The Tigers’ ‘No. 1 shortstop WAR’ has changed the KBO landscape… GG No. 1, will he challenge Oh Ji-hwan’s stronghold in 2024?

“Now we have reached a level where we can call it a goal.”

For ‘Tigers Express’ Park Chan-ho (28, KIA Tigers), 2022 was a year in which he opened his eyes to hitting. The average was raised to 0.272 by finally correcting the problem of his shoulder opening before impact. The bat, which had been so frustrating since his debut in 2014, was finally starting to catch fire.

However, this season, his ability to respond to each type of pitch, or in other words, his ability to attack breaking balls, has improved. While broadcasting a KIA game this season, SBS Sports commentator Lee Soon-cheol once praised Chan-ho Park for being able to attack breaking balls freely now.

According to the actual baseball statistics website Stats, Park Chan-ho’s batting average for his slider rose from 0.248 to 0.263, his curveball rose from 0.261 to 0.273, and his changeup rose from 0.229 to a whopping 0.395. Of course, the most encouraging thing is that the fastball batting average improved from 0.261 to 0.319.

In 130 games, 136 hits in 452 at-bats, batting average of 0.301, 3 home runs, 52 RBI, 73 runs, slugging percentage of 0.378, on-base percentage of 0.356, OPS of 0.374. He even hit .355 in scoring position. He thought last year was a career high, but he set another career high this season.

It was painful to not be able to help KIA, who were fighting for the top 5 due to a finger injury and ulna comminuted fracture at the end of the season. In the case of the finger injury, it was injured while sliding headfirst to first base after hitting a deep ball in the 3rd period of the game against Samsung in Daegu on September 12th. It was an injury that took precedence over motivation. Of course, this was also probably for the sake of the team. Crucially, the ulna fracture was 100% unlucky.

There is no need to explain Park Chan-ho’s defensive power and main power any further. There was a time when he was evaluated as having only flashy plays, but he has now been reborn as a shortstop who is both stable and flashy. He is 5th in the league and 2nd among shortstops with a WAA of 0.986 this season (1.623 behind Hanwha Lee Do-yoon). He is a strong candidate for the new defensive award this year.

Based on Stats, he ranks 22nd in the league and first among shortstops with WAR 4.14. He edged out second-place shortstop Oh Ji-hwan (4.11) by a narrow margin. With this level of performance and numbers, it is not unreasonable to say that he is the top pick for this year’s Golden Gloves. There is a possibility that Chan-ho Park’s dream that he has had for a long time will come true this year. This season, Chan-Ho Park was better than any other shortstop in the league.

In fact, Chan-Ho Park is a player with many dreams. He is running with a sense of purpose. If he wins his first Golden Glove this year, his next target will naturally be the title of KBO’s best shortstop. However, there are still many people in the field who say that Oh Ji-hwan is the number one shortstop if you sum up his shortstop abilities. This is because it is not simply evaluated based on 1-2 years of performance.먹튀검증

However, Chan-ho Park’s continued growth is welcome in terms of the competitiveness and box office success of the KBO League. It can also provide a healthy sense of tension to Oh Ji-hwan. Although the 2023 season was halted due to injury, Chan-Ho Park had a good enough season and deserves recognition. It opens up the possibility of changing the landscape of shortstops in the KBO League in the future. 

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