Samsung Lions outfielder Koo Ja-rook is aiming to become the first batsman to win a batting title in 12 years.
As the heat wave sweeps across the country, Koo’s summer bat is heating up. Koo is batting .337 this season, the highest average of any KBO player in regulation. His batting average in the second half of the season is .443. His hitting hasn’t slowed down.
He is only five points behind the second-place Guillermo Ereia (SSG Landers) at 0.332. He’s batting .452 in his last 10 games, and if he keeps up his pace, he’ll be able to consolidate the top spot. This is Guzauk’s first attempt at the batting title in his 12-year professional career.
After joining Samsung in 2012 and establishing himself as a mainstay in 2015, Koo hit .349 in his rookie season. Immediately, he was touted as the future of Samsung, with many expecting him to be the “post-Seung-yup” following the retirement of “Lion King” Lee Seung-yup.
However, Koo has since plateaued. He consistently hit in the high double digits and low triple digits, but he wasn’t dominating the league. Nor did he win a title. In 2021, he was the top scorer (107 points) for the first and last time. The following year, in 2022, he signed a five-year, maximum 12 billion won contract as a non-free agent and became the league’s highest paid player (2 billion won in 2023), but injuries and poor play prevented him from living up to his billing.
The desperate Guzauk made a bloody effort last winter. Feeling the need to strengthen his fundamentals, he volunteered to participate in a finishing camp for rookie-level players and endured intense training without complaint. “There is no right answer in baseball. I thought I had to keep trying different things and find what works for me,” he says of his decision.
The hard work paid off, and Guzauk has been tearing up the league this season. He says he’s found confidence by letting go of greed. “I used to stress about home runs, but I don’t anymore. Instead, I try to hit accurately,” he said. Getting rid of home run greed also freed him from the pressure of being the “post Lee Seung-yeop” that had followed him throughout his career. He said, “You can hit two doubles. I think two doubles are home runs, and I’m focusing on making contact,” he said.
The batting title is within reach. “I don’t have any personal goals this season,” Guzauk said. “The team’s rebound is my priority,” he said, emphasizing his unselfish attitude.안전놀이터
What’s clear is that as Guzauk has come back to life, so has Samsung. Since July, when Koo returned from injury (left hamstring), the team has been on a roll, maintaining a 5 percent win rate (13 W, 12 L, 1 D). It’s a far cry from June, when the team was struggling with a win percentage in the top three (.380). A seemingly impossible breakthrough is in sight. Along with the roar of the guzau, the lions are also coming to life.