How will Lee Kang-cheol-ho utilize the strongest keystone in Korean baseball history?
Attention is focusing on how manager Lee Kang-cheol will use Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) and Tommy Hyeon-su Edman (28, St. Louis Cardinals)스포츠토토, who have been decided to join Korea next month, in other lines. The two players, who will be used as shortstop and second baseman, will add great strength not only to the defense, but also to the batting line. 2023 WBC (World Baseball Classic) Final Round 1 Group B Even Japan, which is considered the strongest power, is secretly confident in the composition of Lee Kang-cheol-ho, but is not wary of the existence of the two players. Attention is focusing on what batting order Lee will place these two players in to increase their scoring power.
Ha-seong Kim’s hitting has already been verified in the KBO League and Major League. He became a full-fledged main player in Heroes (now Kiwoom). From 2015 to 2020, he recorded double-digit homers and an on-base percentage in the late 30s for 6 consecutive seasons. In 2019, he stole 33 bases and was fast enough to rank second in the division. Even in the early days of his debut, the focus was on his contact ability, but he easily made long hits based on his strong wrist strength. In the early days of his advance to the major leagues, attention was focused on his defensive ability rather than his hitting. However, in the 2022 season, when he secured his stable playing time, he recorded 130 hits and 11 home runs, proving his batting ability to work in the big leagues.
Edmund has a feeling that his batting ability is overshadowed by the title of ‘utility player’ during his time in St. Louis. However, in the 2021-2022 season, he recorded 150 hits, double-digit home runs and 30 stolen bases for the second consecutive year, proving that his hitting ability is also at the top of the big leagues. His ability as a leadoff has been underestimated, given that his on-base percentage has been in the low-to-mid 30s since 2019, when he started his big league career. However, there was no disagreement that he was a player with steady hit production ability and excellent running sense. It is also attractive that he can switch hit depending on the type of pitcher. St. Louis used this kind of Edmon not only as a leadoff but also as a ninth hitter, and also assigned a role as a link in the upper batting order.
In the previous two practice games, coach Lee gave Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) the leadoff position. It was judged that Lee Jung-hoo’s abilities were not significantly inferior to Kim Ha-seong and Edmund. There is also a view that Lee Jung-hoo, who uses sophisticated hitting, has a bit more edge in terms of his on-base. However, given that the weight given to opposing pitchers based on their big league careers cannot be overlooked, it is worth taking a peek at either Ha-seong Kim or Edman as a leadoff, or two players forming a table setter. However, considering the condition of Kim Hyeon-soo and Edmund, there is a possibility that Lee Jeong-hoo will be placed at the table setter’s position and Edmund will be placed at the ninth position to serve as a bridge to the lineup.
Kim Ha-seong said, “I think the batting line will be better if Nana Edman joins the national team, but in a short game, anyone in good condition should hit in front (of the batting order),” predicting that the current condition will determine the national team batting order. He presupposed that “baseball is pitcher play”, but “(San Diego) spring camp live batting 97 to 98 miles (about 156 to 158 km) fast ball, so I think it will definitely be fine in the WBC,” he showed confidence.
After joining the national team, the batters showed good condition every day. It was to the point where Lee commented, “I want to send all the players out.” He said, “When Kim Ha-seong and Edmon join, we discuss a lot with the coaches about the placement of other hitters.” The ‘happy worries’ between coach Lee and the national team are expected to continue.