There is no such thing as ‘my place’ in the major leagues” Bae Ji-hwan, the keyword for 2024 is ‘competition


The Pittsburgh Pirates clubhouse, where the last game of the regular season was held on the 2nd (Korean time), was as cluttered as a classroom on a vacation day. The players were packing their belongings into boxes placed in each locker.

There was also a large box placed in front of Bae Ji-hwan’s locker. As he was packing up his belongings one by one, he looked at the reporter and said, “It’s hard,” and expressed his feelings about running the 162-game marathon.

Bae Ji-hwan recorded a batting average of 0.231, an on-base percentage of 0.296, a slugging percentage of 0.311, 2 home runs, 32 RBIs, and 24 stolen bases in 111 games this season.

Overall, the quality of the batted ball was not very good. He was in the 25th percentile with an average exit velocity of 88.1 mph, 2% in the percentile with a true hit rate of 2%, 25% with a hard hit rate (36.8%), 32% with a strikeout rate of 24.8%, and 44% with a walk rate of 8.1%.

Instead, he left a strong impression elsewhere. His base running was top-notch in the league. Sprint speed was in the 97th percentile. He also showed defensive ability above the league average with an OAA (Out Above Average) percentile of 55% and arm strength of 69%. He made some ridiculous mistakes, but at the same time, he showed defense that was worthy of being featured in sports news highlights.

He said, “I made a lot of immature plays. It’s unfortunate that he got hurt. It was encouraging that he was in the big leagues all year long. “Other than that, I personally had many regrets,” he said, looking back on the past year.

The keyword for his 2023 season, his first full-time big leaguer, was ‘growth’. I tried to show maturity and growth at the plate, in defense, and on base running.

Not all efforts lead to results, but there were some areas where progress was made. In the first half, he had 58 strikeouts (24.3%) and 18 walks (7.5%) in 239 plate appearances, and in the second half, he had 34 strikeouts (25.8%) and 12 walks (9.1%) in 132 plate appearances. His strikeout rate actually increased, but at the same time, his walk rate also increased.레모나토토

The defense also regained stability. He recorded nine defensive errors in 65 games until the home game against the Chicago Cubs on June 20, and then recorded only one error the rest of the season.

It was a great blessing for him to have a veteran who had gone through many hardships on the same team. I was especially fortunate to meet Andrew McCutchen.

Bae Ji-hwan called McCutchen ‘more like a coach than a coach.’

“It bothered me a lot at first. I did it because I wanted to learn. Center field defense was unfamiliar to me, so he started asking me questions, but perhaps he felt the will to do so, so he came first and told me about batting and base running. He even said that when he hit a home run and had a dunk ceremony, it reminded him of his rookie days. “I also knew (Kang) Jeong-ho, and we got along without hesitation from the start.”

McCutchen also previously said in an interview with ‘Pittsburgh Trip Live’, “Bae Ji-hwan is a very important piece of the puzzle. He is a player who can use his speed to get on base, steal bases, and create something. He gave a favorable review of Bae Ji-hwan, saying, “This is a very important part of the team.”

If 2023 was a year of growth, 2024 is a year of competition.

Pittsburgh won 76 games this season, 14 more than last season, with young players showing promise. Many young players, including top prospects Henry Davis and Endy Rodriguez, showed up and showed their potential. Coach Derek Shelton predicted that these young players will compete in spring training next year.

Competition is expected to be fiercer for the second base position than for center field. Pittsburgh used eight second basemen this season, and six of them, including Bae Ji-hwan, are likely to start the season in Pittsburgh uniforms next year.

Bae Ji-hwan expressed his thoughts on competition, saying, “It’s a repetition of competition until I sign a contract,” and “I don’t think there is a word called ‘my place’ in the major league.”

There is no special ‘secret’ to win the competition. He said, “We have no choice but to improve in terms of numbers and performance. He has to show that ‘he’s growing up.’ “Next year will be the year when the excuse of being a rookie will no longer apply,” he said, strengthening his resolve.

The offseason is going to be busy.

The first thing to do is look at the ankle condition that has plagued him throughout the season. I plan to visit an ankle injury specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina to get a checkup.

He said, “We will make a plan by looking at whether to do rehabilitation, surgery, or just leave it alone. He heard that there are several types of surgery. “If you undergo surgery, the rehabilitation period will vary depending on the type.”

Next, they fly to Los Angeles, California, on the other side of the continent, to conduct a preliminary field trip for off-season training. Before joining the spring camp, I am planning to train with Pittsburgh senior Kang Jeong-ho and Lotte former coach Heo Il.

“I’m going to practice batting with help from these two. There are some things that go well with them, but since (Kang) Jeong-ho was successful with leg kicks in the major leagues, I also have a lot of questions. “I’m going to go and try to learn.”

Afterwards, I return to Korea. He plans to welcome his life partner in a wedding ceremony in early January.

It will be a time to grow and mature further as a player and person. These experiences will become the flesh and blood he needs to swim through the rough seas of competition in 2024.

A payoff pitch is a ball thrown by a pitcher with 3 balls, 2 strikes, and a full count. If I were to translate it, it would be something like ‘crystal ball.’ This ball can be a heavy fastball, sometimes a sharp breaking ball, and sometimes a misfire. Just as the ball that leaves the pitcher’s hand no longer belongs to the pitcher, the writing that leaves the reporter’s hand no longer belongs to the reporter. It is up to the reader to decide.

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