“2017 was incomparably better, but I think it’s the best since.”
The momentum of the KIA Tigers is unusual. A smile also appeared on KIA coach Kim Jong-guk’s face.
KIA had a 9-game winning streak starting with the KT Wiz match on the 24th of last month and ending with the Doosan Bears match on the 6th of this month. There were many crises. First, foreign pitcher Mario Sanchez was out of action due to partial damage to his right elbow ligaments and impingement syndrome. Lee Ui-ri, who had rested due to shoulder inflammation, also had a difficult return game on the 3rd (3 innings, 4 runs).안전놀이터
The batting line filled the void on the mound. During this period, he had a team batting average of 0.336 (111 hits in 330 at-bats), 12 home runs, 78 runs scored, an on-base percentage of 0.397, and a slugging percentage of 0.521. He ranked first in batting average, runs scored, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage, and was also among the top in home runs (3rd) and hits (3rd).
Coach Kim Jong-guk said, “Recently, our players have a lot of faith that they can win. The pitchers also believe, ‘If I just add a little (strength), the batters can turn the tables.’ The batters also believe, ‘If the pitcher doesn’t give up runs, the hitters can turn the tables.’ “I think I have the mindset that I can win,” he said.
Since the momentum is so good, comparisons to the Tigers’ past heyday are common. The representative comparison target is 2017. At that time, KIA even won the combined championship with a team batting average of 0.302 (2nd all-time), 906 runs (3rd all-time), and OPS (sum of on-base percentage and slugging percentage) 0.840 (9th all-time).
How did this year’s batting lineup look in the eyes of manager Kim Jong-guk, who has watched the team’s history as a one-club man since his debut with the Haitai Tigers (predecessor of KIA) in 1996. When I asked Manager Kim, he laughed and said, “The batting line was incomparably better back then. In 2017, the team batting average was .300.”
Instead, KIA is becoming more dynamic than in 2017. In 2017, KIA was led by senior players such as Choi Hyeong-woo, Lee Beom-ho (current KIA coach), Kim Joo-chan (current Doosan Bears coach), and Lee Myung-gi (current Hanwha Eagles). This year, when table setters Park Chan-ho (27 steals in 108 games) and Kim Do-young (15 steals in 48 games) stir up the field, veterans Na Seong-beom and Choi Hyeong-woo will invite them. Coach Kim Jong-guk also laughed, saying, “Now, young players have been added. It can’t be compared (in terms of attack power) to back then, but I think it’s the best since 2017, with a more organized team.”
Park Chan-ho, the leader of the batting line, said, “Actually, I don’t think there will be much difference from 2017,” and added, “If you look at the records, it was good back then, but 2017 was a bad pitcher. If you look at the adjusted performance, I think this year is comparable enough.”
KIA’s batting performance in the second half of the year reached a batting average of 0.307 and an OPS of 0.832. There is a large difference between the league average OPS in 2017 (0.791) and the league average OPS in the second half of this year (0.711). As Park Chan-ho said, KIA’s destructive power this year can be evaluated as being on the same level as in 2017, or even higher.
Like director Kim Jong-guk, Chan-ho Park also cited structure as a strength. He said, “It’s hard to pick one person who ignited the batting line. Each person plays their role very well. From the top to the bottom, there is no hitter who can’t hit. I think we can continue to play well because everyone plays their role.” “He said.