Park Chan-ho, who has proven his evolution, will he challenge to become the ‘best shortstop’?

One of the trends that can be glimpsed from the 2022 KBO League Korean Series to the Stove League is ‘difficulty in nurturing a shortstop’. Kiwoom Heroes challenged SSG Landers, who finished first in the regular season in the Korean Series last year, but finished runner-up with 2 wins and 4 losses. In the postseason, Kiwoom alternately used two young shortstops, Kim Hwi-jip and Shin Jun-woo, but had to be satisfied with the runner-up due to the anxiety of the accompanying defense. Kiwoom re-recruited Russell, a foreign player who played in 2020, and takes over as the main shortstop again. 

The Lotte Giants recruited free agent Noh Jin-hyeok for a total of 5 billion won over 4 years to make up for the shortstop weakness that they have suffered for many years. In other words, it means that Lotte admitted to failing to develop a shortstop internally. After the end of the 2023 season, the LG Twins signed a six-year contract worth 12.4 billion won with main shortstop Oh Ji-hwan, who will qualify for the second FA. LG eliminated in advance the possibility of a free agent transfer for Oh Ji-hwan, the best shortstop in the league who won the Golden Glove last year. This series of contracts reaffirmed just how valuable a shortstop is.

The KIA Tigers are a team that does not worry about shortstops. This is because Park Chan-ho, who joined in 2014, is proving his growth step by step. Park Chan-ho has been the KIA’s main shortstop since 2020. After the end of the 2019 season, second basema카지노사이트 Ahn Chi-hong obtained FA qualification and transferred to Lotte. As Kim Seon-bin, who was the starting shortstop, was converted to second baseman, Park Chan-ho took over as shortstop. There were also views that questioned whether Park Chan-ho could settle down in the most difficult position in the infield.

Shortstops are required to cover a wide range of defense, which puts a lot of physical pressure on them. No matter how excellent his offensive ability is, he cannot be used as a starting shortstop if he is frequently injured. However, after serving as the starting shortstop, Park Chan-ho showed consistency by appearing in more than 130 games each year for three consecutive years until last year. 

Last year, Park Chan-ho recorded a batting average of 0.272, 4 homers, 45 RBIs, and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.685. His batting average, home runs, and OPS were the best since his pro debut. It is meaningful as it was the first hitter who entered the plate the most and required strong stamina. The WAR (based on the Kaby Report), which indicates the contribution to victory compared to the substitute player, was 2.57, which was also a career high.

The number of defensive errors was 22, which was the second highest in the league. There were times when he lost his concentration and made absurd mistakes, but overall defensive stability is evaluated as much improved than in the past. 

Park Chan-ho, who was born in 1995 and is celebrating his 28-year-old season, is expected to improve his skills in both offense and defense. It is a story that his pro experience has accumulated considerably and he has come to a point where he can enjoy his prime. There is also optimism that Park Chan-ho’s challenge for the Golden Glove will be possible when his skills reach the peak.

The KIA is concerned about the fact that there was no reinforcement in power last winter while main catcher Park Dong-won obtained FA qualification and transferred to LG. Attention is focusing on whether Park Chan-ho will lead the team’s fall baseball for the second year in a row as the KIA’s spearhead. 

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