‘Have we skipped a generation?
The competition for the home run title in the first half of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League unfolded in a much different way than last year. While Park Byung-ho (37-KT Wiz) booked the home run title early in the 2022 season with 27 arches in the first half alone, this season, with no 20-homer hitters, two players finished the first half tied for first place with 19 home runs. They are SSG Landers “veteran hitter” Choi Jung (36) and Hanwha Eagles “emerging big gun” Noh Si Hwan (23). Choi hit .311 with 19 home runs in 73 games, while Noh hit .317 with 19 home runs in 78 games.
A regular in the home run race, Choi’s position at the top of the home run race is a familiar picture for baseball fans. Choi has won the home run title three times, with 40 in 2016, 46 in 2017, and 35 in 2021. Along with Park Byung-ho, he has been a dominant force in the home run race since the 2010s.
With so much experience under his belt, he is expected to continue his steady performance in the second half of the season, but the biggest variable in his quest for a fourth home run title is his physical condition. Choi was subbed out of a home game against the KIA Tigers on May 5 after feeling pain in his left thigh. He was removed from the first team roster on the 10th, and his timetable for a return in the second half is still unclear.
The emergence of Noh Si-hwan, who has been on par with Choi in the first half, is making baseball fans’ hearts flutter. This is because of the possibility of a ‘big gun generation change’. A new generation of cannonballs from the 2000s has emerged in the home run championship race, which had been compressed into ‘Park Byung-ho vs Choi Jeong’.
Coincidentally, the KBO has never had a home run king born in the 1990s. Choi Jeong, Park Byung-ho, and Kim Jae-hwan (35-Dusan Bears) were all born in the 1980s. Mel Rojas Jr. (formerly of KT), born in 1990, won the home run title in 2020 (47), but there hadn’t been a single home run champion among Korean hitters born in the 1990s until last year.메이저사이트
This year, it will be a two-horse race between Choi Jung, born in 1987, and Noh Si-hwan, born in 2000. This is a bitter reminder of the disappearance of big hitters born in the 1990s. Among the top five home run leaders in the first half of this season, only two were born in the 1990s, including LG Twins’ Park Dong-won (33) with 15 home runs (3rd) and Doosan’s Yang Suk-hwan (32) with 13 home runs (5th). Kang Baek-ho (24-KT) and Han Dong-hee (24-Lotte Giants), who were considered the next big thing, had only five and four home runs, respectively, in the first half. While the hitters born in the 1990s have not been able to take over the baton from their seniors born in the 1980s, Noh Si-hwan, a 2000-born giant slugger, is set to have a breakout season in 2023.