They are slowing down after losing 6 times in a row. But the Pittsburgh Pirates are still challenging history. Can Bae Ji-hwan play a role at the center?
Pittsburgh lost 2-8 in the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on the 7th (hereinafter Korean time) and fell into a pit of six consecutive losses. However, Pittsburgh is still in first place in the National League Central Division with 20-14. The second-place Milwaukee Brewers are also on a six-game losing streak, so their ranking is maintained.
Pittsburgh has not been able to get out of the last ten thousand years lately. Last year, it recorded 62 wins and 100 losses, and 2021 was also 61 wins and 101 losses. 100 losses for two years in a row. It was at the bottom of the Central District for 4 consecutive years from 2019 and failed to advance to the postseason for 7 consecutive years from 2016.
The last time they entered the postseason was in 2015 (98 wins and 64 losses), and they advanced to the wild card game as the 2nd place in the district. However, they lost to the Chicago Cubs, who ranked 3rd in the district (97-65). At this time, at the center of Pittsburgh was Jung-ho Kang (retired). Kang Jung-ho successfully debuted in the major leagues with a batting average of .287 (121 hits in 421 bats), 15 homers, 58 RBIs, and an OPS of .816 in 126 games. However, at the end of the regular season, he was out of season due to a shin bone fracture and knee ligament rupture injury caused by an opponent’s radical second base tackle.
This year, Pittsburgh has a fierce pace at the beginning of the season. This year, he is actively playing baseball by taking advantage of the more lenient rules for runners. The team has 45 stolen bases, which is first in the major leagues. The team’s ERA is also decent at 3.61. Relatively, the harmony of Tuta fits well. In a situation where Onenelly Cruz and Choi Ji-man are out for a long time due to injuries, Pittsburgh is showing off its potential.
There have been 87 cases of losing 100 games since 1961, when the system was switched from 154 to 162 games. Pittsburgh also emerged without falling into the history of humiliation. Among them, there were only 11 cases where the winning rate was higher than 50% the following year. The most recent was last year’s Baltimore Orioles. The team that recorded 52 wins and 110 losses in 2021 even recorded a record of 83 wins and 79 losses last year.
However, if the case is narrowed down to advancing to the postseason the year after the 100-loss season, the number is reduced from 11 to 1. In other words, it is only a 1 in 87, or 1.15% chance. It was the only time the Minnesota Twins went 59-103 in 2017 and advanced to the wild card game in 2018 with 85-77.
Pittsburgh, which is currently ranked first in the National League Central District, is challenging the history of 1.15%. Although currently losing six games in a row, the fact that it is still number one in the district means that Pittsburgh is following its luck.
Bae Ji-hwan also plays a significant role in Pittsburgh’s rapid progress. This year, in 23 games, he had a batting average of .244 (22 hits in 90 at-bats), 2 homers, 9 RBIs, 17 runs scored, 14 stolen bases, and an OPS of .639. He is a utility player and assault 안전놀이터 captain who moves between second base, shortstop, and center field. It is no exaggeration to say that Bae Ji-hwan is at the center of Pittsburgh’s baseball this year.
In the game against Toronto on the 6th, he was criticized by the local media for his reckless base play. The local press, which was highly praised, also pointed out Bae Ji-hwan’s unreasonable running base play on this day. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that he is playing the role of an energizer for the current team with an explosive speed of 29.4 feet (8.96 m) per second, which is in the top 4% of the major leagues.
However, the exit velocity (86.9 miles), which is in the bottom 24%, the percentage of barrel batted balls (2.9%), which is in the bottom 13%, and the defense power, which is in the bottom rank, are potential insecurity factors that threaten Bae Ji-hwan’s position.
Will Pittsburgh be able to make a season of historic turnaround? And what role does Bae Ji-hwan play at the center? This is why we must watch Pittsburgh and Bae Ji-hwan to the end.