Below is a list of changes you will see in the KBO League this upcoming season. Just like any other offseason the Korea Baseball Organization’s (KBO) Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Official Playing Rule Committee gathered to discuss possible ways to improve the league. As mentioned in last year’s post, some of these rules will gradually be applied in the amateur level this year.
I have tried to keep the translations as direct as possible. Any additional information to aid your comprehension are written in brackets or parentheses.
Article XI, 105(1) – First-Year Player Draft
– Before change: … A club is not permitted to register a declared player (or non-drafted free agent), under the purpose of development in the KBO Futures League, to the active roster of a KBO League Club before or on June 1.
– After change: … A club is not permitted to register a development player (or non-drated free agent), under the purpose of development in the KBO Futures League, to the active roster of a KBO League Club before or on May 1.
- Undrafted first-year players or players who sign with a team but are not included in the team’s 63-man roster were called shingo seonsu (신고 선수, 申告 選手) Literally translated as “declared players”, the word means these non-roster players are still declared as players officially licensed to play in a KBO League game. Now they will be called yukseong seonsu (육성 선수, 育成 選手) or “development players”. Since the system is pretty much identical to NPB’s ikusei senshu system, I believe the KBO changed the name in this way. Meanwhile, these trainees have earned the opportunity for an early season call-up with the league allowing them to play in the KBO League as early as May 2.
Article XI, 108(2) – The 2nd Selection Meeting
– Before change: The Korea Baseball Organization Clubs shall select one player in the reverse order of their standings at the close of the preceding championship season with regard to post-season results for odd-numbered rounds, and order of their standings at the close of the preceding championship season with regard to post-season results for even-numbered rounds. These orders shall govern each round.
– After change: The Korea Baseball Organization Clubs shall select one player in the reverse order of their standings at the close of the preceding championship season with regard to post-season results. This order shall govern each round.
- Competitive balance was the reason for this decision. We will not see the selections zig-zagging anymore.
KBO Rules (Basic Agreement)
– Added: Participating franchises in the KBO League increase from nine clubs to ten.
- The Suwon KT Wiz will join the KBO League this upcoming season to even up the number of clubs to 10. Thus, there will be no more bye series for any ballclubs. Unless sports as a whole begin occupy the minds of the Korean people, this would likely be the last expansion team you will see for years to come.
– Added: A KBO Wild Card Game will be played between the 4th and 5th place teams. This would be a best of two format all played at the 4th place team’s home stadium. The 4th place team would need to either win or tie the game to advance to the next round, whereas the 5th place team will need two straight victories to do the same.
- More teams, more chances for a playoff berth. This ended up being the KBO’s decision after numerous rumors (and wishes) among Korean fans that the league will go with a two-division format.
– Added: Games can now be called from excessive heat. Umpires and game operation manager of each game will decide whether the game can be continued after a Game Operating Technical Committee member gains weather information through the Korea Meteorological Administration.
① Excessive heat watch: High temperature of 33˚C (91.4˚F) or above for two consecutive days between June to September.
② Excessive heat warning: High temperature of 35˚C (95˚F) or above for two consecutive days between June to September.
- This is unlikely to happen since with the big league games since all of them will be played after 5:00 pm during summertime. It is more targeted for the Futures League since their games begin at 1:00 pm and few were cancelled last year due to extreme heat. However, South Korea does experience occasional heat waves in September when Saturday games start at 2:00 pm.
Article I, 1 (1) – KBO League Scheduling
– Before change: As a single-division league, each team shall be scheduled to play 128 games (16 games each against every other team), and a league total of 576 games during each championship season.
– After change: As a single-division league, each team shall be scheduled to play 144 games (16 games each against every other team), and a league total of 720 games during each championship season.
- Instead of keeping the number of games played per team between the 120-130 range, the KBO decided to go for a jump. This would pretty much equal the number of games played in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). However, with no indoor stadiums and this much games to play, will the KBO be able to go through the monsoon and torrential rain and keep the season from the frozen tundra.
Article I, 14(1) – Players Eligible
– Before change: … 26 active players (with additional five, thus 31 players after September 1). However, 25 players (30 players after September 1) can participate in a single game.
– After change: … 27 active players (with additional five, thus 32 players after September 1). However, 25 players (30 players after September 1) can participate in a single game.
- The KBO has added a roster spot for domestic players. This had been a debate among baseball people ever since the league decided to go with that extra foreign player spot. With the country’s demographics being predominantly Korean, in addition to the labor issues the country is facing, this was bound to happen.
Article I, 15(2) – KBO League Exchanging Lineup Cards and Announcing Lineups
– Before change: The roster and official lineup card cannot be changed or revoked once they are submitted. If a batter fails to appear on the field, or being upon the field once the lineup cards have been exchanged, the batter may not enter the game (not credited with a game played). If the batter is a designated hitter, the team may not use a designated hitter. However, if an injury to the batter has been confirmed by the umpire crew a substitution is permitted even after the lineup cards have been exchanged. In this case, a right-handed batter must be substituted with a right-handed batter, left-handed batter with a left-handed batter, right-handed pitcher with a right-handed pitcher, and left-handed pitcher with a left-handed pitcher. This does not apply if there are no remaining player who match the batting side of the batter or throwing side of a pitcher on the roster, or if the batter is a switch hitter. This also does not apply to the pitcher on the lineup card who falls under the KBO Official Baseball Rule 3.05(a). For fielders, players of the home team cannot be substituted before players take their defensive positions according to the lineup card and the umpire-in-chief has called “Play” for the start of the game with the exception of when a player is recognized by the umpire-in-chief’s judgment as unable to play.
– After change: a. The roster and official lineup card cannot be changed or revoked once they are submitted. However, a substitution is permitted in the following exceptions:
① If a player fails to appear on the field, or being upon the field (if the player is a designated hitter, no designated hitter shall be used); or
② If a player, in the umpire crew’s judgment, is clearly injured (if the player is a designated hitter, the team is permitted to use a designated hitter).
b. A substitution is permitted if a starting pitcher or relief pitcher, in the umpire crew’s judgment, is clearly injured to pitch before the first batter he face is out, reaches base, or records the third out.
c. Substitutions shall be made according to the following:
i. Right-handed pitcher → right-handed pitcher;
ii. Left-handed pitcher → left-handed pitcher; and
iii. Sidearm or underhand → sidearm or underhand (side of throwing arm must match).
i. Right-handed batter → right-handed batter; and
ii. Left-handed batter → left-handed batter.
d. After substitution, the substituted player shall not re-enter the game (not credited with a game played). An exception will be if there are no players on the roster who matches the batting or throwing hand, or arm slot.
- This was probably the toughest to translate because the original text in Korean was unable to comprehend. You probably get the idea of this rule as it explains about emergency situations before the umpire calls “Play”. I will come up with a better translation once I have a full grasp of what the KBO was trying to say.
Article IV, 41(2) – KBO Korean Series Eligibility
– Before change: Each KBO Club that participates in the KBO Korean Series may establish an active roster of no more than 27 players (27 may participate in a game), one manager, and eight coaches for each game.
– After change: Each KBO Club that participates in the KBO Korean Series may establish an active roster of no more than 28 players (28 may participate in a game), one manager, and eight coaches for each game.
- More teams, more players, more registered players, and more registered players during the playoffs.
Article V, 46(1) – KBO All-Star Game Format
– Before change: Nine franchises shall be divided into the Eastern League and Western League.
Eastern League: Doosan, Lotte, Samsung, and SK.
Western League: Hanwha, KIA, LG, NC, and Nexen.
– After change: 10 franchises shall be divided into Dream All-Stars and Nanum All-Stars.
Dream All-Stars: Doosan, KT, Lotte, Samsung, and SK.
Nanum All-Stars: Hanwha, KIA, LG, NC, and Nexen.
- The Suwon KT Wiz will be joining the former Eastern League. In addition, the names of each teams had been changed through a fan competition. I hoped not to see the word “dream” again as it reminds me of the *sigh* “Dream League” and “Magic League” format back in 1999-2000. Nanum would be translated into “Giving” or “Sharing”. The KBO has stated that in future events the All-Stars will engage in volunteer activities in collaboration with charity organizations.
Article V, 47(1) – All-Star Game Election and Selection
– Before change: The Best 11 (nine starting position players, one starting designated hitter, and one starting pitcher) of each team shall be elected by the fans as a popularity vote through a specific ballot conducted by the Korea Baseball Organization. Each of the chosen managers shall be designated to select 12 players not included in their Best 11.
– After change: The Best 12 (nine starting position players, one starting designated hitter, one starting pitcher, and one relief pitcher) of each team shall be elected by the fans as a popularity vote through a specific ballot conducted by the Korea Baseball Organization. …
- The KBO added a ballot for relievers stressing the importance on how they affect the game nowadays.
Annex – Speed-Up Rules
– Added: A batter who is entitled to first base because of a base on balls must jog to first base and remove his equipment at first base. *Unless the batter-runner sustains an injury.
- I recall reading something like this from a blog in the States, and it was just a joke. Well, it is NO joke in South Korea.
Annex, 1(2) – Speed-Up Rules, Team
– Before change: Only the manager may appeal a decision during a game. The bench coach may accompany the manager, however, he is not permitted to appeal a decision. The umpire shall issue a warning to a bench coach’s first violation, and an ejection upon the bench coach’s second violation in a game.
– After change: Only the manager may appeal a decision during a game. No coaches are permitted to accompany the manager. For such infraction of this section the penalty shall be immediate ejection from the game.
- I suppose it would be tougher to appeal a call alone than having some moral support behind you.
Annex, 3(1) – Speed-Up Rules, Substitution of a Pitcher
– Before change: … When a pitcher is replaced during an inning, the time of substitution, 2:45, shall be displayed on the scoreboard. The timing starts when a notification is given by the official scorer.
– After change: … When a pitcher is replaced during an inning, the time of substitution, 2:30, shall be displayed on the scoreboard. The timing starts when a notification is given by the official scorer.
- All games in South Korea are televised throughout the country.
Annex, 5(1) – Speed-Up Rules, Batter
– Before change: The batter shall not leave his position in the batter’s box due to unnecessary actions. The umpire shall issue a warning to a batter’s first violation, and award a strike without the pitcher having to deliver the pitch to a batter’s second violation in a game.
– After change: The batter shall keep at least one foot in the batter’s box from the point the batter taking his position in the batter’s box. The umpire shall call an automatic strike without a pitch for every violation. *Unless one of the following exception applies:
a. The batter swings at a pitch and loses balance;
b. The batter is forced out of the batter’s box in attempt to avoid a pitch;
c. A member of either team requests and is granted “Time”;
d. A wild pitch or passed ball occurs;
e. The pitcher leaves the pitching mound after receiving the ball;
f. The catcher leaves the catcher’s box to give defensive signals;
g. The batter sustains injury or illness, or any justified delay such as changing a bat;
h. There is a delay in the game action due to natural disaster or other reasons; or
i. In the judgment of the umpires.
- This rule is still under debate. After a couple of exhibition games last week, coaches and players have complained the rule unreasonable and unfair. Umpires are still adjusting to the new rules, and overlook mistakes made by batters. On the other hand, there has been baseball writers who support the idea of finally having a pitcher-friendly rule.
Annex, 5(7) – Speed-Up Rules, Batter
– Before change: The batter should not enter the batter’s box after hearing out his walk-up music. The time of the walk-up music must be less than 10 seconds.
– After change: A batter should not enter the batter’s box after hearing out his walk-up music. The time of the walk-up music must be less than 10 seconds. The umpire shall award a strike without the pitcher having to deliver a pitch for every violation.
- Basically, when a batter is up, he needs to be in the batter’s box in 10 seconds. Any hesitation may have the batter with an 0-1 deficit. The automatic strike here is not added to the pitcher’s pitch count.
Annex – Penalties
– Added: Public slander against the KBO League or a franchise by a front office staff(s), umpire(s), manager(s), coach(es), or player(s) of a ballclub, or defamation of an individual through a racial statement, etc. shall be penalized.
- There had been several issues on racism (remarks by a Korean player, comic strip by a Korean cartoonist, retweet by a foreign player, remarks by a Korean color commentator, etc.) during the past two seasons. And, it has been two years since the KBO received a warning by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea urging the league to clean up its act. Therefore, it would be very interesting to see how this will be enforced during this season and how well it should create awareness. It should be a step forward towards fighting against racism. Though I do hope the punishments are fair, and does not favor one side.
KBO League Official Baseball Rules
Rule 8.01 – The Pitcher
Added: (f) A pitcher must indicate visually to the umpire-in-chief, the batter and any runners the hand with which he intends to pitch, which may be done by wearing his glove on the other hand while touching the pitcher’s plate. The pitcher is not permitted to pitch with the other hand until the batter is retired, the batter becomes a runner, the inning ends, the batter is substituted for by a pinch-hitter or the pitcher incurs an injury. In the event a pitcher switches pitching hands during an at-bat because he has suffered an injury, the pitcher may not, for the remainder of the game, pitch with the hand from which he has switched. The pitcher shall not be given the opportunity to throw any preparatory pitches nor switch gloves after switching pitching hands. EXCEPTION: Ambidextrous gloves shall be permitted.
- This season, the KBO League has its own version of Pat Venditte. Hanwha Eagles right-hander, Choi Woo-seok (최우석), has converted himself to become an ambidextrous pitcher. This prompted the league to add the so-called “Choi Woo-seok Rule”. One difference from the MLB Official Baseball Rule is that the KBO version mentions an ambidextrous glove. Fascinating.
A logo decoration is permitted on the rear slope of the pitching mound. The color scheme of a cap insignia may be altered. However, white is not permitted to be used. The logo shall be limited to a 60cm×60cm marking behind the pitcher’s plate.
A commercial advertisement is permitted on first, second, and third base bags. The advertisement shall be limited to a 17cm×3cm team logo and inscription of the team name.
The outfield fence can be in a different color (other than .
a. Shoes and the undershirt shall be uniform to the team’s color scheme.
b. Arm sleeves shall be uniform to the color of the undershirt. No brand logo or trademark shall appear on the arm sleeve.
i. Warning for first violation;
ii. 200,000 KRW fine for second violation;
iii. 300,000 KRW fine for third violation; and
iv. 1,000,000 KRW fine for fourth violation and after.
- 2015년도 KBO 제2 차 이사회 결과, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Mar. 10, 2015.
- KBO 규칙위원회 회의 결과 발표, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Mar. 5, 2015.
- 2015 타이어뱅크KBO 리그 ‘이렇게 달라진다’, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Mar. 5, 2015.
- 2015년 제 1차 이사회 결과, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Jan. 13, 2015.
- 2015년 KBO 제1 차 실행위원회 결과, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Jan. 6, 2015.
- KBO, 경기 스피드업 회의 결과, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Dec. 23, 2014.
- 2014년도 KBO 제4 차 이사회 결과, Korea Baseball Organization/Sports2i, Dec. 9, 2014.
- 2014 Official Baseball Rules, Major League Baseball.