Kiwoom’s leading hitter Lee Jung-hoo recorded 14 at-bats, 6 hits, a batting average of 0.429, 5 RBIs, 4 runs, 2 runs, 1 steal, and 1 base OPS in 4 games in the first round of the WBC. However, as soon as he returned to the team, he said in an interview with reporters that good individual results in the WBC did not mean much.
It has two meanings. First of all, Korean 안전놀이터baseball ‘exploded’ at the WBC. Lee Jung-hoo made such a statement in the sense that he felt a sense of responsibility as the national team’s leading hitter. The other is “Only about 30 at-bats went in.” It means that the evaluation is meaningless as he played about 30 at-bats, from the Tucson field training, Gocheok and Osaka practices, to WBC 1st round 4 games.
Lee Jung-hoo completely changed his batting form last winter. He lowered his bat from ear to chest. A change to get the bat to the hitting point faster. It is a preemptive measure to deal with the 160km fastball in the major leagues a year later. In addition, the stance was slightly open, but it was slightly closed, keeping in mind the attack from the outside. Apparently, the major leagues are good at catching outside strikes.
Lee Jung-hoo thinks that it is premature to evaluate this tremendous change with just 30 at-bats. Still, it’s safe to say that he’s adjusting smoothly. After returning to the KBO League exhibition game, he is good with 6 hits in 12 at-bats, 0.500 batting average, 2 homers, 7 RBIs and 4 runs scored in 6 games. In particular, he hit a home run by targeting Hanwha Moon Dong-ju, who was very quick.
Excluding practice games, his performance in 10 games, including 4 WBC 1st round games and 6 KBO exhibition games, was 26 at-bats, 12 hits, 0.462 batting average, 2 homers, 12 RBIs, 8 runs scored, and 4 walks. Of course, the results of dealing with pitchers from China and the Czech Republic, who have poor discrimination, were included.
Even so, there are some striking numbers. It’s three strikes. Except for one in the first round of the WBC, he did not strike out a single at-bat. There are no strikeouts in the demonstration game yet. In fact, Lee Jeong-hoo struck out only 281 batters while playing 3560 at-bats for 6 years as a pro. He struck out just 32 batters in 627 at bats last year as well. It was the fewest strikeouts since his debut.
His contact skills are so good that he rarely strikes out. He struck out just one in 26 at-bats in 10 official matches in which he completely changed his batting mechanic. It is doubtful whether Lee Jung-hoo can say that even this is meaningless. He himself is unsure, but it seems clear that he is at least not going in the wrong direction. He couldn’t strike out so few if he hadn’t adapted to the new hitting mechanic.
The lid of the season has not even been opened yet. An exhibition game is also a practice game in a large frame. As Lee Jung-hoo said, it is true that the sample was small. Anyway, if you take the top spot in the KBO league once again with the changed mechanic, you prove yourself once again that the domestic market is narrow. Apart from Kiwoom’s performance this season and the process of advancing to the major leagues after the season, it is a point that is attracting extraordinary attention.