“Fifth place. No, we can go as high as third.”
That’s what KIA manager Choi Hyung-woo said during a three-game series against NC last week. The strength of the starting rotation with new foreign pitchers Thomas Pannoni and Mario Sanchez, a bullpen that is starting to manage fatigue, a weakness in the infield addressed by Kim Tae-gun, the addition of Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young, and a batting lineup that is now complete with Choi Won-joon.
Despite what Choi says, KIA’s current lineup doesn’t even come close to the top-ranked LG or second-ranked SSG. In fact, the lineup consists of Choi Won-joon, Kim Do-young, Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, Socrates Brito, Kim Sun-bin, Lee Woo-sung, Kim Tae-gun, and Park Chan-ho, with Sanchez, Panoni, Yang Hyun-jong, Lee Ri, and Yoon Young-chul as the five starters, and Choi Jae-young and the succession duo of Choi Ji-min, Lim Ki-young, Lee Jun-young, Jeon Sang-hyun, and Jang Hyun-sik. The infield and outfield backups are Kim Kyu-sung, Ko Jong-wook, Lee Chang-jin, and Kim Ho-ryung, with Kim Ki-hoon, Kim Yoo-shin, and Yoon Jung-hyun in the bullpen.
In late May, the team sent many of its mainstays down to the second team due to injuries and poor performance. As a side effect, the cracks in the starting lineup led to bullpen overload, and the team struggled in June. However, the return of Choi Won-jun, Na Sung-beom, and Kim Do-young in late June and the trade of Kim Tae-gun in early July, along with the addition of foreign pitchers and the return of Kim Sun-bin, turned things around.
KIA’s 11-5 record in July is a testament to its full strength. The team had the best winning percentage in July. Their team ERA was the only one in the double digits (2.87). Their WHIP of 1.20 was also first. Their team batting average was fourth at .277, and their team OPS was first at .761. The defense wasn’t considered strong, but their seven errors were the fewest in the league.
Having been in a prenatal battle and a dogfight, Choi realized that his power was much better than in the past year or two. Choi, who is usually cautious with his comments, even mentioned third place over fifth. Of course, baseball doesn’t always line up in batting order. Players and teams can move up or down for a variety of reasons.
So it’s hard to be too optimistic about KIA’s August. The actual batting lineup has been struggling since the end of July. Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young took a breather after their respective comebacks, while Kim Sun-bin surprisingly didn’t pick up his pace after his return. Lee Woo-sung also showed signs of recovery after a deep slump. 꽁머니사이트
Coach Kim Jong-guk said this after the NC three-game series. “It will take until August for (the players’ condition) to improve. That’s when they will come up.” It’s not uncommon for players returning from injury to start off strong and then drop off. He also said that variables such as physical fitness and training volume cannot be ignored.
“In August, the team will be organized,” Kim said. He said that August is the time when the condition of the main members will be relatively even. Baseball is all about relativity, and there are many variables. However, Kim firmly believes that if the main players are at their best, the team will be unbeatable. In fact, there are some outside observers who are quite wary of a complete KIA.