Interest exploded even before debut… The weight of ML crown that can be overcome if it’s ‘Lee Jung-hoo’

January 15, 2024 | by

Attention is already high even before his Major League debut. He has to overcome the pressure. Lee Jung-hoo (San Francisco Giants), a former KBO league superstar, can do it.

The San Francisco Chronicle, a local media outlet in San Francisco, selected 15 baseball players to pay attention to in the San Francisco metropolitan area this year on the 14th (Korea time). It highlighted San Francisco President Farhan Zaidi who worked hard to recruit Lee Jung-hoo, head coach Bob Melvin who will lead San Francisco from this season, and team’s main starter Logan Webb. In addition, he mentioned Lee Jung-hoo for the 14th time.

The media expressed their expectations, saying, “We don’t know what the outcome of San Francisco’s new center fielder, known in Korea as the ‘grandchild of the wind,’ will be.” However, we know that Lee Jung-hoo will be interesting as a traditional hitter with excellent athletic ability, an active defender and professional contact skills.”

MLB.COM, the official website of Major League Baseball, also mentioned San Francisco in the outfielder category on the 12th, looking into teams that succeeded in reinforcing each position based on WAR (contribution to victory over alternative players), a website specializing in baseball statistics. San Francisco, which ranked 28th in the outfielder category last year, predicted that it would elevate its ranking to 11th this year. The reason was Lee Jung-hoo.

“San Francisco did not perform as well as expected in the offseason, but it recruited Lee Jung-hoo, a center fielder from South Korea, who is called the “grandchild of the wind.” Known for his impressive contact skills at bat, he will successfully leap forward this season with an on-base percentage of 0.354, a wRC+ (adjusted scoring productivity) of 116, and a similar percentage of strikeouts and walks,” the media said. “Lee Jung-hoo’s expected WAR as center fielder is 3.2. The figure will rise significantly from the 0.4 made by San Francisco last year when it deployed 10 players, including right fielder Mike Yastremsky and 21-year-old rookie Luis Matos.”

Growing expectations and interest may be burdensome. As Lee Jung-hoo is the only player, however, there is no big concern. “I have more expectations than burdens,” Lee said at a press conference after signing a contract with San Francisco last month.

For example, regarding his showdown with Shohei Ohtani (LA Dodgers), who played in the same National League West, he said, “The comparison with Ohtani is ridiculous. Ohtani is the best player in baseball in the world, and I’m just starting, so I can’t compare him,” and added, “(Ohtani) is not a player that I can match, and there is no such thing as pressure.”

Lee Jung-hoo has lived with the spotlight since he was a child. He is the son of Lee Jong-beom, one of the legends in Korean baseball, former coach of the LG Twins. Since he inherited the baseball DNA from “Son of the Wind,” people around him had high expectations that he would display as much performance as possible. Lee Jung-hoo has always shown better-than-expected performances amid numerous eyes. He has consistently led the team as a core pillar of the Korean heroic corps.

Lee Jung-hoo, who debuted with the first nomination of the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom Heroes) in 2017, won the Rookie of the Year award that year. In 2022, he won five awards in batting categories including batting average (0.349), hits (193), RBIs (113), slugging percentage (0.575), and on-base percentage (0.421), winning the MVP of the regular season. He also won the Golden Glove in the outfield category for five consecutive years from 2018 to 2022.

He played in 884 games for seven seasons until last year, boasting a batting average of 0.340, 1,181 hits, 65 homers, 515 RBIs, a slugging percentage of 0.491, and a on-base percentage of 0.407. He ranks first in batting average among all hitters (based on 3,000 or more at-bats) in the KBO League.

Lee Jung-hoo challenged the Major League after the end of last season. He signed a large-scale, six-year contract worth a total of 113 million U.S. dollars on April 15. It was the highest treatment ever among Korean players who advanced to the big league through a posting system (closed competitive bidding). It was also the highest ever even when the team expanded its scope to Asian fielders. It also included a clause that allows the team to opt out after the end of the 2027 season. 월카지노


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