After a brief slowdown, Choi Hyung-woo (39-KIA Tigers) has returned to his RBI production pace. Every game is history.메이저놀이터
Choi Hyung-woo set the KBO’s all-time individual RBI record with a two-run home run off Han Seung-ju in the top of the fourth inning against the Hanwha Eagles on March 20. He became the first player to surpass 1,500 RBIs, knocking Doosan Bears manager Lee Seung-yeop (1,498) into second place. Choi considered RBIs to be the most important record for a center fielder, and he had been chasing the record for several years.
Since then, Choi’s hitting has fallen off a bit. He showed signs of rejuvenation by batting .313 in his first 59 games against Hanwha on October 20, but he hit just .111 in his next nine games. He had no home runs and only two RBIs.
Yang Hyun-jong, the team’s junior and longest-serving pitcher, also saw his pace suddenly slow down after he surpassed MBC Sports Plus commentator Jung Min-chul for second place on the career wins list (162) on May 27 against the LG Twins.
Choi bounced back last week with his signature bat after KIA dropped to ninth place and made a concerted effort to rebound with a trade (for catcher Kim Tae-gun) and an all-foreign pitching staff. Against the SSG Landers on June 6, he hit two home runs against the league’s top pitcher, Kim Kwang-hyun, to lead KIA to a 7-6 victory. He read Kwang-hyun’s pitch mix well against a changeup-heavy lineup. He threw a changeup and a slider. He also reached a milestone in the home run department, becoming only the second player in history to hit double-digit home runs for 16 consecutive years.
In the first game of the weekend’s three-game series against the KT Wiz the following day (July 7), Choi hit a two-run single to left off pitcher Son Dong-hyun in the top of the eighth inning with the score tied 2-2. Kia scored three more runs in the ninth to win 6-2, with Choi Hyung-woo delivering the game-winning hit.
Choi, who also had back-to-back multi-hit games in Games 2 and 3 of KT’s three-game series, added another RBI to push his career total to 1506.
KIA won all five games last week to move up from ninth to sixth place. The return of Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young from injury rehab is starting to pay off. The batting lineup is a mix of long balls and mobility.
With five straight wins, KIA improved to 35 wins (1 tie, 38 losses) on the season and closed to within one game of the fifth-place NC Dinos. Choi Hyung-woo said after the SSG game on April 16, when he hit two home runs to demolish Kim Kwang-hyun, “I felt bad for the juniors because I haven’t been hitting well lately. I was lucky to get a multi-homer game. I will maintain my current batting form until the end of the first half. I hope the team can win many of the remaining games and finish the first half with a five-game winning percentage.”
KIA will play a three-game home series against the Samsung Lions starting on the 11th. If they win all three, Choi’s wish will be fulfilled.