Choi Jeong-jeong activated the home run gun in back-to-back at-bats in the Samsung Lions’ sixth game of the season at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on Monday.
Choi led off the third inning with a 5-0 lead and took a five-pitch 132-kilometer slider from Samsung starter Yang Chang-seop over the center field fence for his ninth home run of the season, then came back in the fourth inning to hit the same 132-kilometer slider for his 10th home run of the season, this time over the left field fence. It was the 24th home run of his career and the 18th consecutive season in which he has hit 10 or more home runs, including every single year from 2006 to this year. This is, of course, a KBO record.
However, this is not the first time Choi has hit double-digit home runs in consecutive seasons.
On May 18, 2021, in the seventh inning of the Gwangju KIA game, Choi hit a leadoff home run to left-center off Yoon Jung-hyun, setting a new KBO record in this category for the 16th consecutive season and extending it for two more seasons.
Choi is followed by Choi Hyung-woo (KIA Tigers), who has held the record for 15 consecutive seasons since 2008 and needs five more home runs this year to reach 16. Previously, Jang Jong-hoon hit double-digit home runs in 15 consecutive seasons with the Hanwha Eagles (including ex-Binggrae) from 1988-2002 and Yang Jun-hyuk hit double-digit home runs in 15 consecutive seasons from 1993-2007 with Samsung-Haetae-LG-Samsung.
Choi is 36 years old this year. In some ways, this is the age at which the aging curve begins, but considering the number of seniors who are still performing well in the field after passing the threshold, he can continue to play for another four to five years unless he is injured.
Pitchers who have made it past their prime include Oh Seung-hwan (Samsung Lions), and batters include teammates and seniors Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min. They are all 41 years old. Add to that Goh Hyo-joon (SSG), who is still going strong at the top of the order, and Choi Hyung-woo, KIA’s No. 4 hitter, who is 39, and Noh Kyung-eun (SSG), who currently leads the division with 13 holes in hand, is 38.
With that in mind, it’s hard to see how Choi’s streak of double-digit home runs in consecutive seasons will continue.
Choi Jung is congratulated by his teammates after becoming the youngest player to hit 10 home runs in 18 consecutive seasons and reach 1,400 RBIs [Photo: SSG Landers].
That’s not all. He is also on track to set new KBO milestones in career home runs and RBIs.
Choi extended his career home run total to 439 with the blast. He is 28 home runs shy of Lee Seung-yeop’s 467 career home runs. Of course, if you include Lee’s 159 home runs in Nippon Professional Baseball over an eight-year span from 2004 to 2011, it’s hard to surpass, but it’s within reach if you’re only looking at the KBO.
Even if it’s difficult this season, by the middle of next season, Lee could surpass Lee as the KBO’s top home run hitter.
RBIs are also within reach.
Choi also became the youngest player to reach 1,400 RBIs. He was 36 years, 3 months, and 4 days old. He surpassed Choi Hyung-woo’s record of 1,400 hits set on May 7 last year against Daejeon Hanwha at 38 years, 4 months, and 21 days. It ranks fourth all-time.
In terms of RBIs, Choi is behind Lee Seung-yeop with 1498, Choi Hyung-woo with 1488, and Lee Dae-ho (formerly of Lotte) with 1425. Of these, Choi Hyung-woo, who is still active, needs just 11 more RBIs to become the all-time leader. Choi signed a second free agent contract with KIA in the 2021 season for a total of 3 years and 4.7 billion won. His contract expires this season.메이저사이트
It’s unclear how many more years Choi will be able to extend his career by signing a third free agent contract, but at three years younger than Choi, there’s plenty of opportunity to surpass him.
Choi has surpassed 100 RBIs in a season three times and is tied for fifth on the list with Chae Eun-sung (Hanwha Eagles) with 33 in 47 games this year. At this rate, a fourth 100-RBI season is not out of the question. Even if he doesn’t, he shouldn’t have much trouble surpassing Lee’s record by the mid-to-late part of next season.
One by one, the home run and RBI records that seemed to be immortalized are being shattered and a new legend is being born.