If you dare to follow the dictionary definition of lead-off, it refers to the number 1 hitter in the team lineup. In that sense, the current KIA leadoff is Choi Won-joon.메이저놀이터
Choi Won-joon, who was discharged after completing his military service in the Armed Forces Sports Unit (Sangmu) in June, had some ups and downs in his batting immediately after joining the team. Choi Won-joon, who bombed the Futures League (second team) last year, could not play normally this year due to a shoulder injury. In the meantime, there was an aspect that he did not properly prepare for the season, and he had to continue to improve his batting condition through training even after being discharged.
However, from the last minute of the first half, he began to show his batting quality little by little, and in recent years he has consistently been the team’s leadoff, becoming the first KIA hitter to go out every day. He has already proven his sophistication to hit 300, and he is an explosive hitter who can go one more base with a stolen base at any time. He’s a player who could be an ideal leadoff if things go well for him.
However, if you look at KIA’s batting trend these days, there is another lead-off in terms of ‘lead-off on base’. It is Park Chan-ho, who is in the ninth batting order. When looking at KIA’s big innings or when scores are scored, it is often seen that Park Chan-ho, number 9, goes on base and passes the baton to the top lineup, and then the top lineup hitters solve the problem.
The leadoff is the player responsible for the first at-bat of the game, but in fact, any batter can become the leadoff batter after that, not just in the first inning. So, the batting order that has recently been recognized as important is number 9. If he gets on base in the 9th, there will be a runner in front of the top line, so the possibility of scoring increases. Park Chan-ho is also a player who has been proving this trend well lately.
Park Chan-ho, who once served as the team’s leadoff, suffered a severe slump in the first half. However, recently, he has focused on making contact and mass-producing strong balls rather than making big swings. As a result, his batting average is soaring, and so is his on-base percentage. He is also picking up a lot of walks. Park Chan-ho is also a fast runner, so the pressure on his opponent’s battery is great.
On the 4th, against Hanwha in Gwangju (9-3 win), this scoring formula, in which KIA is having fun these days, came out again. It was 2-1, 4 times ahead by 1 point. Park Chan-ho, ‘Number 9’, who started as the lead batter, chose to walk. He first allowed 2S and got a walk after a persistent game that went up to 7 pitches.
Then Choi Won-joon hit a hit that split the middle right. Here, KIA’s powerful scoring formula came out again. Park Chan-ho, who accurately judged the batted ball, started running toward third base without looking back, and after gaining momentum, he turned around third base and ran home. The moment he was hit, there was no way he could stop Park Chan-ho, who was determined to run home.
Park Chan-ho’s dash led Choi Won-joon, the trailing runner, to third base. Thanks to Park Chan-ho going around third base and making it all the way to the home base, Choi Won-joon, who had no stumbling block of being a runner ahead, was able to speed up and make it all the way to third base. If the 9th hitter was a slow runner, he could have stayed on second or third base safely, but he could have scored one run with the same batted ball and become third base safely. It was the ideal picture KIA drew. Choi Won-jun stepped on the home plate when Na Seong-beom hit a heavy hit after one out. It was the moment when KIA took a breath.
The KIA, where the two players are exploding together in the second half, is backed up by the third hitter named Na Seong-beom, and other hitters such as Kim Do-young, Choi Hyeong-woo, Kim Seon-bin, and Lee Woo-seong are taking turns playing active roles, regaining the prestige of the league’s top batting line. There doesn’t have to be one stormtrooper on the team.