Pedi falls into double digits in ERA…Ahn Woo-jin injured as he seeks 200K for second straight year
Noh hits 30 homers, leads team in home runs and RBIs…Variable benches AG
Reporter Kwon Hyuk-jun = The 2023 KBO regular season is coming to a close. The regular-season Most Valuable Player (MVP) race is shifting as unexpected variables continue.
The 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League has played 108 to 124 games so far, depending on the team. With as few as 20 games and as many as 36 games left, it’s no exaggeration to say that the season has entered its final stretch.
However, the MVP race is still up in the air. To be more precise, the MVP race has been completely up in the air since last week.
One of the most likely MVP candidates was Eric Peddie (NC). Peddie has been the ace of NC’s offense this season, showing off his ‘TalKBO’ skills.
He broke the record for fewest wins in a game (12), 15 wins in a game (19), and fewest wins against all opponents in a game (15 games in the 10-team system).
Wins aren’t just about the pitcher, but it’s hard to argue with a one-run ERA. Pedi steadily maintained a 1-run ERA until the second half of the season, raising expectations for the first ‘1-run ERA in regulation innings’ in 13 years since Ryu Hyun-jin (Hanwha) in 2010.
Pedi’s role was indispensable for NC to compete in the mid-to-high division, which was classified as the lowest division before the season, so it was clear that he was the ‘MVP No. 1’.
However, Pedi’s ironclad fortress crumbled last week. On August 31st, he pitched his worst game of the season, giving up seven runs in three innings against the KIA. His ERA, which was 1.97 before that game, skyrocketed to 2.39, placing him third in the league behind Raul Alcantara (Doosan – 2.25) and Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom – 2.39).
With the scarcity of one-run ERAs and the No. 1 title gone, it’s hard to call Pedi the “No. 1 MVP.
Last week also saw the departure of another MVP candidate, Ahn Woo-jin. Ahn was diagnosed with a torn medial collateral ligament in his elbow and will undergo Tommy John surgery. It’s a major surgery that will keep him out for at least a year.
Ahn hasn’t had much luck this season, but he’s done his job. While maintaining an ERA in the low 2s, he has led the league in strikeouts (164). At this pace, he would have been the first pitcher in the league to reach 200 strikeouts in back-to-back years after last year (224), making him an MVP candidate.
However, he was ruled out for the season due to injury, effectively taking him out of the MVP race.
One MVP candidate who has emerged is Hanwha’s “divine giant” Noh Si-hwan. Noh has been on a home run tear in the second half of the season, leading the league in home runs and RBIs. Last week, he reached the 30-homer plateau for the season, fulfilling the minimum qualification for the title.안전놀이터
The catch is that his team, Hanwha, is in last place. In the history of the KBO, there have only been two instances of MVPs coming from teams that didn’t make the postseason, Son Min-han (Lotte) in 2005 and Park Byung-ho (Kiwoom) in 2012, and both times the team wasn’t in last place.
Another variable is national team appearances. Noh Si-hwan will not be able to finish the season as he has been selected for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games. In the meantime, he’ll miss out on titles like home runs and RBIs, so he’ll need to make up as much ground as possible before he’s called up.
If the current situation continues and Noh maintains his home run and RBI leads, he could be a strong MVP candidate.
Of course, the season isn’t over yet, so we’ll have to wait and see. If Pedi has a late-season surge and gets his ERA under one, that could change things once again. Other potential candidates include Doosan’s ace Alcantara and KT’s ace Ko Young-pyo.