‘A fish must play in big water,’ they say. ‘Grandson of the Wind’ Lee Jung-hoo is finally ready to take off beyond his father.
On Nov. 13 (KST), US sports media outlets broke the news of Lee joining the San Francisco Giants.
The record-breaking contract of up to six years and $113 million (approximately 14.83 billion won) took everyone by surprise. In terms of shock value to KBO fans, it was only surpassed by Shohei Ohtani’s 10-year, $700 million contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The timing was also good, as seniors such as Ryu Hyun-jin (free agent) and Kim Ha-seong (San Diego) proved that top KBO players can play in the major leagues.헤라카지노
It’s not just Korean players. Merrill Kelly (Arizona), Brooks Reilly (New York Mets), and other foreigners have also found success in the KBO. Eric Pedroia (Chicago White Sox) also made a spectacular return to the major leagues with 20 wins, 200K, and the Triple Crown (most wins, most strikeouts, and highest ERA) for a two-year total of $15 million.
This coincided with Ohtani’s free agency season, so teams had plenty of room in their bullpens. The impact of Ohtani’s signing of the largest contract in professional sports history (in terms of total value) has not gone unnoticed.
Lee Jung-hoo’s consistently top-notch performances since his debut in 2017 no longer led to the dismissal of the ‘fringe leagues’. Even an ankle injury that cost him the entire season did not diminish his already recognized value. San Francisco general manager Pete Putilla showed off his ‘prospect’ at Lee’s farewell game at Gocheok Dome, and the signing proved to be a success.
However, there is a nemesis in the United States who literally caught Lee Jung-hoo like a mouse at the beginning of his debut. It’s ‘Lefty’ Reilly.
Brooks Reilly during his time with Lotte. Sports Chosun DB
Reilly played in South Korea for five seasons between 2015 and 2019, including three years in the same league with Lee Jung-hoo starting in 2017.
In those three seasons, Lee faced Reilly a total of 17 times, reaching base only twice. No hits, no walks, and one strikeout. An on-base percentage of 1 for 8. In his other 15 at-bats, he struck out six times.
There’s something to be said for Lee, too. The matchup between Lee and Riley is just the first three years of his career.
It’s a monster that grows every year. It’s hard to fathom how much Raili has improved in the four years since he left South Korea. Last year, he became a “complete player,” winning four batting titles and the season MVP.
However, after Railly’s departure, Lee struggled against similarly styled Charlie Barnes (Lotte), going 4-for-20 with three walks and two strikeouts.
Will Jung-hoo be able to break the nemesis relationship, or will Railly brag to others, “I’m going to play Jung-hoo in my rookie year…”?