The 2nd Draft’s No. 1 Ranger, Why “I Called Long Live for No Shifts”… I Lost 20 Hit

February 5, 2024 | by

“I shouted ‘Hooray’ at the news of no shift.”

Veteran Choi Joo-hwan, who moved from SSG Landers to Kiwoom Heroes in the second draft, welcomed the ban on defensive shifts. Choi Joo-hwan, who has an unusually large number of attractive hits, showed confidence that he can rebound from a drop in his batting average over the past three years.

Choi is spending his spring camp with his new teammates at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, Arizona. “I think I came to Arizona in 2015 when I was with Doosan,” Choi said. “I heard that the weather in Arizona was cold last year, but it’s very nice even though it’s only been a few days. It’s a camp for Arizona in the Major League, so the facilities are well established.”

“Compared to (SSG Camp) Florida, it was good because the flight time was short, but it took longer than I thought to travel by bus from Las Vegas,” he said.

Kiwoom has recruited a small number of elite players from its spring camp in Arizona. Some of the top-tier players remain in Korea and are exercising at Goyang Stadium. They will leave for the second camp in Taiwan in mid-February for a practice game.

“I think I’m comfortable with adjusting to the camp because there are not many campers,” Choi said. “I’m next to Yong-gyu. I don’t know what my juniors will think, but I’m trying to blend into the team quickly. I also feel a sense of responsibility (as a senior in the team).”

While SSG, which played until last year, was an average-aged team with a lot of veterans, Kiwoom is a representative young team in the KBO League. Choi said, “I have a lot of young players, so I’m following the exercise with a lot of young energy. I’m having fun training. Landers 마카오카지노주소 also had a good team atmosphere, but Kiwoom, which has a lot of young players, seems to be dynamic.”

Choi is determined to recover his reputation this season. Choi was excluded from the SSG’s 35 protection players list ahead of the second draft held in November last year. Many teams have prepared to recruit Choi in the second draft, and Kiwoom, which has the first overall pick, has selected Choi as the first pick.

Choi Joo-hwan, who signed a four-year FA contract with SSG for up to 4.2 billion won ahead of the 2021 season, will move to another team with one year left before the contract period. Choi played 134 games last year and recorded a batting average of 235 (100 hits in 426 times at bat) with 20 home runs and 63 RBIs with an OPS of .742. His batting average and on-base percentage were sluggish, but he recorded 20 home runs for the first time in five years after 26 home runs in 2018.

SSG excluded high-paid player Choi Joo-hwan from the list of protected players to manage salary cap, but in some ways, it did not judge him as a key player for the team due to his recent decline in performance. He recorded a batting average of 256 with 18 home runs in his first year of 2021, and in 2022 he played in 97 games due to injury and sluggishness, and posted a batting average of 211 with nine home runs. His batting average fell last year.

Choi Joo-hwan had different views. He acknowledged his poor performance and mentioned the “defensive shift.” “Coincidentally, teams have widely used defensive shifts, and my batting average has been low over the past three years. If there is no shift now, I have to prove it in a reset situation,” Choi said, expecting the effect of banning the shift. “When I heard that defensive shifts were banned, I shouted ‘long live.'”

Choi also hit .300 when he was playing for Doosan, and maintained his overall batting average of over .280. During the three seasons after moving to SSG, his batting average has declined significantly. “It is not an aging curve. There were many hits that were caught in the shift. It was not just one or two. The figures show that the team lost more than 20 hits. The number of hits that I pulled last year was No. 1,” Choi said. “If 20 hits were caught in the shift defense, without the shift, Choi’s batting average would be 281 last year.

Left-handed hitters such as LG’s Kim Hyun-soo and Doosan’s Kim Jae-hwan have fallen victim to shifts between first and second bases. “There were many hits that were caught behind the grass,” Choi said. “I can’t see any gaps. If shifts are banned this year, there will be many changes,” he said. His belief is that he can boost his batting average, which had been low for three years.

Of course, that’s how much you have to prepare well. “If I play well this year, it will prove that the timing was not right due to defensive shifts, not FA-loid ones. I want to have a healthy season and be valued again,” Choi said. He is confident. “I’ve been working out since before the 2nd draft, and I think Kiwoom’s training part here fits me well. Three of you are here, and I think your style of exercising and managing suits me well. I think I can produce good performances this year,” Choi said.


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