“We need a first baseman…”.
One of the reasons for the KIA Tigers’ elimination in the semifinals was the absence of a first baseman with slugging power. Kim Joo-chan, who led the championship in 2017, entered the aging curve and there was no built-in first baseman after his retirement. This year, as Hwang Dae-in’s slump deepened, several players wore first base mitts, but no player showed consistency. It’s a new homework.
In fact, a new character has appeared since the middle of the 2021 season. Young slugger Hwang Dae-in has begun to blossom as a first baseman. In the 2022 season, he hit a career high of .205, 8 ERA, 14 home runs, 91 RBI, and an OPS of 0.716. It seemed like a new starter had finally appeared. This year, as a built-in first baseman, it was expected that he would hit more than 20 home runs and up to 100 RBIs.
However, he only appeared in 60 games. In 199 plate appearances, he had a poor performance of .201, 3 runs, 5 home runs, 26 RBI, and an OPS of 0.617. Injuries and sluggishness overlapped. As Hwang Dae-in fell into a slump from the opening game, first baseman was in a critical position. Byun Woo-hyuk and Ryu Ji-hyuk, who were acquired through trade after last year’s season, played first base.
Still, when the first baseman was not satisfied, manager Kim Jong-guk hired outfielder Choi Won-jun, who was discharged from Sangmu, as a first baseman to utilize it. He requested in advance to train and play first base at Sangmu. However, Wonjun Choi was unable to properly prepare for the season at Sangmu due to shoulder pain. He played first base, but his batting was poor and his defense made mistakes, so he returned to the outfield.
Manager Kim hired Byun Woo-hyuk as an alternative first baseman. He gained valuable experience by going over 200 plate appearances for the first time in 83 games, the most since his debut. He played 55 games and 358 innings as a first baseman. He left homework in batting. He hit just .200 with 5 runs, 7 home runs, 24 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.664. In the end, Dae-in Hwang and Woo-hyuk Byun were unable to secure their positions, so it ended up being a test for first basemen all year long.
First base has emerged as the biggest task among the 2024 season power plans. In order to challenge for the top spot next year, a solid first baseman with slugging power is needed. The best scenario is Hwang Dae-in’s rebound and Byun Woo-hyuk’s growth. It is still a variable, not a constant with certainty. So, they are even considering recruiting a foreign first baseman with long hits.
There is a possibility of recruiting a foreign first baseman. The plan is to bring in a new power first baseman in place of outfielder Socrates, who has posted decent results for two consecutive years. However, it is a venture that does not have a high probability of success. General Manager Shim Jae-hak also said, “The foreign hitter we need right now is a first baseman, but even if we bring in a new player, the probability of success is low. It’s not easy to find a hitter as good as Socrates.”
Another thing is recruiting external free agents. There is one clear first baseman coming out of this free agent market. This is Yang Seok-hwan of the Doosan Bears. This year, he hit .285, 21 home runs, 89 RBI, and an OPS of 0.787. In the last five seasons, he has hit 20 or more home runs four times and has the ability to hit an RBI. If you come to KIA, the batting lineup will also become stronger.토토사이트
However, the issue of exceeding the annual salary cap is at stake. In particular, there is the issue of a significant decrease in the range of appointments for Byun Woo-hyuk, Hwang Dae-in, and Kim Seok-hwan, which is a troubling issue. The club begins final training and begins planning for next year. The issue of reinforcing first basemen is also expected to be decided while keeping all possibilities open. I am curious about what solution Director Shim Jae-hak and Director Kim Jong-guk will find.