As his performance clearly showed signs of decline, words such as “aging curve” and “retirement” were constantly mentioned. However, he successfully recovered his reputation with a batting average of around 30 percent. This is the story of veteran outfielder Choi Hyung-woo (KIA Tigers).
Choi Hyung-woo, who played for only one Samsung Lions team since his debut and moved to a free agency after the end of the 2016 season, contributed to the team’s unified victory with 176 hits in 514 times at bat in 142 games with a batting average of 0.342 and 26 home runs with 120 RBIs and an OPS of 1.026, the first year of his transfer. It continued its upward trend in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Choi, however, was somewhat sluggish with 87 hits in 104 games and 373 at-bats in 2021, posting a batting average of 0.233 with 12 homers and 55 RBIs and an OPS of 0.729. It was the first year in which Choi had no hit in 100 games since 2008, the first full-time season.
Choi had a batting average of 0.264 and 14 homers with 71 RBIs and an OPS of 0.787 in 132 games last year. Although his performance was better than that of the previous year in terms of figures, it is true that he did not meet expectations. 토토사이트
However, things have been different this year. Choi played in 121 games this season and recorded 130 hits from 431 times at bat with a batting average of 0.302 with 17 homers and 81 RBIs with an OPS of 0.887, finishing the season with a batting average of over 0.300 for the first time in three years since 2020 (0.354). Although his team failed to advance to the postseason, Choi’s struggles helped Kia to advance to the quarterfinals.
“Since I came to the awards ceremony three years ago, I never thought I would be able to come to this place,” said Choi Hyung-woo, who won the 2023 Professional Baseball Sports Seoul Award at the Eliena Hotel in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul on Tuesday. “I am so grateful for this great award.”
Choi Hyung-woo also said, “It was a disappointing year for our team and for me personally, but it wasn’t just unfortunate. There was not much difference from the top team, so I also saw hope,” adding, “I will try to fill in the gaps so that I can greet you from a higher place next year.”
KIA had many injuries this season. Key players including Kim Do-young, Na Sung-bum and Park Chan-ho suffered from major and minor injuries. Second-year infielder Kim Do-young sustained a thumb injury while sliding on the first base headfirst during the Asian Professional Baseball Championship 2023 final last month, and will spend about four months rehabilitation due to diagnosis of a ruptured medial collateral ligament and a scoliosis fracture in the midossegmental joint.
What did Choi say to his juniors when the team was going through such a difficult time? “The team’s strength has weakened a lot as the juniors got hurt, but I didn’t think it was a big deal. Everyone has to go through personal issues, so if someone gets hurt, it will be a stimulus if they work hard to get other players to take the position,” Choi said.
Choi believes his juniors will be able to do it just like he made a dramatic rebound. “I was released from Samsung and came all the way here, and there are a lot of players like me. If I keep working hard without giving up, I think I will do well not only in baseball but also in other fields,” Choi advised.
When asked to select the player he expects from Kia next year, Choi said, “I’m looking forward to it. I think I’m telling you (that I’m looking forward to) in order to show you a better performance next year,” and added, “Honestly, I don’t know how long I can do it. As long as I can, I’ll continue as long as the team wants.”