Park Byeong-ho (37, KT Wiz), the home run king of the 2022 season, was named to the final entry for the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC).
As an individual, Park Byeong-ho is the 5th Taegeuk mark following the 2014 Asian Games, 2015 WSBC Premier 12, 2018 Asian Games, and 2019 Premier 12. Coach Lee Kang-cheol said the reason for Park’s selection was, “In the first round, I played 4 matches against Asian countries, and I thought Park was fine. Also, since the Tokyo Dome is small, I can expect a big hit.”
His selection is natural, unless it is a matter of generational change. Park Byung-ho moved to KT last year and won the sixth home run king in three years since 2019 with a batting average of 0.275, 35 homers, 98 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.908 in 124 games. Despite playing fewer games due to injury, he was the dominant home run champion, a gap of 2nd and 7th. He is also a perfect fit for the national team’s first baseman, as he has always excelled at first base defense.
What is regrettable is that the selection of Park Byeong-ho candidly showed the reality of the absence of a young geopo. Among the 30 players in the final entry, the only players who can be classified as geopo are Park Byung-ho, Yang Eui-ji (36, Doosan), Choi Jeong (36, SSG), and Na Seong-beom (35, KIA). There is no young player to push out the average 36-year-old.토토사이트
In particular, the right-handed hitter famine made the technical committee think about the left-right balance. Regarding the current roster with a high proportion of left-handed hitters, Lee said, “I still thought about right-handed hitters a lot. Australia’s starting pitcher is likely to be left-handed, but (our lineup) leaned too far toward left-handers. That’s why Park Byeong-ho and Park Gun-woo (33, NC) “But other players have also faced left-handed pitchers a lot, so I think they can handle it well enough,” he said.
In fact, the problem of right-handed hitter famine in the KBO League and Korean baseball is not a matter of a day or two. Looking at the last five years alone, there were no native right-handed hitters in their 20s in the top 5 in home runs every season. Hitters in their 30s, such as Park Byung-ho, Choi Jeong, Yang Eui-ji, and Kim Jae-hwan (35, Doosan), were the majority. Except for Ha-seong Kim (28, San Diego), who headed to the major leagues, there was no right-handed hitter expected to hit 20 homers every year.
Regarding this phenomenon, a KBO club official A said, “Righties need more time to adapt than lefties. There is a big difference between the high school and professional stages. do,” he said. Another club official, B, mentioned the difference in basic talent, saying, “Recently, KBO League hitter prospects have been focused on left-handed hitters.”
It is difficult to pinpoint just one cause. It is complex. A bigger problem is that the right-handed hitter famine could become more serious than it is now. Basically, hitter prospects have a harder time getting into the first team and getting a starting spot than pitching prospects. It is not unrelated to this that all the KBO rookie kings since 2016, besides Kang Baek-ho and Lee Jung-hoo, have come from pitchers.
Naturally, top prospects tended to choose pitchers. A KBO scout C said, “If you look at the recent amateur trend, if you want to be physically good and have talent in baseball, you will pitch a lot.” That’s why it became a trend,” he said.
There is no right answer to solve this problem. The birth of a Uta Geopo superstar could be a way. The appearance of Kim Hyun-soo in the past created a flow of right-handed and left-handed prospects in amateur baseball. Recently, as Lee Jung-hoo has been active as a KBO representative, many baseball aspirants are dreaming of a second Lee Jung-hoo. The birth of a superstar can create another trend, just as the major league home run craze, such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire in the past, created countless hitters.
For this, in the end, we need many opportunities for right-handed players to participate. Right-handed hitters who dominate the current league often show their potential only when they are in their late 20s, having accumulated a lot of experience. Scout C said, “If a pitcher has a good pitch, even a high school graduate can play in the bullpen. Players who come to the pros to gain experience and have potential become successful, but the key is how likely they are to persevere and overcome until they become established.”