Doosan Bears ace Kwak Bin, 24, has had the season of his life this year. Starting with the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, he was called up to the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games and the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC). In the regular season, he was the ace of Doosan’s domestic lineup. In 23 games, he posted a 12-7 record, 127 1/3 innings pitched, and a 2.90 ERA. He was second on the team in wins and innings pitched behind ace Raul Alcantara, fully establishing himself as the team’s mainstay.굿모닝토토 주소
Speaking to reporters at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on the 25th, Kwak said, “I think it was a year where I really leveled up. There were some things I didn’t do well and some things I did well, but I always felt like I grew more every time I went to the national team three times. I watched baseball in other countries and thought I should do better, and I thought I should work harder,” he said, reflecting on the year.
Even though he felt he had improved, he wasn’t satisfied. Having experienced three international competitions, he was naturally humbled. Watching Moon Dong-joo (20), a gold medalist at the Hangzhou Asian Games and Kwak Bin’s roommate, was more enlightening. Moon turned heads at the start of the year when he became the first Korean pitcher to throw a 160-kilometer-per-hour fastball, and he has been dubbed the “next ace” for his consistency in international competition. While Kwak has the edge in terms of regular-season stats – 8-8 in 23 games, 118⅔ innings pitched, and a 3.72 ERA – the potential is far more intimidating than the numbers alone.
“To put it bluntly, Dong-ju is scary. I don’t know how much bigger she’s going to get, she’s really untouchable. I’m already done. You have to admit it. I think Dong Zhu will play at the top of the league next year,” he said, sincerely praising his junior.
We don’t have to go all the way to Moon Dong-ju. The team’s junior left-hander, Choi Seung-yong (22), who accompanied him to the APBC, is also showing rapid growth, much to Kwak’s relief. In 34 games this year, Choi has a 3-6 record, one save, 111 innings pitched, and a 3.97 ERA as a swingman, and in the APBC, he helped South Korea to a runner-up finish as a left-handed pitcher.
“When I watched (Choi) pitch in the APBC, I thought that if he pitched like that during the season, he would have done much better. I think it’s an international pitch. The ball was really good, so I felt more pressure. I thought, “What if Seung-ri can do this and I can’t? I was so intimidated at the APBC. I always feel insecure. I have to perform better for at least five years,” he said.
Kwak Bin was the starting pitcher in the APBC final against Korea. He pitched five innings of five-hit ball (one home run), three walks, six strikeouts and one earned run against the world No. 1 Japan, making up for the fact that he missed the Asian Games due to gout. Although South Korea finished as runners-up, falling 3-4 in 10 extra innings, Kwak did his part.
“I was under a lot of pressure from the moment I was selected for the APBC. I tried to take it easy, but it didn’t work out because I wasn’t throwing as well as I thought I should. I asked my teammates to help me do better in the national team, even if it wasn’t as good as in the season, and it turned out okay,” he said.
“Japanese hitters are really good at hitting fastballs. They don’t know me, but they’re the first hitters I’ve faced, and they’ve seen me get hurt, and they hit the fastball really well. This time, I really focused on each pitch and threw with precision. I don’t want to make the same mistakes, so I’m going to have to learn from that and take it into next year’s season.”
With this year’s experience under his belt, he is determined to improve next year. “It was a season where I gained a lot of confidence,” said Kwak Bin. Being a national team member doesn’t mean I want to do it again, but you have to be lucky and talented. It made me want to go further than the third time. Every time I go to the national team, I realize that I still have a long way to go and that I’m not good enough. Next year, I will do my best to stay injury-free and complete the regulation innings.”