Just like MLB stadiums, each Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) stadium’s dimensions and playing surfaces affect the games in different ways.
While KBO stadiums don’t have the history that MLB stadiums do— Fenway Park, the Red Sox home stadium built since 1912, has hosted the MLB World Series 11 times and many of the most famous moments in baseball history— they still have their own stories to tell.
For example, Daejeon Hanbat Baseball Stadium, built in 1964, was historically known as the Ping Pong Table for its small outfield dimensions. However, renovations in 1964 increased the dimensions of the outfield, giving the stadium the second largest outfield dimensions out of all KBO stadiums.
The ballpark now has a seating capacity of 13,000. Like most ballparks in the KBO and the MLB, it’s gone through significant alterations and renovations since its inception.
Jamsil Baseball Stadium is another historic KBO stadium that’s involved in not only South Korean baseball history, but Olympic baseball history.
The stadium hosted baseball at the 1988 Summer Olympics and is part of the greater Seoul Sports Complex, with nearby Seoul Sports Stadium.
Like famous MLB stadiums such as Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, many KBO stadiums have been involved in notable South Korean sporting events and help give the KBO league its unique character.
MLB Stadium Size
While much more is known about MLB teams in America than KBO teams, the rise in popularity of American betting on KBO games has led many people to wonder if KBO parks have the same effect on baseball games as American parks do.
Baseball parks are notorious for having differences between stadiums in the same league. While almost every other major sport like football, basketball, hockey, soccer, and tennis play in uniform arenas, baseball has no such playing field rules.
Additionally, football playing fields have the same dimensions across all 3 levels of the sport: high school, college, and professional. No matter what level a team is playing, they’ll have to run the same distance to score or to get a first down, ensuring uniformity among all levels of competition and across all stadiums.
While football has strict rules for playing field size, baseball has a more lax ruleset. The infields across all MLB stadiums must be uniform, and consist of a square measuring 90 feet on all sides. The amount of infield dirt, however, can be different—some infields are almost all grass or turf.
MLB rules state that parks constructed after 1958 must have at least 325 feet of distance between home plate and the nearest fence, stand, or other obstruction down the right and left-field foul lines, and 400 feet between home plate and straight away center.
However, some stadiums built before 1958 violate this rule. For example, Fenway Park is 310 feet down the left-field line, giving right-handed power bats a big advantage.
Like MLB stadiums, KBO stadiums all have different dimensions. For those new to betting on the KBO, learning the dimensions can give you a big boost in making online sports bets. If a KBO team has a powerful right-handed hitter in a stadium with a short porch in left field, they’ll have a big advantage scoring runs.
MLB Park Factors
Many baseball sites compute park factors for MLB teams from year to year. The primary purpose of these park factors is to determine if the ballpark favors hitters or pitchers.
More fly balls will turn into home runs and more runs will be scored per game at these ballparks. Historically, the KBO has been a very offense-focused league, but recent rule changes and stadium alterations have reduced the level of offense in the KBO.
On the other hand, a ballpark favoring pitchers will play the opposite. These ballparks are usually cavernous, and fly balls rarely leave the yard compared to their counterpart stadiums.
MLB park factors are computed on a yearly basis by comparing how many runs are scored from one stadium to the next and controlling for variables that can affect runs scored, like the quality of pitching or hitting of different teams.
Unfortunately, the KBO does not have as much information on park factors available to American bettors as the MLB does.
While the league has been in operation since 1982, Americans have not focused on it much until recently, due to the delayed MLB season, resulting in less knowledge about the league’s stadiums.
1- Jamsil Stadium
Playing in Jamsil Stadium, the Doosan Bears ended the 2019 season with the best record in the KBO. The LG Twins also call the stadium home, something unfamiliar to MLB fans.
The stadium was built for the 1988 Summer Olympics but is now used as a pro baseball stadium.
Jamsil Stadium is the most extreme pitcher’s park in the league with the deepest outfield and the most expansive foul territory.
In addition to the deep outfield converting more home runs into easily-tracked fly ball outs, the large foul territory also benefits pitchers.
Expansive foul territory gives a pitcher more easy foul ball pop-ups and fly outs— foul balls that would go into the stands in other stadiums and give the hitter another chance.
The park should suppress run totals, and if a fly ball pitcher is pitching many balls these will be gobbled up by the roaming fielders in the roomy outfield.
2- Munhak Baseball Stadium
Home to the SK Wyverns, Munhak Baseball Stadium is known for teams that produce lots of offense. The Wyverns have won 4 championships in their history and just came off a great season with an 88-55-1 record.
This is only 2 feet longer than Fenway Park in left-field, one of the most notorious examples of an egregiously short porch amongst all MLB stadiums.
Unlike Fenway Park though, this KBO stadium is 312’ down both foul lines, making the stadium a hitter’s paradise.
If you’re looking for a stadium that symbolizes the KBO’s reputation as a launching pad for hitters, this is it.
The stadium is also the first KBO stadium to introduce outfield bullpens—Jamsil Stadium has bullpens in both the first base and third base foul territory.
Dong-Min Han is currently leading the team offensively—he has a 1.034 OPS through 68 plate appearances and has already clobbered 6 home runs in the beginning stages of the season.
The team finished the 2019 season 88-55, so big things are expected out of their 2020 season.
With their strong offensive performances and small stadium dimensions, you can expect the Wyverns to hit for a lot of power once again this year.
The team consistently produces a lot of runs so an over bet could be wise if they’re a good matchup for the opposing pitcher.
3- Changwon NC Park
Finishing with a mediocre record of 73-69-2, the NC Dinos play in Changwon NC Park.
Unlike the MLB where many stadiums have different dimensions down each foul line, KBO stadiums are much more uniform, often measuring the same distances down each line and presenting a more symmetrical appearance.
This is an important distinction between the 2 leagues.
While ballparks like Fenway heavily favor right-handed batters despite the tall Green Monster, the neutral dimensions of many KBO parks give batters of either handedness an equal chance to leave the ballpark.
4- Suwon Baseball Stadium
Home of the KT Wiz, the 10th team to be introduced to the KBO, Suwon Baseball Stadium was also home to former MLB pitcher Dustin Nippert during his KBO tour.
Like Munhak Baseball Stadium, the park’s dimensions are smaller than the minimum dimensions permitted in MLB stadiums built after 1958.
Eric Thames, former KBO slugger who played 3 seasons there before returning to the MLB to revitalize his career, is famous for damaging the scoreboard at this stadium with one of his powerful home runs.
If a powerful offensive team like the Wyverns comes here to challenge the KT Wiz, a bet on the superior Wyverns could be a smart play.
Do you have any tips for how the KBO stadiums will play? Which ones do you think benefit hitters the most? Let us know in the comments.