Just when you thought it was over, the KIA first base lineup shows signs of heating up again.
The returning Choi Won-jun (26) started in right field for Daejeon Hanwha on Tuesday. Of course, there was also a dimension of checking Choi’s competitiveness in the outfield. In reality, it was more of a way for Kim Jong-kook to utilize his 23-year-old outfielder Byun Woo-hyuk, who has been hitting well lately. Byun Woo-hyuk started at first base in the sixth spot.
Unlike Hwang Dae-in and Kim Seok-hwan, Byun survived the rush to the second team in late May. Based on his stats alone, there’s nothing to suggest he should be in the second team, but paradoxically, he’s showing why he should be in the first team these days. Despite his sparse playing time, he’s been on fire in his last 10 games, going 10-for-24 with a .417 batting average, two home runs, six RBIs, and five runs scored.
With Choi Won-jun taking over at first base upon his return, Byun Woo-hyuk’s benching seemed to have stuck, and indeed it did 메이저놀이터 for the last three games of the midweek series against Kiwoom. The good hitting of Lee Woo-sung and Lee Chang-jin made it difficult for Choi Won-jun to play in the outfield.
Byun Woo-hyuk, however, thrives in the worst situations. After making his presence felt with back-to-back long balls in the three-game home series against NC last weekend, he did the same against Hanwha today, hitting Jung Woo-ram’s changeup for a triple to left-center field in the sixth inning. It was a low, outside pitch. It wasn’t a bad throw by Jung, but a good hit by Byun Woo-hyuk.
SBS Sports commentator Lee Soon-cheol, who broadcast the three-game home series against NC, said that the key for Byun Woo-hyuk is “consistent opportunities. Even if his swing was rough, he praised his center of gravity from the lower body to the upper body. It was not a swing where the upper and lower body worked separately. His batting mechanics don’t waver when attacking a real changeup. Lee praised him for hitting the ball accurately before it breaks.
KIA is thirsty for big guns. Hwang Dae-in and Kim Seok-hwan struggled and were sent down to the second team. If Byun Woo-hyuk breaks out in this situation, he should be utilized more. If Byun Woo-hyuk shows a little more, the first base competition could get foggy again. Choi Won-jun must be nervous.
For Choi, it’s best to protect first base. He has to take into account the return of Na Sung-bum at the end of the month. Until he returns, he can still get playing time in the outfield. Lee Woo-sung, who has the best batting average, can be used in left field, and Choi Won-joon is no worse than Lee Chang-jin. Go Jong-wook has definitely slowed down lately. In game 10, Choi Won-jun was moved to right field, leaving Lee Chang-jin and Ko Jong-wook on the bench side-by-side, allowing Byun Woo-hyuk to get consistent playing time at first base.
In any case, once Na Sung-bum returns, the competition between Choi Won-joon and Byun Woo-hyuk for the first base position will be inevitable. Of course, if Na Sung-bum is the designated hitter, Byun Woo-hyuk could coexist at first base and Choi 토토 가입머니 즉시지급 Won-jun in right field. However, this would require Choi Hyung-woo to play left field and Lee Woo-sung to sit on the bench.
With Byun Woo-hyuk on the rise, Choi Won-jun would have to be on his toes. Also, Hwang Dae-in is a player who should eventually make it to the first team. If Kim Seok-hwan is added to the mix, the competition for the first base spot is a whopping 4:1 in the long run. It’s better for KIA to have a long-hitting player at first base. Now, it’s up to manager Kim Jong-kook to make a sober decision.