Monday May 29, 2023

Blessings to these wonderful players! 2023 Korean Big League Preview

The major leagues are coming before the afterglow of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) disappears. On the 31st, Korean time, 15 stadiums will start the season at the same time.

This season, the challenge of Korean players continues. Kim Ha-seong of the San Diego Padres, who showed his growth last season, will start the season as the team’s main second baseman.

Choi Ji-man, who transferred from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Pittsburgh Pirates, starts the season with a new team, while his teammate Bae Ji-hwan also runs with the goal of settling in the big leagues.

Ryu Hyun-jin, who underwent Tommy John surgery in June of last year, is focusing on rehabilitation with the goal of the second half. He will try to show his strength ahead of the expiry of his four-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays. 안전놀이터

Ha-seong Kim of the San Diego Padres had a draining experience last winter. Last season, when Fernando Tatis Jr. left, he got a chance at the starting shortstop position and was nominated for the Gold Glove final, solidifying his position as the starting shortstop. gave and brought

Other top free agents, such as Trey Turner and outfielder Aaron Judge, who can handle both second base and shortstop, were also interested, but the hitter brought in was Bogarts, who had only played shortstop so far. He was naturally pushed to second base.

After advancing to the Championship Series last season and learning the ‘sweetness of fall baseball’, San Diego reinforced its aggressive power. It has become a team full of long-term contracts. Ha-seong Kim’s contract, which expires next year, looks frugal.

It’s unfortunate, but what happened last year is already in the past. San Diego is a team that wants to win right away and will demand constant competition from their players.

At the top, long-term contracts are holding on, and at the bottom, prospects including Jackson Merrill will rise. It is the most painful ‘cracked generation’. Of course, ‘nothing can’t happen’, as evidenced by Tatis kicking the starting shortstop himself for unexpected actions, but competition seems inevitable. A trade could free them up, but that’s for later. After all, it’s good when you trade well.

Kim Ha-seong is also well aware of this. He said, “Our team said the goal was to send good players to the ground. In the end, I think I can win the main competition if I do well.”

The defense was appreciated. Now it’s time to work harder on hitting. It’s true that last season’s OPS+ of 107 has grown compared to the 2021 season, when it was only 73, but in a big way, it’s now just reaching the league average level. In order to go thicker and longer on the stage of the major leagues, the blow must eventually be supported. In particular, his performance against right-handers (0.243/0.304/0.377) needs to improve. This is because there is a risk of being trapped in the walls of Platoon.

Although he had a lot of time away from joining the national team, he managed 30 at-bats in 10 games. There is no big difference compared to last season, when he played 36 at-bats in 13 games. Since I have been to the WBC, there will be no problems with preparation for the tournament.

The failure in Tokyo may have been another stimulus for him. After finishing the WBC, he left the words on his Instagram, “I believe that the pain that not only me but all the players suffered through this tournament will make us stronger and this tournament will serve as a stepping stone for further growth.”

Choi Ji-man is a good left-handed hitter. He had a career batting average of 0.247, on-base percentage of 0.356, and slugging percentage of 0.454 against right-handed pitchers in the major leagues. He is not a hitter who hits many home runs, but he is a ‘gap hitter’ who produces long hits by hitting quality balls based on a good pitching plan. It has been verified through years of major league life.

There is only one thing that stands in the way of him, an injury. For the past two years, Choi Ji-man has struggled with injuries. In the 2021 season, he only played in 83 games due to ongoing lower body injuries, starting with his knee. In the 2022 season, there was no case of long-term absence due to injury, but pain in his right elbow plagued him. He was the biggest contributor to sending the first half (0.278/0.385/0.449) and completely different second half (0.164/0.272/0.293).

Eventually, he underwent surgery to remove a bone fragment that was the cause of pain in his right elbow after the end of last season. The operation forced him to give up his dream of competing in the World Baseball Classic (WBC). He expressed regret by saying, “I feel very disappointed and frustrated.”

That regret will have to be brushed off in the season. This season is an important year for him. After the season, he becomes a free agent. This is his last chance to raise his self-worth. Considering that he has had a difficult time with injuries in the past two years, his performance is desperately needed this season.

In his exhibition game, he digested 39 at-bats in 13 games. It was the most at-bats since digesting 52 at-bats in 2019. That’s a positive sign, given that his pace has slowed down a bit in the aftermath of his elbow surgery. This is because it means that he spent the camp in good health.

If you can keep that health throughout the season, you will be able to show a productive look like you showed in the first half of last season. The ‘no-shift’ clause, which requires two infielders on each side of the second base base, is likely to work in favor of him as a left-handed hitter.

For Pittsburgh, first baseman was a sore spot last year. Nine players were appointed, but none of them took the starting position. Last season, Pittsburgh first basemen’s OPS was 0.601, which was the lowest in the National League.

This season, he will share the first base and designated hitter positions with Carlos Santana. Since Santana is 36 years old as of the opening day, Choi Ji-man is likely to defend first base more often. Another player who could threaten the first base position is utility player Conor Joe. Although the position is different, Canan Smith-Njigba, who won the backup outfielder competition with a batting average of 0.326, 2 home runs and 11 RBIs in this demonstration game, may threaten Choi’s position as a left-handed hitter if this growth trend continues in the future.

Bae Ji-hwan, who was called up to the big league last season and showed good performances with a batting average of 0.333, an on-base percentage of 0.405 and a slugging percentage of 0.424 in 10 games, overcame the competition at the camp. He is 11-for-45 with only one double and two walks with 11 strikeouts. He may have been a bit concerned about grades, but it wasn’t the case when you look at the content. Using his quick feet, his specialty, he made infield hits and attempted 4 stolen bases, all of which were successful.

The major leagues introduced a pitch clock that limits pitch preparation time to increase game speed this season, and also limited the number of checks. He is limited to two per at-bat, and a balk is declared if he fails to catch an out on subsequent throws. The stock price of fast-footed hitters like Bae Ji-hwan has risen.

Bae Ji-hwan earned additional points by showing good defensive skills at second base and center field. He will most likely play primarily at these two positions during the season as well. He shares the second base spot with Rodolphe Castro at second base, and is expected to play in center field as well.

Manager Derek Shelton said, “Both Castro and Bae Ji-hwan will play at second base. We haven’t discussed exactly how to divide it yet. Some will be decided by the matchup, and in some cases Bae Ji-hwan will go outfield,” he said, predicting that both players would have a chance at second base.

It is true that joining the opening roster in a situation where he has not firmly established himself is somewhat of a concern. This is because it may happen that you do not get a proper opportunity and lose the sense of the game while hovering around as a backup and runner-up agent. Pittsburgh is a team that has secured a promising player base through years of rebuilding. If they do not see even the slightest possibility, they will fold the board without regret.

Talent recognized. What is needed is a steady opportunity. If opportunities are given consistently, a soft landing in the big leagues will not be difficult.

Ryu Hyun-jin’s goal for the 2023 season is not difficult. a successful comeback He underwent Tommy John surgery last year and is currently focusing on rehabilitation with the goal of returning in July. He will continue his rehabilitation at the club’s training facility in Dunedin, Florida, USA.

A difficult road ahead lies ahead. If you look at the examples of other players, it is. Tommy John surgery is said to have a relatively good prognosis, but not everyone has a successful comeback. In the case of players returning during the season, most of them struggle.

Ryu Hyun-jin already had a similar experience. After shoulder surgery in 2015, he tried to come back the following year, but it didn’t go as planned. He spent a full season in 2017 and tried to regain his old form, and it was not until 2018 and 2019 that he was able to become a powerful pitcher again.

If there is a difference from then, if at the time the club had enough contracts left to wait patiently, this time the contract with Toronto expires after the 2023 season. There is a possibility that he will be thrown into the free agency market with a question mark after the season.

And that’s not all. I’m older than I was then, and moreover, this is my second Tommy John surgery. It’s not an easy situation.

Nevertheless, he is sweating hard to come back to the mound. In the 2023 season, Ryu Hyun-jin will throw the ball anywhere. Whether it will be Dunedin, Buffalo or Toronto, no one knows yet.

For Toronto, he is a ‘wild card’. They have already completed the composition of the starting lineup for the 2023 season, based on the premise that there is no Ryu Hyun-jin. However, it is close to impossible to play a long season with only them. If you just come back, the door of opportunity will open. He is a player who deserves such treatment.

Success or not, as one of the brightest pitchers in Korean baseball history, his journey to comeback deserves applause.


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