Once we play, I don’t think we’ll lose. Even if we lose, I think we’ll win, so I think we’ll keep going up (in the rankings).”
These are the thoughts of backup catcher Han Jun-su (24), who led the KIA Tigers to 7 consecutive wins with stable catcher reading and surprising home runs, after the game.스포츠토토
KIA won 12-4 over SSG Landers in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League regular season away game held at Incheon SSG Landers Field located in Michuhol-gu, Incheon on the 2nd.
On this day, with a crowd of 23,000 people gathered at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, KIA presented its 7th consecutive win in about 2 years to the fans who filled the third base. KIA’s 7 consecutive wins have been 753 days since the Gwangju NC game on July 1, 2021, and the Gwangju Hanwha Eagles game on August 10, securing a winning series against 3rd place SSG, narrowing the gap to 2.5 games.
The firepower of the KIA batting line, which inflicted the humiliation of a 7-run loss in 3 innings to MVP candidate Eric Peddie (NC Dinos) on August 31st two days ago, was not a one-time surprise performance. He also succeeded in scoring double digits in two games against SSG, scoring 35 points over three days.
The performance was not focused on a specific player. The previous day (the 2nd), the main characters were the table setters Park Chan-ho (28) and Kim Do-young (20), who combined for 6 hits, 3 RBIs, and 6 runs, but on this day, backup catcher Han Jun-su, who started for the first time in a long time, played as the 8th hitter and recorded 2 hits in 4 at-bats ( 1 home run) 2 RBIs and 1 walk while on base 3 times. The young players’ performance stood out, with Oh Seon-woo (26), a promising slugger, leaving a strong impression with a wedge three-run shot even though he had only one at-bat as a pinch hitter in the 9th inning. In addition, the powerful cleanup consisting of Na Seong-beom (34), Choi Hyeong-woo (40), and Socrates Brito (30) took the center of the batting lineup, scoring 12 hits and 13 RBIs, including 3 home runs, over two days.
In this way, the ability to bat without a break in any batting order has become the secret to promising players being able to hit their swings. Junsu Han expressed his excitement, saying, “Hitting with confidence is my biggest strength, so I am actively hitting from the first pitch. My seniors and hyungs are so good at the front of the batting order that I feel like I can hit comfortably even from behind.”
In the second half of the season, the momentum of KIA’s batting line is as hot as an active volcano. He ranks first in productivity with a team batting average of 0.304 and OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.822. During the same period, there is a significant gap between the Samsung Lions, who ranked second in team batting average (0.296), and the NC Dinos, who ranked second in OPS (0.779). Naturally, the team’s RBI (191) and runs (206) are also overwhelming.
Among the players who have had more than 30 at-bats since the All-Star break, only eight have a batting average of .300. Na Seong-beom and Park Chan-ho are leading the team’s batting lineup with a batting average of 0.368 (43 hits in 117 at-bats), and returning captain Kim Sun-bin is contributing to the team with a precise batting average (0.315) despite a low slugging percentage. Choi Hyung-woo and Socrates are playing a central role in the lineup with 4 home runs, 26 RBI, OPS 0.859, and 5 home runs, 24 RBI, OPS 0.975, respectively. In particular, in the outfield, there are rare players with the performance to take a starting spot in other teams, such as Ko Jong-wook (batting average 0.350, OPS 0.822), Lee Chang-jin (batting average 0.333, OPS 0.811), and Lee Woo-sung (batting average 0.300, OPS 0.820), depending on the conditions of the day. It’s a rare business trip.
Looking at KIA’s powerful batting lineup in the second half of the season, what comes to mind is KIA’s 2017 Korean Series winning season. At this time, KIA boasted such tremendous firepower that it was possible to fill numbers 1 through 8 with .300 hitters, with a season team batting average of 0.302 and an OPS of 0.839. The batting line consisting of Myung-gi Lee, Joo-chan Kim, Roger Bernardina, Hyeong-woo Choi, Ji-wan Na, Chi-hong Ahn, Beom-ho Lee, Min-sik Kim, and Sun-bin Kim was the driving force behind the team’s ERA of 4.79 (5th in the league) at the time, despite having a weak mound, taking first place in the regular season and winning the Korean Series. This is it.
The situation is similar with KIA today. Unlike the solid batting lineup, there were several negative factors on the mound, such as replacement foreign player Mario Sanchez’s slump and injury, Yang Hyun-jong’s decline in physical strength, and Lee Ui-ri’s shoulder pain. As a result, the pitching staff with a team ERA of 4.29 (5th in the league) in the second half of the season became a threat to KIA’s fall baseball challenge with the largest remaining game schedule.
However, the firepower of scoring 3 or 5 more points when giving up 2 points is also the reason why KIA is considered a dark horse in fall baseball. Moreover, he is contributing greatly to the stability of the mound by instilling in the team a winning mentality that makes it unlikely that they will lose even if they give up one or two points.
Yang Hyun-jong, who stood tall as the pitcher with the most starting wins in KBO League history the previous day (the 2nd), said, “Rather than leading the game, I am approaching the game with the mindset of holding on little by little. Since our batting lineup is so good, I gave 2 points instead of 3 points, but gave 5 points. “I think it is my role and duty to lay the foundation for a comeback by giving up as few runs as possible, such as giving up 3 runs. As the batters score plenty of points, I am able to pitch without being chased,” he said, thanking the team’s batting lineup. indicated.