24 stolen bases, 0.231 batting average’, suffered injuries and slumps… Now a proper big leaguer, ML Bae Ji-hwan has proven his ‘competitiveness’


Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh Pirates), who only had a taste of the major league last year, has completed his second season as a big leaguer. Although he had a long absence due to injury, ‘Val’ proved that he is competitive enough in the major leagues.

Bae Ji-hwan started as center fielder and 8th hitter in the 2023 Major League Baseball home match against the Miami Marlins held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on the 2nd (Korean time) and recorded no hits in 2 at-bats and 1 walk.

Bae Ji-hwan, who had a hot year in 2021 with Pittsburgh’s minor league Double-A Altoona Curve, played in 83 games with 89 hits, 7 home runs, 31 RBIs, 63 runs, 20 stolen bases, and a batting average of 0.278 and an OPS of 0.772, was promoted to the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians last year and has 108 hits. After showing further improvement in the game with 121 hits, 8 home runs, 30 stolen bases, and a batting average of 0.289 and OPS 0.792, he was called up by the Major League at the end of the season.

There certainly weren’t many opportunities given to Bae Ji-hwan. However, the impact Bae Ji-hwan showed in a short period of time was great. After being called up to the big leagues at the end of the season, Bae Ji-hwan played an active part in 10 games with 11 hits, 6 RBIs, 5 runs, 3 stolen bases, and a batting average of 0.333 and an OPS of 0.829. As a result, this year, he participated in the big league spring camp as an official player rather than an ‘invited player’, and spent close to full-time time, including being named on the opening day roster.

This season, Bae Ji-hwan hit his first home run in his Major League debut with a two-run home run in the comeback final against the Boston Red Sox on April 5, and decorated his second home run of the season with a walk-off home run in the game against the Houston Astros on April 12. He accumulated 9 stolen bases and really caught the eyes of the fans and coaching staff. And his good trend continued into May.

Bae Ji-hwan did not add a home run in May, but he became the first Korean major leaguer to steal 10 bases and swung the bat with a batting average of 0.304 and OPS of 0.751 for the month. Considering that Ha-Seong Kim (San Diego Padres) only recorded double-digit steals in June, it was clear how strong his impact was at the beginning of the season.

Injuries were the thing that held Bae Ji-hwan back from adjusting smoothly to the big leagues. Bae Ji-hwan was suffering from a severe slump in June with a batting average of 0.159 when he injured his ankle ligaments while batting. He was able to avoid surgery, but due to the poor condition of his ankle at the time, Bae Ji-hwan had to take a hiatus of over a month, and only returned to the big league in mid-August.

Bae Ji-hwan started the season using his strength of quick feet, but he did not show the same ‘impact’ as at the beginning of the season. As a result, he ended the final game of the season with no hits in two consecutive games. Still, considering that it was actually his major league debut season, Bae Ji-hwan’s performance was enough to make people look forward to the future.

There were no hits in the final game of the season. In his first at-bat as the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 3rd inning with the game tied 0-0, Bae Ji-hwan successfully reached base by picking out the 6th ball after a full-count battle between Miami starter Ryan Weathers and 3B-2S. However, as the follow-up hit did not occur, it did not result in a score. As the pitching battle continued that day, Bae Ji-hwan was unable to get many at-bats.레모나토토

Bae Ji-hwan came to bat for the second time in the bottom of the 5th inning with the score tied 0-0, with one out and no runners on base, and this time, with an unfavorable count of 1B-2S, he struck out on Weathers’ 4th pitch, an outside slider that was out of the strike zone. And in the bottom of the 7th inning, with 2 outs and runners on 2nd base and a scoring chance, he was struck out on 3 pitches by replaced pitcher Huasca Brazoban and was unable to accumulate any hits.

Pittsburgh, who had been competing tightly until the top of the 8th inning, took the victory by scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 8th inning, but as the attack ended in front of Bae Ji-hwan’s at-bat, he was no longer given a chance to step up to the plate. Bae Ji-hwan finished the game without a hit that day, and finished the season with 104 hits, 2 home runs, 32 RBIs, 54 runs, 24 stolen bases, and a batting average of 0.231 in 111 games.

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