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MVP and overseas expansion... Noh Si-hwan is in no hurry

“I will think about it once I become the best in Korea.”

This year, Noh Si-hwan (23, Hanwha Eagles) had his best season. In the 2023 KBO League regular season, he recorded a batting average of 0.298, 31 home runs, and 101 RBIs, winning two crowns. He became the only hitter in the league to hit 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.

He also played an active role as the number 4 hitter in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) and the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), which advocated a generational change. He emerged as a key hitter for the national team, recording a batting average of 0.412 in both competitions. He is likely to win the third baseman category at the Golden Glove Awards held next month. It was a year in which he grew into a leading hitter in the league, both in name and reality.

After becoming the best hitter, he failed to win the MVP (Most Valuable Player) award at the KBO Awards Ceremony on the 27th, losing out to Eric Peddie (NC Dinos). Peddie, who won three awards as a pitcher (20 wins, ERA 2.00, 209 strikeouts), was the first pitcher to win 20 games and strike out 200 times since Dong-yeol Dong-yeol in 1986. He couldn't beat the 'historic' pitcher.

Noh Si-hwan was calm. He knew that his young self still had another chance. Instead of regret, he expressed confidence in the future. Noh Si-hwan said, "I was also mentioned as a candidate for MVP this season, but Peddie did very well. It is natural for him to receive the award," and added, "I will prepare better next season so that I can aim for MVP, which is the greatest honor."

Although he did not mention specific numbers, he pledged to ‘evolve’. Noh Si-hwan said, "Honestly, I can't guarantee the number of home runs next season. I don't know when a home run will come out or when another home run will hit," but added, "I will go one step further than this year. I will come back prepared to become a more scary hitter (to pitchers)." “I am confident in that,” he pledged.

He showed that it was different from the very beginning. Until Noh Si-hwan, the only batters under the age of 23 to hit 30 home runs in KBO League history were Jang Jong-hoon (1991), Park Jae-hong (1996), Lee Seung-yeop (1997-1999), and Kim Tae-gyun (2003). All four players exceeded the 300 home run mark in the KBO League, and Lee Seung-yeop and Kim Tae-gyun advanced to the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).

It is a time when Roh Si-hwan can also dream of big dreams of expanding overseas. There is a lot of time left before he can apply for the posting system (private competitive bidding) or free agency. However, he first showed his top skills at a young age. Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes), who was the best hitter in the KBO League last year, is set to advance to the Major League Baseball (MLB) through the posting system this winter. Noh Si-hwan's talent, who has grown into an MVP candidate, is not far behind.

hwan earlier this year, "He is a player with much greater potential than fans' expectations or what he has shown so far. I hope he will not be complacent and look to higher places (major league)." “I cheered. Next, Japanese coach Hirokazu Ibata, who met as the enemy team at the APBC, praised him, saying, "Korea's No. 4 hitter, Noh Si-hwan, showed sharp batting ability. I think he will be a top-class player even if he comes to Japan."

However, Noh Si-hwan said he would first become the best in the KBO league. He decided not to rush because he had plenty of time to grow and think about it further. He smiled and said, "The coach of the Japanese national team gave me a good evaluation," but added, "Once I become the best in Korea, I want to think about going overseas. To be honest, I'm not thinking about going overseas yet."
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Thursday, November 30, 2023

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