Will 174 hits happen again?
June 12 was a special day for Kia Tigers manager Kim Jong-kook as he prepared for the 2023 season. It was the day that outfielder Choi Won-jun, who was serving in the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce), would be discharged and return to the team. The reason for the anticipation was that Choi was the best leadoff man and outfielder on the enlisted team.
In 2021, he played 143 games and had 668 plate appearances as the primary right fielder and leadoff hitter. He went 2-for-9, failing to hit for a triple. However, he had 174 hits, 44 RBI, 82 runs scored, and 40 stolen bases for an OPS of .742. He was third in hits and second in stolen bases. It was the year he established himself as one of the top leadoff hitters in the KBO.
Kia started the season with two-time stolen base champion Park Chan-ho and second-year player Kim Do-young, who is also an accomplished stealer, at third base. Park has stolen 40 bases in his career. Kim was diagnosed as having the potential to reach 50 stolen bases if he played full-time. If Choi Won-joon was added to the mix, a dream 40-steal trio could be in the works. 토토사이트 With his precise bat and feet, he could create a scoring equation that would shake up the opposition.
But Choi didn’t quite live up to expectations.
There were many reasons for this. First and foremost, he was unable to properly prepare for the season due to shoulder discomfort. His performance in the Futures spoke for itself. In 30 games, he had a dismal record of 2.1-1.9. This was a far cry from his dominant performance in the 2022 Futures League, where he went 3-for-8 with a 1.200 OPS. He wasn’t in the best shape when he left the military.
Furthermore, he was playing first base instead of the outfield. Lee Woo-sung was the main outfielder, and the first base position was vacant. Coach Kim Jong-kook ordered Choi Won-jun to prepare a first baseman in the commercial team. The plan was to use him at first base when he returns. It was a move to maximize the batting lineup. Choi had an impressive performance in his comeback with two hits, but he quickly fell into a slump. The expected Choi effect didn’t happen.
Facing first-team pitchers for the first time in two years while not in perfect physical condition, his batting struggled. His defense was also unfamiliar to first base, even though he was an infielder. With a lot of hard hits and tricky boundary balls, my defense at first base was not up to the task. Mistakes started popping up. His defensive mistakes were affecting his batting, so he moved back to the outfield and was benched a lot.
His comeback didn’t live up to expectations.
He played in 67 games and had 274 at-bats. He batted 2-for-5 with 23 RBI, 37 runs scored, 13 doubles, and an OPS of 0.672. This was not the Won-Jun Choi of the 2021 season. Choi’s struggles prevented the 40-steal lineup from being a force to be reckoned with. It also contributed to the team’s elimination from the top five. On top of that, he was selected to play in the Guangzhou Asian Games but suffered a calf injury. Upon returning home, a medical examination revealed fascia damage, and the season ended.
Despite the disappointing end to his season, he has new hopes for the 2024 season. He is preparing for the season with the mindset that he is practically starting over. At the end of the year, he and Pianse got married. That’s a lot of responsibility. His calf injury has been cleaned up, and he will hold a voluntary camp on Jeju Island from Nov. 11 before spring training in Australia.
In particular, he had a meaningful time with senior Na Sung-bum after the season.
He started as an apprentice and bulked up through weight training until November. It was a time to redefine the need for weights. In December, he continued to train at Champions Field and was praised for his size. He used the off-season to heal his injuries and bulk up.
After the Jeju voluntary camp, I will be able to fully prepare for the season until the spring camp in Australia in February. As he has already shown his performance, ‘Again in 2021’ is possible if his body is 100% ready. He can try to achieve the elusive three-for-three batting average in his first regulation at-bat. If Choi Won-jun is flying in the air, the KIA batting lineup will be hard to stop. Park Chan-ho can play batting with Kim Do-young. Na Sung-beom, 안전 토토사이트 Choi Hyung-woo, Socrates, Kim Sun-bin, and Lee Woo-sung make up a super-powerful batting lineup. It’s no exaggeration to say that Choi Won-jun is the de facto key to the 2024 KIA batting lineup.