In the first year of achieving his dream of becoming a professional baseball player, rookie Roh Si-hwan thought, “I want to quit baseball.” This is because he felt the gap between the ideal and the reality. A graduate of Gyeongnam High School, he was considered the ‘biggest wildcat’ in the 2019 KBO Rookie Draft and was nominated by Hanwha as the third choice in the second round in the first round. Roh’s confidence ahead of his professional debut was sky high. At that time, he depicted a rosy future that he continued in 2019 with the ‘throbbing sensation’ caused by Lee Jung-hoo (2017) and Kang Baek-ho (2018).헤라카지노
However, the professional stage was not as easy as I thought. Rookie Noh Si-hwan’s final performance in the 2019 season was 0.186 with a batting average of one home run, 13 RBIs and an OPS (on-base plus slugging) of 0.501 in 91 games. “I was so bad at baseball. I felt skeptical about my talent,” Noh said in an interview with a reporter at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Monday. “I really wanted to quit baseball because I got cursed at a lot.” It was his first failure in a professional career.
Hanwha’s Noh Si-hwan is practicing batting before the game against Doosan at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the 6th. June 6, 2023/Senior Reporter Jung Ji-yoon
■Homerun king created by numerous failures and setbacks
“I played the season with the mindset of ‘Lee Jung-hoo, Kang Baek-ho and Noh Si-hwan,’ and I hit 0.18 percent.” Noh smiled as if he was dumbfounded. Still, his experience of seeing the bitter taste of a professional player early provided valuable foundation for him to grow later on. “Coach Han Yong-deok took me to the first team and gave me a chance to play,” Noh said. “If I hadn’t experienced the challenges and barriers of being a professional player at that time, it would have taken longer for me to achieve good results.”
Having shown off his qualities as a “big shot” by hitting 12 home runs in the 2020 season after being labeled a “newbie,” Noh continued to grow steadily by hitting 18 home runs in the 2021 season. After recovering some confidence, Noh will suffer his second failure in his fourth year as a professional player. In the 2022 season, he recorded the highest batting average (0.281) since his debut, but his home runs dropped to six. “The number of home runs has to keep increasing, but I was shocked when I hit six last year,” Noh confessed.
Roh Si-hwan celebrates his home run. Courtesy of Hanwha
There were batting performance indicators that improved his batting average, but it did not catch his eye that he wanted to become a “homer.” It is said that he thought that if this continues, there would be no improvement. In the closing camp, which took place after the end of the 2022 season, Noh changed his batting posture by focusing on “long and long hits” with batting coach Kim Nam-hyung, and prepared for the 2023 season with determined determination. However, he has had a bad feeling of hitting throughout the spring camp, when results of changes should be made even at all.
“I was frustrated that I couldn’t prepare anything during the closing camp and off-season at all,” he said. “I pushed on to the end as my coach advised me that if I change it in the middle, I could lose mine.” The result I wanted came out in the exhibition game before the opening of the season. Noh had five home runs in 12 exhibition games, posting a slugging ratio of 0.971. “I originally pushed a lot of home runs. It meant that the ‘hit point’ was late,” he said. “I didn’t have many home runs pulled while playing baseball, but most of them did this time. I thought it was not unusual.”
Hanwha Noh Si-hwan poses with an interview with a sports trend at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on the 21st. December 21, 2023. Senior reporter Jung Ji-yoon
However, the regular season was different again. In April, Noh only had two home runs. He almost shook his mind as he thought, “Do I have to swing bigger?” Since May, Noh has been keeping his swing steadily, and started to increase the number of home runs rapidly. Even when he was hitless at 43 consecutive times at bat at one point in May, he did not touch his batting form. He produced another hit after 44 at-bats, and the hit that he garnered was a homerun. This scene clearly shows the direction he set this season.
Noh Si-hwan’s final performance in the 2023 season was 0.298 with 31 home runs, 101 RBIs and 0.929. He became the KBO’s home run king and RBI king, and was recognized as the KBO’s best hitter this year, with the third baseman Golden Glove in his arms. “The biggest harvest this year was to win the title of home run king in his first year when he challenged big changes,” Noh said.
■ Hanwha, Lee Jung-hoo, Ohtani… Next keyword for legend
Noh Si-hwan has stood out in various international competitions as well as in the KBO League. Notably, he won the gold medal as the fourth batter for the Korean national team at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, and showed off his reputation as an international hitter at the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC). After a hectic year going back and forth at home and abroad, Noh reiterated the importance of steadiness. “There are many players who have shone all year round. What’s really great is to consistently produce good results,” he said.
Roh recalled Lee Jung-hoo, who recently signed a six-year, $113 million contract with the San Francisco Giants of the U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB). “I think it is really cool that he has consistent performance every year with few injuries,” he said. Roh also has a dream to advance to the big league. Of course, there are conditions. Becoming a player who is recognized by everyone in the KBO league comes first. “I have dreamed of playing in the MLB since I was young. I want to challenge myself when everyone acknowledges me with applause like (Lee) Jung-hoo,” Noh said. “I still have a lot to show. I want to go to the U.S. as I gain more career opportunities in Korea and get applause for my dream.”
Hanwha Noh Si-hwan expresses his feelings after winning the RBI and home run award in the batter category at the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Awards held at the Westin Chosun Hotel in Sogong-dong, Seoul on the 27th. Senior reporter Jung Ji-yoon on November 27, 2023
He dreams of a higher emergency with Hanwha in the 2024 season.