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The game between Kiwoom Heroes and Samsung Lions held at Gocheok Sky Dome on the 10th. In the bottom of the 8th inning with Kiwoom leading 5-3, ‘KBO League icon’ Lee Jeong-hoo (25) stood at bat.
It had two meanings. It was his first return to bat after suffering a left ankle injury in the game against the Lotte Giants on July 22. Above all, it was a moment of ‘separation’ that we did not know how long it would last. Lee Jeong-hoo will knock on the door of Major League Baseball (MLB) through the posting system (private competitive bidding) at the end of the 2023 season.
Lee Jeong-hoo took off his hat and greeted the audience, and fans applauded regardless of home or away. Lee Jung-hoo left a final greeting to the fans at the ground after the game.
Lee Jung-hoo, who debuted in the 2017 season, attracted attention as the son of Korean baseball legend Lee Jong-beom (current LG Twins coach). It didn't take long to clear his father's name. He was named Rookie of the Year by setting new records for the most hits (179) and runs scored (111) in his debut season as a rookie player, and has steadily grown since then, becoming one of the league's leading hitters. In the 2022 season, he won five batting crowns and also won the regular season Most Valuable Player (MVP) award.
When the ‘national hitter’ Lee Seung-yeop (current Doosan Bears manager) retired, many baseball players were originally concerned about the star’s absence. However, Lee Jung-hoo appeared and became a leading figure in the new era of the KBO League.
Now we are entering the ‘post-Lee Jung-hoo’ era. In Lee Jung-hoo's final season playing in the KBO League, many young players who can grow into stars have emerged.
The representative player is Hanwha Eagles right-handed pitcher Dong-ju Moon. After receiving arm care last season, he joined the starting lineup this season and steadily played in the rotation, recording 8 wins, 8 losses, and an ERA of 3.72. On April 12, in the bottom of the first inning against the KIA Tigers, he threw a fastball at 160.1 km/h, setting a new record for the highest speed ever by a Korean pitcher. In the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) baseball final held on the 7th, he pitched well against the Taiwanese batting line, allowing 3 hits and no runs in 6 innings.
Left-handed rookie pitcher Yoon Young-cheol, drafted in the first round by the KIA Tigers, also had a strong debut season. A right-handed sidearm that has been in the team's starting lineup for several years, he took the 5th starting position by pushing out pitcher Im Ki-young. He recorded 8 wins, 7 losses, and an average ERA of 4.04 in 25 games he pitched this season. His average velocity is in the low 140 km/h, but he appealed a completely different charm from Moon Dong-ju by using his movements to hide the ball (deception), control, and ability to control speed and speed. The two players will compete for the Rookie of the Year award in the 2023 season.
Hanwha fielder Moon Hyun-bin is also a worthy successor to Lee Jeong-hoo. He recorded a batting average of 0.266 (114 hits in 428 at-bats) in 137 games in which he appeared. He became the 7th rookie player in history to record triple-digit hits in his debut season as a high school graduate. Lotte Giants outfielder Kim Min-seok, who attracted attention as a direct junior of Lee Jeong-hoo's high school (Whimoon High School), also became the 8th person in history to achieve this record, following Moon Hyun-bin. Although he is not a rookie player, Lee Joo-hyung, who moved from LG Twins to Kiwoom and filled in for Lee Jeong-hoo's absence due to injury, also emerged as a leading player in the 'post-Lee Jeong-hoo' era. He left a batting average of 0.333 in 47 games played in a Kiwoom uniform.
Wednesday, October 18, 2023