KIA’s team batting average in 2021 was 0.248, ranking ninth in the league, below the league average (.260). It didn’t even fit well, but I couldn’t hit it far more. KIA had only 66 team home runs in all of 2021. As a result, the team’s OPS (on-base plus slugging) was 0.673, the lowest in the league.
I couldn’t stand still. It moved to “two tracks.” It took time to develop the big guns. I needed a player to use right away. Just in time, there was an optimal sale in the free agent (FA) market. It was Na Sung-bum (34), a left-handed hitter who represents the league. He had a career batting average of .300 in the KBO League, recorded 34 home runs in 2020, three times in 30 home run seasons alone, and seven times in more than 20 home runs. He was a batter with both accuracy and slugging power.
The club enthusiastically supported the scene. There was money. I screamed without hesitation. KIA uniforms were worn for a total of 15 billion won (12 billion won in guarantees and 3 billion won in options) for six years. For now, he has secured a player who will immediately take the weight from the center line. Kia, however, should not have finished with this. Na Sung-beom was in his late 30s at the end of his six-year contract. It was clear that the record would gradually fall. It was necessary to foster a big gun to succeed Na Sung-beom. 토토사이트
So since last year, KIA has been paying attention to players who can “hit far away” with Hwang Dae-in and Kim Seok-hwan. Especially the right-handed big gun options. Ahead of this season, he even recruited Byun Woo-hyuk, a right-handed big gun resource, through a trade with Hanwha. As such, fostering big guns has been Kia’s long-cherished dream.
As of Sept. 20, Kia has neither. Na Sung-bum, who only started the season on June 23 due to a left calf injury this year, collapsed again. This time it’s a right hamstring. He was injured during the eighth inning against LG in Gwangju on the 19th. I didn’t think it was such a big injury until it was replaced, but when I was examined, I was diagnosed with hamstring damage. Rehabilitation alone takes 10 to 12 weeks. Most teams tend to have enough time to leave. But at best, this is a season out.
Na Sung-beom, who entered the batter’s box in the eighth inning with no outs and runners on second and third bases, gave the team an additional point by hitting a timely hit to the right-center. They were fast runners (Choi Won-jun and Kim Do-young) on the ground, so it was enough to enter the home ground. Later, Na Sung-bum, who went to second base with a wild pitch during Choi Hyung-woo’s at-bat, started running toward third base when Kim Sun-bin flew to right field. He entered the third base with a sliding, not a sufficient situation, and immediately felt something wrong. He was replaced by Lee Woo-sung as a pinch runner. This became the last scene of Na Sung-bum this year.
Na Sung-bum has not been healthy this year. However, he proved to be still the best hitter in the league as long as he was healthy. He hit 18 home runs in 58 games this season. This was not much different from the number of home runs (21) in 144 games last year. Although he was far short of the standard at-bat, he still played 253 at-bats and his batting average was very high at 0.365. The OPS is 1.098. KIA manager Kim Jong-kook’s words on the 19th, “If I had played the season from the beginning, it would have been MVP pace,” are not a lie.
With Na Sung-beom down, all the mid- to long-distance resources that gave him a chance to see the future are also sluggish. Hwang Dae-in earned 194 at-bats and Byun Woo-hyuk 175. However, the total number of home runs hit by the two players was 11 (five Hwang Dae-in and six Byun Woo-hyuk), which did not meet expectations. Hwang Dae-in’s batting average fell to 0.219 this year. It wasn’t a performance that deserved the opportunity to play consistently. Byun Woo-hyuk also didn’t have a good batting average and struck out a lot. It was not an easy environment for a player, such as falling into the starting lineup, going to the second division, and coming back to the first division if he failed once.
Kim Seok-hwan, a heavy left-handed catcher, played only four games in the first division this year. He hit 0.302 with 18 home runs in 76 Futures League games, but is less used in the first division. In the end, neither Hwang Dae-in, Byun Woo-hyuk, nor Kim Seok-hwan achieved a significant “step-up” this year. Na Sung-bum, who played only 58 games, tied for second place with the unsuspecting veteran Choi Hyung-woo and foreign hitter Socrates Brito (17.). The key for Socrates is to renew his contract right now, and Choi Hyung-woo is not a resource for three to four years from now. The rest don’t have any double-digit home run hitters.
With Na Sung-bum missing, it is no exaggeration to say that KIA’s batting power has just gone back to two years ago. Although Park Chan-ho and Kim Do-young’s growth is possible, he is not a player who can lead the team’s long-distance shots. There is no alternative. We have to play with the players we have now. This is why KIA’s batters are expected to struggle for the rest of the season. Na Sung-bum’s shot, which can change the stream of the game, will be missed.
Coach Kim is counting on the three outfielders who fought hard at the time when Na Sung-bum was missing in the first half. Right-handed hitters Lee Woo-sung and Lee Chang-jin, and left-handed hitter Ko Jong-wook are the main characters. Coach Kim expected, “I think players like Lee Woo-sung, Ko Jong-wook and Lee Chang-jin, who I’ve done before, will fill the gap as much as possible.” Lee Woo-sung had a batting average of 0.296 and an OPS of 0.788 in 102 games this year. Lee Chang-jin played well in 81 games with a batting average of 0.280 and an OPS of 0.762, and Ko Jong-wook was a substitute specialist.
On top of that, outfielder Kim Ho-hyung, who has good defense, will join the entry around the 22nd. However, head coach Kim also expressed his concern, saying, “I think we need to deploy a new center hitter, and I’m thinking that the overall long-distance power will decrease a little.”