LG Twins leadoff Hong Chang-ki (30)’s pace at the beginning of the 2023 season is surprising even to himself. He has an on-base percentage of 0.696 thanks to his excellent batting skills and pioneering eye. However, he, who leads the league in on-base percentage, has only hit home once in five games.
Hong Chang-ki said ahead of the game against LG in Gocheok on the 5th, “I think the pace is too good. I’m thinking that I should be more careful at times like this because there are a lot of hits.”
The secret was thorough body management and an active approach. Hong Chang-ki said, “Last year, I couldn’t play in many games due to injury, so there was a part where my balance was a little disturbed. I felt that I needed to pay more attention to my injuries, and I do a lot of strengthening exercises and massages. The training coaches are also good at managing the batting coverage.” The part where I try to hit a little more aggressively and boldly without making any changes is the part that is different from the end of last season.”
In fact, Hong Chang-ki ended the season smoothly with multi-hits in three consecutive games. He also regained the familiar number 1 hitter position in the 5th game thanks to consecutive hits in the lower batting order. In response, he replied, “It would be a lie if I said it wasn’t regretful that I went down to the bottom of the batting order. But I thought I’d do my best in the position I was in because it wasn’t something I could decide.”
Even after returning as the first batter, his on-base ability remained the same. In the match against Gocheok LG on the 5th and 6th, he added only one hit, but he got 5 walks, which was more than a multi-hit effect. It was a pity that there was no reward for leaving. The six base hits he picked and picked were cut in half due to three failed base steals, and he failed to score any runs. So far, Hong Chang-ki has attempted the most base steals in the league (6 times), but he has not seen much benefit with a success rate of 33.3%.
This season, LG coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop advocated baseball in which all players actively steal bases, and as a result, LG is showing an overwhelming number of stolen base attempts (20). The number of attempts by LG’s team to steal is close to half of the entire league (48 times), and it is a significant difference from 4 times by 4 teams other than Kiwoom, who attempted the second most bases.
The image that all players play is definitely a burden to the opponent. In fact, Kiwoom second baseman Kim Hye-seong, who I met on the 6th, said, “LG players run a lot. From a defensive standpoint, I always get nervous, and when defending, I keep looking at first base.” 안전놀이터
Unfortunately, the effect is insignificant. LG’s team steals 13, which is a big difference from the 2nd place group’s 4, but the success rate is not high at 65%. In the case of Hong Chang-ki, who has a 70% successful base stealing rate and has a decent run sense, it is rather poisonous. On the day of the 3rd attempt to steal, the opponent’s battery read Hong Chang-ki’s movements and caught them with ease.
As coach Yeom has a theory that various attempts should be made at the beginning of the season when sexual burden is less, there is a high possibility that Hong Chang-ki will continue to try to steal for a while. However, if it is not accompanied by an excellent stolen base success rate, the best leadoff value in the league is likely to be cut in half like this Gocheok 3-game series.
Hong Chang-ki is a player who does his part enough with his on-base ability alone. And the hitters who follow Moon Sung-joo, Kim Hyun-soo, Austin Dean, and Oh Ji-hwan have the ability to bring Hong Chang-ki home at any time. After going through trial and error in the beginning, how will Hong Chang-ki show in the second half of the season? The player himself already knows the answer.
Hong Chang-ki expressed his determination, “I think that an on-base rate of 30/8 is higher. I am a hitter who always prioritizes on-base, so I aim to maintain an on-base ratio of 3/8 or higher.”