Monday Sep 25, 2023

KIA’s tiny Keystone disbanded 3 years ago, another prospective free agent…Kim Sun-bin, Ahn Chi-hong ‘still there’

Time flies. It’s been three years since Kia dismantled ‘Little Keystone’. They are now playing the 2023 season as reserve free agents again.

Kim Sun-bin (34, KIA) and Ahn Chi-hong (33, Lotte) made their KIA debuts in 2008 and 2009, side by side. They were the young keystone duo of the 2010s, helping KIA win the regular season and Korean Series titles in 2009 and 2017. They were national-level center fielders who could play both offense and defense.

They parted ways before the 2020 season. Ahn Chi-hong chose to join Lotte on a 2+2 year, 5.6 billion won contract. Kim Sun-bin chose to stay with KIA for 4 years and 4 billion won. Ahn is a year younger and received a bigger contract when he moved. Instead, Kim secured a steady four-year deal, setting him up for a long run.

Looking back over the past four years, the two have lived up to their names. In 71 games this season, Kim is batting .299 with 72 hits in 241 at-bats, 28 RBIs, 22 runs scored, and a .710 OPS. He hasn’t hit a home run and has been plagued by injuries, big and small. However, his fractured thumb at the end of the first half was a fluke injury (he was hit by a pitch from NC’s Jason Martin), and this hamstring injury should allow him to return next week.

Over the last four years, he’s hit .330, .307, .287, and .299. When he’s healthy, he’s capable of hitting between 6 and 70+ RBI and an OPS between 0.7 and 0.8. Injuries plagued him in his first and second seasons, but his hitting mechanics are still there, including his signature pushing ability. Some say his defensive range has diminished, but he’s still compliant and seasoned. His immediate injury absence will make him a force in the offense.

In 89 games this season, Ahn is batting .299 with 94 hits in 314 at-bats, five home runs, 47 RBI, 37 runs scored, a .767 OPS, and a .358 slugging percentage. He’s been especially hot in his last 10 games, batting .471 with two home runs, nine RBIs and six runs scored. He leads the way with other veterans at a time when Lotte is trying to squeeze into the best-of-five series.

Over the past four years, he’s hit .286, .306, .284, and .299. He’s shown that he’s capable of 10 homers, 7-80 RBI, and an OPS of 0.7-0.8. He’s also been injury-free this season. With Lee Dae-ho retiring, Jeon Jun-woo and Jeong Hoon are the leaders of the batting order.

Both are looking at their early to mid to late 30s. The 4-5 billion won contracts they received three years ago may not be easy to come by. However, they have shown enough to deserve another three-year contract.메이저사이트

Currently, the best second baseman in the KBO is Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom). The two are the next best. They’re both center fielders who can also play offense, so they’ll be well-regarded. They are the leaders of their respective infields and will eventually compete for the final spot in the top five. It’s a mixed bag of results for the team’s farming season before free agency. It’s unfortunate that they won’t be going head-to-head in the first game of a three-game series this weekend.


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