Geopo Corps Doosan Bears started again. 

Doosan outfielder Kim Jae-hwan had a comeback match at Cheongbaekjeon on the 28th of last month. It was his comeback after undergoing surgery to remove a bone fragment in his right elbow after the end of last season. 

After the surgery, he spent January only in individual training, and after participating in team training only in February, he delayed his actual start. Kim Jae-hwan played only one at-bat, but was impressive enough. Kim Jae-hwan hit a 145km/h fastball thrown by pitcher Kim Dong-joo and hit a left-handed home run. The Doosan club said, “Kim Jae-hwan will gradually increase the number of times he stands at bat and adjust the feeling of hitting.”

Kim Jae-hwan is Doosan’s ‘key man’ this season. Doosan fell to 9th place last season (60 wins, 82 losses, 2 draws). It was difficult to find the appearance of the dynasty that had advanced to the Korean Series (KS) for 7 consecutive years until 2021. In particular, the lack of long hitting power of the other line was serious. With 101 team homers and a slugging percentage of 0.365, they all ranked 8th in the KBO League.

At the center of the problem was Kim Jae-hwan. After completing the 2021 season, Kim Jae-hwan, who obtained FA (free agent) qualifications, signed a large contract with Doosan for 4 years and 11.5 billion won and remained. What Doosan expected was a home run. He hit 35 or more home runs in three consecutive years from 2016 to 2018. In particular, he even won MVP (Most Valuable Player) in the regular season with 44 home runs in 2018. Even in 2021, right before free agency, he led the team with 27 homers.

That’s why he fell short of expectations from the first year of his FA contract. He had a batting average of 0.248 and 23 home runs. His combined OPS of on-base percentage (0.340) and slugging percentage (0.460) was just 0.8. If he was another hitter, he could have been evaluated as having been compliant, but since he was Kim Jae-hwan, the evaluation followed that he was disappointing.

After a disappointing 2022, Doosan seeks a turnaround. Yang Eui-ji was recruited with a total of 15.2 billion won, the highest amount ever, and Kim Jae-hwan is aiming for the finish line. It was also Kim Jae-hwan who coach Lee Seung-yeop, who was the best home run hitter in the KBO league, visited before the inauguration ceremony. 

At the time, coach Lee said to Kim Jae-hwan, “If the 4th hitter (Kim Jae-hwan) had hit 40 home runs, the team would have reached 130 home runs. . 안전놀이터

Doosan relieved Kim Jae-hwan of the burden. After Park Kun-woo left, Yang Eui-ji returned to the center batting line maintained by Yang Seok-hwan and Kim Jae-hwan. Hitting coach Goto Kochi, who raised him as an MVP in 2018, recalled during finishing training, “One of the reasons for Kim Jae-hwan’s good performance at the time was that there was a good hitter named Eui-ji Yang in the 5th.” With the arrival of Yang Eui-ji, the balance of the center batting line has changed. 

He gave up the captaincy and relieved the mental burden. Heo Gyeong-min will be the captain of Doosan this season. Heo Gyeong-min smiled and cheered, saying, “In the meantime, Jae-hwan has quietly played the role of the team’s captain and main gun.

Yang Eui-ji is a slugger who can expect more than 20 homers every year with a career batting average of 0.307. Yang Seok-hwan was also in good condition. In the match against Cheongbaek held on the 4th, he made a big success with 4 hits, 3 RBIs and 3 runs in 5 at-bats, including 1 home run.

If Kim Jae-hwan returns healthy, Doosan will only have three long hitters who can guarantee more than 20 homers. Doosan is the only league in the league to have three hitters who hit 20 or more homers last season, even if foreign batters are combined. Considering that foreign hitter Jose Rojas’ batting evaluation is not bad, the destructive power of Doosan’s center line is the best in the league.

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