SSG Landers was the strongest team in the league last season. They achieved an unforgettable season by winning ‘Wire to Wire’, maintaining first place from the opening game to the final game. They also reached the top of the Korean Series, enjoying a combined championship for the first time in 12 years since 2010 when they were with the SK Wyverns. The entire team achieved their goal without giving in to crises big or small.
It is true that expectations were high for SSG to challenge for a second consecutive victory as there were no significant power leaks ahead of this season. Although several players in the league moved to teams due to free agency (FA) contracts, there were not many teams that could be considered a rival to SSG. Fortunately, the LG Twins, who competed for first place in the regular season with SSG last year, were the first to watch out for.
Of course, SSG’s outlook for the 2023 season was not bright. There were negative expectations as there were no significant positive factors compared to the previous season’s performance, and some experts even predicted that it would not be easy for SSG to not only win the championship but also compete in the semifinals.
SSG held up fairly well until the first half of the season. Even as the starting pitchers struggled, foreign pitcher Kirk McCarty pitched well, and the team’s key bullpen pitchers, including Seo Jin-yong and Noh Kyung-eun, showed pitching that exceeded expectations day after day. In addition, key hitters, including ‘lucky guy’ Guillermo Heredia, were doing their part in the batting lineup.
Then, in the second half of the year, a strange atmosphere began to be felt. SSG, which met the Samsung Lions and Hanwha Eagles in the relatively lower ranks in turn at the end of July, was satisfied with recording 3 wins and 3 losses, and lost both Suwon KT Wiz matches on the 1st to 3rd, the first three-game series in August. Two weeks later, from the 15th to the 19th of last month, the company fell into a quagmire of five consecutive losses, effectively dropping out of the race for the lead, and LG’s monopoly system was solidified.메이저사이트
But that wasn’t the end. SSG, whose games lost significantly increased in September, has not been able to win a single winning series, and as of the 18th, it has the highest winning percentage in the entire league with a monthly record of 14 games, 2 wins, 1 draw, and 11 losses (0.154). SSG’s ranking, which had once reached 1st place, fell to 3rd, 4th, and 5th, and fell to 6th after losing two double headers against LG on the 17th. It became unclear whether or not they would even advance to the postseason.
Both pitching and hitting were in total trouble, to the point where it was difficult to pinpoint just one cause for the crash. The team’s batting average and ERA in September were 0.260 (6th) and 6.91 (lowest), respectively, putting them in a situation where neither their power as a home run team nor the solidity of their mound could be found.
In the end, it is pointed out that there are not many players who can play intermediate roles in the team. Last year, SSG, which came together around the ‘most senior’ Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min, achieved meaningful results by supporting even young players, but realistically, it is not easy for this to continue for several years.
This is true even if you just look at the mound. In the starting lineup, it is unclear which starting pitcher will be responsible for the team’s present and future. Even Oh Won-seok, whom we trusted, is experiencing prolonged slump. The situation is similar in the bullpen. Except for Ko Hyo-jun and Seo Jin-yong, there are not many pitchers who can be trusted. ‘Rookies’ Song Young-jin and Lee Ro-won, who stood out early in the season, are players who need more time.
LG coach Yeom Kyung-yeop, who was competing with SSG throughout the first half of the season, also said in a recent interview, “The starting player should be young. The backup should be a relatively older player. If older players become the core, generational change will not be possible.” So, it’s not that veteran players don’t play in the game, but that the new structure should be to help young players manage their stamina and gain experience while playing games in the 8th or 9th inning. Only then can the team continue to win, and that’s how a team like that should be built. He shared his thoughts on the composition of the team, saying, “Making it happen is the most important thing.”
The bigger problem is that it is not something that can be solved all at once once this season ends. It is impossible for young players to rise to the starting level overnight. Waiting time is needed, and the overall team needs to be reorganized. Will SSG be able to overcome the current crisis?