“I don’t have time to worry about things like the Golden Gloves. I only think about the team winning.”
Until last April,메이저놀이터 Park Chan-ho (28, KIA Tigers) was known as a shortstop with ‘quick feet.’ From his debut in 2014 until last year, his career batting average was only 0.243. He won the stolen bases title twice, in 2019 (39) and 2022 (42), but his batting average was only 0.260 in 2019 and 0.272 in 2022.
This year, Park Chan-ho became a complete shortstop. As of the 6th, he has a batting average of 0.304, 119 hits, 61 runs, 46 RBIs, and 27 stolen bases. His batting average is well above last year’s career high. He is still ranked 2nd in the KBO League in stolen bases. 1st place Shin Min-jae (LG Twins, 31) seemed to be leading the way, but Park Chan-ho is catching up, adding 4 in just 3 games in September.
Chan-ho Park is becoming a .300 hitter, but his batting average was only 0.181 last April. Rather than support, criticism and suspicion followed him. However, he has been on the rise since May, and except for June, he has consistently recorded a batting average of over .300 every month. In particular, he is maintaining good batting ability with a batting average of 0.383 in 26 games since August. In August, he ranked first in the monthly Shell Helix Player hitter category with a WAR (contribution to victory compared to replacement) of 1.86 (based on Sports2I).
Park Chan-ho, who met with this newspaper, said, “I’m not in good shape recently. My body has become a lot heavier as I digest the season,” but added, “The team atmosphere is so good, so we have fun together. I try to see as many balls as possible. The hitters behind me are ridiculous.” “It’s really good, so I think I can score as long as I get on base, so I’m going to try to get on base as much as possible.” KIA, which is on a 9-game winning streak, sees table setters Park Chan-ho and Kim Do-young on base, and Na Seong-beom, Choi Hyeong-woo, and Socrates Brito do not miss the opportunity to call them in.
It was a year in which Park Chan-ho felt the hearts of his fans more than anyone else. He may be thought of as cold-hearted when he is performing poorly, but when he performs well, even more support follows him. Chan-Ho Park already knows this. He said, “Even when I was doing poorly in April, I thought they would definitely support me if I did well. My wife was upset because I was criticized for things other than baseball. But even then, I said, ‘Don’t be upset. Just wait a month or two. How can I (the fans’ feelings) I promised, ‘I’ll show you if this changes.’ In the end, it turned out as good as I said,” he said, laughing.
A batting average of .300 for the first time since debut, the third stolen base king in his career, and the first Golden Glove are all within sight. It is a time when all professional players are greedy for their individual performance, but Chan-ho Park shook his head and said that he had no desire to win awards. He drew the line, saying, “Stealing a base is physically demanding, and it is not possible to succeed every time you try.” This means that there will be no record challenge for the title. Instead, he explained, “Naturally, I’m just doing my best every time at bat. There have been too many situations recently where the team needs me to steal bases. When I get on base, I have to steal bases, and that’s why I’ve accumulated records.”
Chan-ho Park said, “I don’t have time to worry about that (individual awards).” Park Chan-ho’s fall baseball experience is limited to one game in the wild card game last year. The last time KIA won in 2017, Park Chan-ho was unable to participate in the championship due to his military service. This year, KIA is in 5th place (as of the 6th), but the final score still cannot be guaranteed. While they are chasing the 2nd place KT Wiz with only 3 games, they are also 4 games away from the 6th place Doosan Bears. Depending on the performance for the remaining month, you could end up in 2nd or 6th place.
Chan-ho Park said, “The team is not in a position to relax,” and “We have to somehow move up to the top rankings. All I can think about is the team winning. My original goal was 3rd place, but with this momentum, 2nd place will be difficult, but I don’t think it’s impossible.” He expressed his determination mixed with anticipation.