Doosan Bears head coach Lee Seung-yeop has identified No. 4 batsman Kim Jae-hwan as a key player ahead of the start of the second half of the season. For the team to steadily build up its win total, Kim Jae-hwan needs to step up his game.
“If Kim Jae-hwan can hit, our team can get more strength,” Lee said after the team’s training session at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the morning of the 20th. “Kim Jae-hwan needs to show a stronger performance in the second half than in the first half.”
Doosan won all nine games in July, starting with the Ulsan Lotte Giants on the 1st and ending with the Incheon SSG Landers on the 12th. They were in sixth place with 33 wins, 36 losses and one draw through June, but jumped to sole possession of third place with a nine-game winning streak at the end of the first half.
However, Kim struggled in nine games in July, going 5-for-33 with a .152 batting average, one home run, three RBIs, and a .555 OPS. His overall season numbers also fell short of expectations, with a .240 batting average, seven home runs, 29 RBIs, and a .726 OPS.
Doosan’s offensive firepower was also less sharp amid Kim’s struggles. They ranked near the bottom in key offensive metrics, including sixth in team batting average at 0.257, seventh in team runs scored (333) and ninth in team RBIs (304).
Finishing in the top half of the standings would have been difficult without Yang, who returned as a free agent this season, anchoring the offence with a .335 average with eight home runs, 40 RBIs, six doubles and a .934 OPS in 75 games.
That’s why coach Lee Seung-yeop is desperate to see a rebound from Kim Jae-hwan. He knows that Kim Jae-hwan’s unique ‘one hit’ can change the course of a game, so he hopes he can break out of his slump in the second half.
“His overall performance during the nine-game winning streak at the end of the first half was poor,” said Lee Seung-yeop, “but he hit a home run against Samsung’s Oh Seung-hwan in Pohang on 4 July. This is the charm of players with long batting power. I remember the impactful hit because it was a game-winning home run, a long hit that came at a crucial time.”
“Kim Jae-hwan was good at the beginning of the season, but as the season went on, (his hitting) got worse and worse,” he said. “In fact, there is a shift in the opponent’s defence, and because he is a long-hitting player, pitchers are concentrating on him.”온라인바카
However, Lee believes that Kim Jae-hwan is capable of overcoming his current struggles. “The opposing pitchers throw more balls than strikes, so I think it will be better if I utilise this aspect well. I think he will prepare well in consultation with the hitting coach,” he added.