This year, KIA’s move to solve the 1B problem is still in the works.
A question that hasn’t been answered this year: does the answer have to come from outside the organization?
The KIA Tigers’ first base this season. The team seemed to be less worried than last year. The growth of Hwang Dae-in (27), who spent last season as a full-time first baseman, and the promising Byun Woo-hyuk (23), who was acquired in a trade from the Hanwha Eagles, seemed to be the right people to solve their problems.
But expectations quickly turned to disappointment. Hwang Dae-in batted just 2-for-1 in the month of April, and his monthly batting average dropped further to 2-for-5 in May. While he had turned around his sluggish start to the year in May, this year he struggled to find his hitting stroke. The shaky offense also affected the defense. Eventually, KIA decided to address the issue by removing Hwang Dae-in from the first team and using Choi Won-joon, an outfielder returning from military service, at first base.
Byun Woo-hyuk also batted just 1 for 9 in the month of April. He was in the rotation with Hwang Dae-in and occasionally hit a long ball, but his overall hitting was not satisfactory. His inexperience in the field was also evident. In May, his batting average dropped to 1.184. In June, he bounced back to 3.32, but an Achilles tendon injury slowed him down. It was disappointing because he was in the middle of a good stretch. It was expected that he would perform well after returning from injury, but he again had a poor start to the season. Oh Seon-woo (27), who was called up after the expanded roster, also failed to live up to expectations.
With more left-handed hitters, first base defense is becoming increasingly important. Another hot corner is the outfield, which requires not only a steady delivery but also quickness. In the offense, the big guns are expected to produce a steady stream of medium- to long-range hits.
In this sense, KIA’s first base position will need to be strengthened in some form next season.
However, there are plenty of question marks. It’s hard to say whether Hwang Dae-in will be able to bounce back after a down year last year, and how much Byun Woo-hyuk will improve next year based on his experience this year. Oh Seon-woo’s lack of production across the board in the offense only adds to KIA’s woes.
It is unlikely that they will fill the first base spot with a foreign hitter. Socrates Brito, who has played the past two years, will most likely stay with the team next year. Socrates saw his batting average drop from last year (3.01 to 2.08), but his home runs (17 to 20) and RBIs (77 to 96) increased, 카지노사이트킴 and he was productive in the center field. It’s not easy to find a bat that can go beyond Socrates’ performance over the past two years and solve the first base woes.
As a result, it is expected that KIA will look outside the organization.
The names of Yang Seok-hwan (Doosan Bears) and Ahn Chi-hong (Lotte Giants) have been repeatedly mentioned as possible first base options in the upcoming free agency. Yang is batting .281 (147-for-524) with 21 home runs, 89 RBIs, and a .787 OPS this season. He had a “career-high” season, outperforming his previous one, and was part of the centerpiece of Doosan’s batting order alongside Yang. Ahn Chi-hong, who joined Lotte from KIA ahead of the 2020 season, batted .292 (125-for-425) with eight home runs, 63 RBIs, and a .774 OPS this season. While his primary position is second base, he can also play first base and has been a consistent performer in his four years with Lotte. Most importantly, he returns to his hometown team, KIA.
The addition of a veteran first baseman will have a positive impact on KIA’s first base depth, which still needs to grow.
In addition to stabilizing the defense at first base, the potential for synergy in the rotation is appealing. However, the variables will be how the market price for these players will be shaped and what kind of picture KIA will paint as it accelerates its internal development under Shim Jae-hak.