“That’s why Lee Jung-hoo took 4th place. Because he doesn’t seem to be able to escape those suspicious eyes.”
The skeptical gaze of Major League Baseball (ML) toward KBO hitters seems to be still the same. Even the 2022 season KBO MVP Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom), who was recognized for having excellent contact skills, has not yet been able to avoid 100% of the suspicion.
American media CBS Sports introduced various promising players from Korea, Japan and other leagues ahead of the opening of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the 4th (Korean time).
Lee Jung-hoo was also selected as the 4th promising player after the 3 Japanese players. The first place was Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix), the second place was Roki Sasaki (Chiba Lotte), and the third place was Munetaka Murakami (Yakult). CBS Sports said, “Lee Jung-hoo is called the grandson of wind and is the current MVP of the KBO. While playing for the same club as Kim Ha-seong (San Diego), he recorded a career batting average of 0.342, on-base percentage of 0.407, slugging average of 0.495, 59 homers, 63 stolen bases, and 53 walks rather than strikeouts. I wrote more,” he said.
Recently, the local media in the US is in the midst of introducing international prospects to participate in the WBC. Not long ago, Baseball America (BA), which has high public confidence in evaluating baseball prospects, ranked Japanese players 1st to 3rd alongside Sasaki, Yamamoto, and Murakami, and ranked Lee Jeong-hoo as 4th. It is the same ranking as CBS Sports.
The reason why they were relatively weak compared to Japanese players was because of the negative view of the KBO League. CBS Sports explained, “The KBO is considered the third best league in the world after Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB).” did.
It’s not that their negative gaze is not understandable. In fact, many Korean players have tried to play in the major leagues over the past 20 years, but success stories have focused on pitchers such as Park Chan-ho and Ryu Hyun-jin. Choo Shin-soo, the only Korean hitter to win a contract worth more than 100 million dollars, is hard to see as a success story from the KBO League, starting his professional career in the Seattle Minor League. Ha-seong Kim, who showed batting productivity above the league average last year, is also recognized for his defensive side rather than his batting. In fact, Kang Jung-ho, who was recognized as a batsman from the KBO League, was the only one who hit double-digit home runs three times as a Pittsburgh starting pitcher in the past. 안전놀이터
However, being pessimistic about hitters from the KBO and ranking him 4th means, on the contrary, that expectations for Lee Jung-hoo are high. CBS Sports said, “Last season, Lee Jung-hoo hit more home runs (23 in 2022) than the combined homers recorded in the preceding two years (22 in 2020-2021). And his above-average contact ability is the safest factor in his hitting. “, he evaluated.
“He is also a plus-class runner and defender. Just as Kim Ha-seong raised his OPS in his second year, Lee Jung-hoo may need time to adapt to the major leagues. Additional values (running base, defense, etc.) It will be a reason for me to play in the field,” he added.