In the first full-time year, ‘RBI 3rd’ KIA first baseman sets a record for the first time in 8 years and goes to the start

When the KIA Tigers were doing well, first base was always reliable. Choi Hee-seop (44) won the Korean Series in 2009, and Kim Joo-chan (42) changed positions to fill the void in the 2017 championship. From 2019, the last year of coach Kim Joo-chan, first base became Muju Gongsan. Hwang Dae-in (27) and Yoo Min-sang (34) received opportunities and even tried to hold the position of outfielder Preston Tucker (33), but first baseman’s batting productivity hovered at the bottom of the league for three years. The team’s ranking also plummeted due to a hole in the most critical position.

However, this year’s KIA first base has a different expectation. Kim Seok-hwan (24), who showed both a .300 batting average and a double-digit home run in a single season in the Futures League, and Byeon Woo-hyuk (23), who joined as the first designated player for Hanwha in 2019 by trade this winter, are showing a good sense of hitting from spring camp. In addition, the two also had the long hitting power to satisfy KIA, which had been thirsty for a native giant gun.

Naturally, Hwang Dae-in, the former first baseman, was threatened with his position in one season after he became the starting pitcher. Hwang Dae-in, after being nominated by the KIA with the overall number 2 in the 2nd 1st round in 2015, served as a pinch hitter or platoon member until the 7th year of his 1st team debut. The reason was that he was weak against right pitchers until 2021 with a batting average of 0.221 and an OPS of 0.620. In contrast, he was strong against left pitchers with a batting average of 0.281 and an OPS of 0.867.

Because of that, a lot of attention was focused on what kind of performance Hwang Dae-in, who played full-time, would achieve, and the results came out only after Kim Jong-guk took over as coach. He played 129 games with a batting average of 0.256, 14 homers, 91 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.716, which was difficult to see as a success.

I felt sorry for the players themselves. Hwang Dae-in, whom I met at the last US spring camp, said, “It was a season where I felt that I was lacking a lot myself. He said that I played a part in the clutch situation, but no matter what player came, I would have done the same in that situation, and I had many opportunities, but there were many situations where I could not. It’s a pity,” he said, expressing his honest feelings, “Even though I recorded a personal career high last year, I am not satisfied with the results.”

However, even in Hwang Dae-in’s first full-time year, which seems to be regrettable, there are definitely positive aspects. Hwang Dae-in, who looked weak against right-handed pitchers, was not bad with a batting average of 0.259 and an OPS of 0.721 with 11 homers when he played full-time. He showed a small deviation with a batting average of 0.245 and a three-home run OPS of 0.696 even for a left-hander, raising expectations for the experienced Hwang Dae-in. 안전놀이터

He also showed his ability to produce RBIs. He received many RBI opportunities from behind top hitters such as Na Seong-beom (34) and Socrates Brito (30), but with a high scoring average of 0.296, he took the 10th place in RBI overall. If he limited himself to first base, he was third overall. Hwang Dae-in also knows what he can do well. He said, “I always think RBIs are important. Raising a lot of RBIs helps the team. I don’t think too much about home runs,” he said, aiming for 100 RBIs.

Only three KIA first basemen have reached 100 RBIs in a single season: Jang Seong-ho (46) in 2003, Choi Hee-seop in 2009, and Brett Phil (39) in 2015. If he achieves the first record in 8 years, which was broken after Phil, Dae-in Hwang will naturally solidify his position as the starting pitcher.

Last year’s experience is also expected to be of great help. It is true that right-handed hitters usually need a little more time to adapt than left-handed hitters, and Hwang Dae-in also gained proper experience through his ‘first full-time season’. Hwang Dae-in said, “I’ve never played full-time before, so I learned how to manage my stamina through last year’s experience and how to take the flow when it’s not good. Also, since I played a lot of games, I remembered what kind of pitcher my opponent was, so this year I think I will get better grades,” he said.

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