Hanwha has finally found a new foreign bat to replace O’Grady.
The Hanwha Eagles announced in a press release on April 18 that they have signed Nick Williams, a left-handed hitting outfielder from the United States, for a total of $450,000 ($150,000 signing bonus, $250,000 salary, and $50,000 incentive) to replace Brian O’Grady. “I want to help the team win as many games as possible and finish the season on a high note,” Williams said after signing, “and I can’t wait to meet the Eagles fans.”메이저놀이터
Williams, who has played mostly in right field in the big leagues, made his big league debut with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2017 and spent four seasons with the Chicago White Sox, batting .251 with 31 home runs, 110 RBIs and 109 runs scored in 294 games. He spent last year and this year playing for the Mexican League’s Toros de Tijuana instead of in the United States. Williams is expected to arrive sometime this weekend after finalizing the necessary administrative procedures, including obtaining a visa.
A first baseman instead of an active big leaguer
Hanwha spent a season with a foreign hitter last year in Mike Tuckman (Chicago Cubs). Tuckman, a batting average of .289 with 12 home runs, 43 RBIs, 88 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases, played in every game last year as Hanwha’s starting center fielder. While he didn’t break out in the league like Jose Pirela (Samsung Lions), he was still good enough to be considered for a second contract as he led the team in batting average, hits, runs scored, and home runs.
However, Hanwha declined to re-sign Tuckman after last year’s season. Tuckman’s relatively low home run and RBI totals last year, as well as his .216 batting average in scoring position, as he was primarily used as a leadoff hitter, did not satisfy Hanwha. In fact, with a decent table-setter in Jeong Eun-won, what Hanwha really needed was a big bat who could produce a lot of home runs and RBIs in the center field, not someone like Tuckman.
The new player Hanwha acquired last December for a total of $900,000 was O’Grady, a left-handed slugger. O’Grady has just four home runs and 12 RBIs in his big league career, but he’s proven to be a long ball player, hitting 28 home runs and 77 RBIs at Triple-A in 2019. O’Grady also played for the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball last year, where he hit 15 home runs, good for second on the team.
However, Hanwha was so focused on his 15 home runs in Nippon Professional Baseball that they overlooked the fact that O’Grady had a .213 batting average last year, the lowest of any Pacific League hitter in regulation. O’Grady, who swings for the fences, ended his two-month stint in Korea on May 31 when he was claimed off waivers after starting the year with an embarrassing .125 batting average with no home runs, eight RBIs, three runs scored, and a .337 on-base percentage (OPS) in 22 games.
Even more unfortunate was the performance of Tuckman, whom Hanwha declined to re-sign. Signed to a minor league deal with the Cubs, Tuckman hit a respectable .278 with three home runs, 15 RBIs, and 17 runs scored in Triple-A before being called up to the big leagues on May 19 in place of Cody Bellinger, who was placed on the disabled list. Tuckman has now played 26 games in the big leagues, batting .280 with nine RBIs, 12 runs scored and two doubles. As a result, Hanwha gave up big-leaguer Tuckman to acquire O’Grady.
’31 home runs in the big leagues’ Williams, if only he could hit…
After making his big league debut in June 2017 at the age of 23, Williams immediately took over as the Phillies’ starting right fielder, batting .288 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs in 83 games (for reference, the Phillies also had a Korean hitter in 2017, Kim Hyun-soo, who plays for the LG Twins). In 2018, Williams continued to be Philadelphia’s starting right fielder, hitting .256 with 17 home runs and 50 RBIs in 140 games.
However, the below-average defender failed to show much improvement at the plate and struggled in 2019, batting .151 with two home runs and five RBIs before being released by the team in August 2020. Williams moved to the Chicago White Sox in 2021, but was released after just four games, and spent last year and this year in the Mexican League instead of the major leagues. He was on the radar of Hanwha, which was looking for a new foreign bat to replace O’Grady.
The Mexican League is known for being a traditional ride-or-die league, so you can’t take his performance in the Mexican League with 100% confidence. However, Williams’ performance in the Mexican League is impressive. Last year, he hit .370 with 29 home runs and 72 RBIs, and this year, he’s batting .304 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs. If he can bring that kind of hitting to Korea from the Mexican League, it could be a huge boost for Hanwha’s offense.
With a 31-homer career in the big leagues and a steady presence in the Mexican League, the Hanwha organization and fans, including head coach Choi Won-ho, will be hoping that Williams can produce a lot of power in the center field alongside Noh Si-hwan and Chae Eun-sung. If he can do as well as Willin Rosario, who hit 70 home runs and 231 RBIs in his two years with Hanwha, or as well as Gerard Hoying did in the 2018 season, the O’Grady nightmare can be forgotten.
In fact, Williams hasn’t gotten a lot of praise for his defense in the big leagues. However, the Rangers are hoping that even if he can’t play defense and is a designated hitter, he can be a solid presence at the plate. Brandon Barnes, Ryon Healy, Hernan Perez, and O’Grady. Williams will arrive on Korean soil with the important task of healing the wounds of Hanwha fans, who have suffered through a string of underperforming foreign hitters with the exception of Tuckman last year.