The two magical characters of ‘Bomde (Lotte that is only good at spring)’ have long functioned as a curse on the Lotte Giants and a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. At the beginning of the season, when Lotte is on a winning streak, the word that comes out without fail is ‘Bomde’. “In the spring, even if the New York Yankees come, they can’t easily beat it,” is a proverb (?) circulating in the baseball world.
Experts appearing on the show intensively analyze the cause of Lotte’s initial storm, stimulating fans’ anticipation to the fullest. In the media, fans are tortured with hopeful titles such as “This year’s fall baseball Ghana,” “Lotte has changed,” and “This year is not spring.” Lotte coaches and players also emphasize in interviews that this year’s Lotte is different from the past, saying, “The team’s power has become stronger,” “The team atmosphere is good,” and “I gain strength from the fans’ support.”
However, like the providence of nature when the flowers fade and spring passes, Lotte’s performance gradually declines as the season goes on, and when the season ends, only the ‘password’, which is a combination of numbers between 6th and 9th, remains. And when the Winter Stove League comes, the club, players, and media once again gaslight with one voice, ‘It’s really different next year’, and the fans hold out hope once more, knowing that they will be deceived again. Tragedy for Lotte fans, this pattern, which looks like a comedy from a distance, has been repeated every year since 2017, when Lotte last entered fall baseball. Marx said that history repeats itself twice, but Lotte’s fall baseball failures are repeated not twice but five times in a row. And that, too, is only dotted with tragedy, not comedy.
The actual win rate is higher than the expected win rate… lucky?
Lotte’s early run is unusual this season as well. Lotte received a report card of 14 wins and 8 losses with a win rate of 0.636 for the month of April. It finished April at number 1 overall. It was the first time in 13 years since 2010, when coach Jerry Royster, that it has won 8 consecutive wins, and since 2012, when it was coach Seung-ho Yang, it took the lead in the league alone in 11 years. In May, the first match, against KIA on the 2nd, was decorated with victory, and it succeeded in making a record of 9 consecutive wins in 15 years since 2008.
Although the 10-game winning streak failed, and heavy rain poured around Children’s Day, it was steamed for four days in a row due to rain, but after that, it recorded 1 win and 1 loss with Doosan. As of May 10th, it still recorded a win rate of 60% and was in second place, two games behind the first place SSG Landers. Fans look at Lotte with the feeling of being deceived for the last time, with the expectation that ‘this time it will be different’. On the other hand, those who cynically say ‘Spring Day’ are waiting to see when and how Lotte will fall. Could it really be different this year? Should I trust Lotte this time?
In fact, if you look at the results revealed, Lotte’s winning streak at the beginning of the season can be seen as an unexpected result. Based on games played until May 10, Lotte scored 126 points in offense and allowed 129 points in defense. Baseball is a sport in which you win by scoring more points or conceding fewer runs than your opponent. In the long run, it is difficult for a team to achieve a high winning rate if the number of goals scored is greater than the number of goals scored. Lotte’s expected win rate, calculated by actual goals and runs, is 0.489, which is much lower than the actual win rate (0.600), ranking 6th out of 10 clubs. The expected win rates of the four teams that are lower than themselves are better than Lotte.
Let’s just look at the April results. The only pitcher who played a role in Lotte’s starting lineup was Na Gyun-an (4 wins, undefeated), who was a candidate for the ‘5th starting lineup’. In the other lineup, not a single player ranked in the top 20 in OPS, and Ahn Kwon-soo (April batting average 0.312) and Jack Rex (OPS 0.806) were threatening hitters. In April, Lotte’s team average ERA was 4.75, only ninth overall, and team OPS was 0.687, only 6th out of 10 teams. The defense indicator DER (defense efficiency), which indicates the rate of out-handling balls formed inside the fair area, was 0.652, which was last overall (league average 0.688). It’s hard to believe that he won 9 consecutive victories with this power and climbed to the top alone. For this reason, some cynical experts dismiss Lotte’s performance in April as a result of coincidence and luck.
Relentless and fast attack, defense to block the successor,
of course, there are opinions that put strength on the side of “this time is different”. A coach of a club who met Lotte as an opposing team in April said, “It definitely felt different from when I joined last year.” “I got the impression that Lotte has become a much tighter and more demanding team than in previous years. Both the batters and the pitchers showed strong concentration in important matches. From the 1st to the 9th inning, I felt like a ‘troublesome’ team.”
There are several indicators that show the reality of this ‘feeling’. The number of team bases is typical. As of May 10, Lotte recorded the lowest 383 bases among 10 clubs. And once a runner goes out, he hangs on persistently (76.1% cut rate after 2 strikes, 3rd place) and somehow hits the bat to make an in-play ball (a ball that is put into the field, not a foul) (contact rate 81.4%, 2nd place) , 13.2% swing miss, 1st in minimum standards, 16.4% strikeouts per plate appearance, 2nd in minimum standards), sending runners one more base (advance probability 28.2%, 4th), baseball that brings home (scoring batting average 0.315) , 2nd place) to minimize residual base.
It is also noticeable that he is actively trying to play ‘running baseball’ more than in previous years. With young and fast players such as Ahn Kwon-soo, Hwang Seong-bin, and Kim Min-seok filling the vacancy left by “Big Boy” Lee Dae-ho, Lotte transformed into a team that ranked 4th in team stolen bases (21 stolen bases, 75% success rate) and ranked high in various running indicators. Currently, the probability of scoring against Lotte’s running chance is 29.6%, which is 1st overall, and the average of additional bases is plus 6, which is 2nd overall. Lotte, which once played baseball where one run was scored with three hits because of slow runners and where the runner on second base failed to home on a single hit and stopped at third base, has now transformed into a much more efficient and structured team.
Lotte’s attack concept of ‘making more balls in play’ is applied in the opposite direction of ‘minimizing the number of balls in play’ when defending. A Lotte official said, “Rather than giving up a well-hit ball or a big one, we work with the strategy of ‘going hard’ as much as possible. Even if the number of runners increases due to walks and walks, there were several scenes where they were connected to the bottom line and escaped the crisis without conceding a run.”
In fact, the Lotte pitching staff has a 67.8% (3rd in minimum standard) ratio of in-play balls to bats, so they seldom give balls to the opponent in the fair area. The runner-up rate inherited by Lotte bullpen pitchers is 28.6%, which is tied for first place with SSG. This means that even if the pitcher in front left a runner behind him, there were many times when the pitcher coming up behind him blocked it without conceding a run.
A Lotte official from the front said, “The part that has been constantly emphasized and made known to the players since the spring camp has been well done until now.” I emphasized the direction to win hard, but the results so far have exceeded expectations,” he expressed satisfaction.
Even if key players are sluggish, other players make up for it
Until last year, Lotte had a high reliance on a few specific star players. Let’s look back at April of last year, when we ended April in second place after SSG. Main hitters such as Monthly MVP Han Dong-hee, Lee Dae-ho, Ahn Chi-hong, and Jeon Jun-woo led the attack. On the mound, foreign ace Charlie Barnes was in charge of six games alone, and even native ace Park Se-woong pitched well, boasting a strong starting lineup. However, as the pace of these leading stars fell and injuries began to appear, the ‘thin and flat’ player base slowly revealed its limits.
On the other hand, even with the same gust of wind in April, the process taken this year is different. While Han Dong-hee, who was the MVP in April of last year, was suffering from the worst slump, and Noh Jin-hyuk and Yoo Gang-nam, who newly joined Lotte as ‘FA big fish’, did not perform impressively in attack, Lotte ran a winning streak. Even in the worst slump, in which the 1st to 3rd starters, Dan Straley, Charlie Barnes, and Park Se-woong, combined for a month, only 1 win, Lotte took the lead alone. This is the result of effectively making up for the sluggishness of key players while the ‘rest’ players, who are far from stars, played their part evenly and played their roles.카지노사이트
Baseball is an average sport. No matter how sluggish the star players are in the beginning, as the season goes on, they will gradually come closer to their original career record and find themselves. Strayley, who struggled with an average speed of 142 km/h until April, threw a fast ball with an average speed of 145 km/h in his first appearance in May (against Doosan on the 9th). Barnes, who had the worst start with 1 win, 1 loss, ERA of 7.58, and 16 earned run average in four starts in April, scored only one run in 6 2/3 innings against Doosan the next day, the 10th. He pitched well, recording 2 hits and 8 strikeouts without conceding, and became the winning pitcher.
An official from Lotte confidently said, “After Strayley and Barnes suffered a slump in the beginning, they had time to correct mechanical problems. As they have succeeded in improving a large part of the problems, they will soon return to their original form.” Lotte can become a stronger team than in April after May, when the foreign duo and Park Se-woong made strenuous efforts, and Han Dong-hee and the starting beasts recovered their sense of hitting. This is why Lotte Baseball’s spring, which ended too short every year, is expected to continue throughout the season this year.