Name to Know: Brandon Barnes continues to drag his stat line towards respectability, as he's hitting .315 with four homers and 15 RBI over his last 18 games.
10. SK Wyverns
Last Week: 10
Run Differential: -220
The Lowdown: The Wyverns had a respectable enough week, going 3-3, including a pair of wins against the Tigers. They're at real risk of slipping behind the Eagles and finishing last in the league, however, quite an embarrassment given that they finished tied for first last season. Of their seven players with the most plate appearances this year, just one is less than 30 years old, so there's little reason to believe a dramatic improvement is on the horizon next season.
DFS Name to Know: 33-year-old Jeong Choi hasn't lost a step despite his team getting dramatically worse all around him, as he's hitting .406 with four homers over his last 10 games.