Who will be in charge of Kiwoom ‘s outfield with center fielder Lee Jung-hoo and right fielder Lee Hyung-jong? The 1st team, led by coach Hong Won-ki, will be in Arizona, USA, and the Futures (2nd team), led by coach Seol Jong-jin, will hold spring camp in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
As the power outflow was not large compared to last year, this year Kiwoom looks beyond fall baseball. Moreover, since it is the last season for outfielder Lee Jung-hoo, who is about to challenge the big leagues, there is no choice but to be greedy to achieve good results.
So, what is the biggest challenge Kiwoom needs to solve? In some positions, such as Lee Ji-young, Lee Jung-hoo, Edison Russell, and Kim Hye-seong, you can see players who have taken the starting position, but there are also positions where competition is inevitable. In particular, center fielder Lee Jung-hoo, right fielder Lee Hyung-jong and left fielder to take charge of the outfield are needed.
Last year, there were only 10 players in left field.
According to Statties, a site specializing in KBO league records, there were 10 players who played at least one inning in the first team as a left fielder within the team last year. The competition continued during the season to the extent that no left fielder played more than 500 innings.
The player with the most defensive innings was ‘veteran’ Lee Yong-gyu (442⅓ innings in 61 games). In the previous season, he was in charge of defending the left and right outfield corners, but last year he focused only on the left fielder. However, the number of games played, including designated hitters, decreased significantly from the previous year (133 games in 2021 → 86 games last year). 먹튀검증
The player who succeeded him was Kim Jun-wan (399⅓ innings in 65 games). Even during the NC Dinos days, he played a lot of innings as a left fielder, but mainly stepped on the ground as a center fielder, and last year was the first time since his professional debut that he played close to 400 innings only as a left fielder.
In addition, Lim Ji-yeol (155 innings), Park Chan-hyuk (74 innings), Kim Tae-jin (64 innings), Park Jun-tae (62⅔ innings), and Park Ju-hong (59 innings) followed. The problem is that Kiwoom’s concerns about left fielders appeared in the postseason as well. You can tell just by looking at the starting lineup.
From the 1st game of the semi-playoffs to the 2nd game of the playoffs, Kim Jun-wan played as the main left fielder, and in the 3rd game of the playoffs Lee Yong-kyu played the left fielder. In the 4th game of the playoffs, Park Jun-tae was given a chance to start. In the Korean series against SSG Landers, Kim Jun-wan was again listed in the starting lineup as the left fielder, and Kim Tae-jin appeared as the starting left fielder only in Game 6.
This year, Kiwoom’s left fielder competition is ‘currently ongoing’
Even after the year, the main left fielder has not been decided. Head coach Hong Won-ki revealed that he plans to use outfielder Hyung-jong Lee, who was recruited as a Futures free agent, as a right fielder instead of a left fielder.
As of now, the two-way composition between Lee Yong-gyu and Kim Jun-wan, who received the most chances in the regular season and postseason last year, is likely. As he has to lead a season with a sense of stability, it is impossible to entrust the starting left fielder to a player with no experience.
Coincidentally, the two players headed to Taiwan, not Arizona, USA where the first team camp was held. A large number of players who need to adjust their condition focusing on actual matches joined the Futures Camp, and they plan to check their skills through practice games.
Lim Ji-yeol, who played the role of a “joker” in last year’s postseason, and Park Joo-hong and Park Chan-hyuk, who gained experience after being dispatched to Geelong Korea of the Australian Professional Baseball (ABL) this winter, are also aiming for starting positions. Until the exhibition game to be held in March, the player who is sure to receive the eyes of coach Hong Won-ki will survive.
Another thing, when this season is over, Kiwoom has to think about not only the left fielder but also the center fielder. This is because someone has to fill the void left by Lee Jung-hoo. A season that is more important than ever for the Kiwoom outfield is approaching.