Kim Ha-seong and Roh Si-hwan, just two of them… ’30 home runs’ a KBO blessing in an era of severe batting drought

The first 30-homer hitter born in 2000 was Noh Si-hwan (23, Korea). Even if you include those born in 1990, there are only two Korean batters with more than 30 home runs: Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego) and Noh Shi-hwan.

Noh blasted his 30th home run of the season on April 2 against LG in Jamsil. He took a two-pitch fastball from LG reliever Yoo Young-chan over the left-center field wall in the sixth inning. He reached the 30-homer plateau 14 days and eight games after his 29th home run against KT in Daejeon on March 19.

Noh became the sixth player under the age of 23 to hit 30 home runs after Jang Jong-hoon of Binggrae in 1991 (then 23), Kim Ki-tae of Ssangbangul in 1993 (then 23), Park Jae-hong of Hyundai in 1996 (then 23), Lee Seung-yeop of Samsung in 1997-1999 (then 21-23), and Kim Tae-gyun in 2003 (then 21).

After his first 30-homer season in his fifth year, Noh said after the game, “It feels good to be the first. I think 30 home runs is a symbol of Geopo. I want to be a hitter who can consistently hit 30 home runs in the future.”

By becoming the first player born in the 2000s to reach the 30-homer mark, Noh extended his lead over the second-best player in the category (24 SSGs) to six. While a two-week hiatus due to his participation in the Hangzhou Asian Games will be a factor, he is on pace to become the third-youngest home run king in KBO history, following Samsung’s Lee Seung-yeop (21) in 1997 and Binggrae’s Jang Jong-hoon (22) in 1990.

Noh’s 30 homers are a blessing in disguise for the entire league, as they represent the explosion of potential that Korean baseball has been looking for in its young sluggers. Jang Jong-hoon, Lee Seung-yeop, Lee Dae-ho, Park Byung-ho, and others who have won the home run title more than once have done so while still in their early to mid-20s, and Noh is beginning to follow in their footsteps.

Korean baseball has suffered from a long drought of sluggers. Kim Ha-sung is the only other player born in the 1990s to hit 30 home runs, excluding foreigners. Kim, born in 1995, hit 30 home runs at the age of 25 for Kiwoom in 2020. Kang Baek-ho (KT), born in 1999, hit 29 homers in 2018, Yang Suk-hwan (Doosan), born in 1991, hit 28 in 2021, and Kim Dong-yeop (Samsung), born in 1990, hit 27 in 2018 but failed to reach 30.

In other words, Korean baseball’s slugger drought has been severe for a long time, with only Kim Ha-seong and Noh Si-hwan having hit more than 30 home runs since 1990. In addition to Kim, only 11 other batters born in the 1990s have hit more than 20 home runs in a season: Kim Dong-yeop, Chae Eun-sung, Oh Ji-hwan, Ahn Chi-hong, Park Dong-won, Park Geon-woo, 1991, Yang Seok-hwan, 1993, Koo Ja-uk, 1998, Lee Jung-hoo, and Kang Baek-ho, 1999. The next player in his 20s to hit more home runs than Noh this season is Lee Jae-hyun, born in 2003, but he has only 10. Noh’s presence is overwhelming.안전놀이터

Since he switched from aluminum bats to wooden bats in 2004, in line with the international trend, his batting average has dropped significantly. The low-rebound wooden bats favored contact over long balls, encouraging finesse and quickness, which led to a surge in right-handed hitting. As the years went by, the crop of power prospects dried up. The few big-league prospects that remained didn’t blossom in the pros. As they were chasing immediate results, they couldn’t afford to wait for their development in the field.

“I’ve been a big guy since I was a kid, and I never had a chance to switch to left field,” he said. His coaches played to his strengths, and he continued to receive opportunities in the pros. Hanwha, which has been rebuilding for several years, has kept Noh in center field in and out of the lineup. After hitting 12 home runs in his second year and 18 in his third, Noh slowed down to six last year, but he quickly broke through to 30 this year, making him one of the best sluggers in the league.

The flower of baseball is said to be the home run, but the absence of a big bat is bad news for the league’s box office. In such a situation, Noh Si-hwan became the first person born in the 2000s to hit 30 home runs, quenching the long-standing thirst of Korean baseball. It could be an opportunity to present a new paradigm for the KBO.

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