In order for Lotte Giants to achieve their goal of entering the postseason (PS) for the first time in seven years in the new season, they must take off the question mark that follows the “center line.”헤라카지노
In baseball, the “center line” refers to a catcher, second baseman, shortstop, and center fielder who defend in the center.
Lotte’s center line has been weak in recent years. That’s why it recruited catchers Yoo Kang-nam and shortstop Noh Jin-hyeok last year for a total of 8 billion won (8 million U.S. dollars) and 5 billion won (free agent) for four years, respectively. Including second baseman An Chi-hong, who was brought in for up to 5.6 billion won (2.3 million dollars) for two plus two years, most of the center line was filled with external transfusions and operated. Even key center fielder Kim Min-seok looked new.
It is essential to strengthen the center line in the 2024 season, when head coach Kim Tae-hyung took the helm.
Catcher Yoo Kang-nam’s performance in offense and defense is important. The KBO League will test-run pitch clock in conjunction with the Automatic Ball-Strike System (ABS) in the 2024 season. It is expected to introduce the second half of the season at the earliest. In this case, pitchers will be limited in the number of times they check runners, which will strengthen baseball where they run, including stolen bases. The expansion of base size is certain to increase stolen bases. If so, a catcher’s throwing ability is important. Yoo Kang-nam, his flagship catcher, has a low blocking rate of stolen bases for the past three years at 0.206 (62 out of 301). He also desperately needs a rebound in his batting average, which only amounted to 0.261 with 10 homers and 55 RBIs in the first season of his transfer. As Lotte’s slugging ability has declined, he has high expectations on Yoo’s shoulder.
Since 2018, Noh has been the slowest in his first season as the starting shortstop for six consecutive seasons. He had a batting average of 0.257 with four homers and 51 RBIs in a total of 113 games. The same was true for defense. With the injury, he played in 113 games, and when Noh left the team, Lotte lost momentum and crashed. Shortstop Noh should take the center stage and rebound.
Second baseman and center fielder are in the fog. Ahn Chi-hong, the main second baseman and captain, transferred to the Hanwha Eagles as a free agent for up to 7.2 billion won (approx. Ahn Chi-hong played in 121 games last year and showed an unwavering performance with 0.292 eight homers and 63 RBIs. Filling his vacancy has become an important task this season.
Lotte brought multiplayer Oh Sun-jin and Choi Hang through the second draft. Ko Seung-min, who had previously turned to outfield along with Park Seung-wook, was also brought back to the infield. It is expected that fierce competition will take place in the spring camp.
Lotte outfielders Yoon Dong-hee (left) and Kim Min-seok. Photo = Courtesy of Lotte
Last year, Lotte’s main center fielder was Kim Min-seok, but it is unknown who will play the rest of the center line as he brought in outfielder Victor Reyes for a total of 950,000 dollars as a new foreign hitter. Kim Min-seok, who was an infielder at Hwimoon High School, turned into an outfielder upon joining Lotte and made his own successful debut, but he was not strong in throwing or defense. This was why Lotte worked hard to recruit an outfielder if he was not a big-name infielder.
Reyes can play all outfield positions. Analysts say that he has an average level of outfield defense even in a highly competitive big league. “He will be a more competitive outfielder in the KBO League,” a club source said. “He will upgrade our team’s outfield defense.” Just like the second baseman, Kim Tae-hyung is expected to streamline traffic for outfielders.