“Bae is a black hole in the batting order,” “He’s practically a negative player.”
These were the words used to describe Bae Ji-hwan (24, Pittsburgh Pirates) after his hot start to the season. His biggest weapon, his quick feet, were taken away from him, and he reflected, “My biggest challenge is to know when to use my feet and when not to use my feet.”
Ironically, Bae’s batting stats for the month of May call into question whether the criticism is warranted.
Bae started at second base in the eighth spot in the lineup against the Seattle Mariners on 27 May at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, Washington, USA, and went 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored, and a walk.
A batting black hole? Bae Ji-hwan’s bat is hot in May
His ninth multi-hit game of the season raised his batting average from 0.264 to 0.271. In May alone, his batting average was a whopping 0.302 (16 for 53).토토사이트
The public’s reaction to Bae’s performance last month was overwhelming. With his quick feet, he stole 11 bases and only failed to throw one out, while defensively he impressed with a super catch. At the plate, he hit a game-winning home run, and some people were starting to see him as the future of Pittsburgh.
In mid-March, local outlet Pittsburgh Baseball Now called Bae “a black hole in the middle third of the order” and criticised him for “making up for his lack of power with his base running, but his (stolen base) rate has dropped since May”.
The next day, Bae immediately followed up with a three-hit, four-strikeout game to lead his team to victory. The next day, Bae continued to produce hits, including a 150-kilometre sinker to left field and a 161-kilometre bullet to second base in the top of the seventh inning. A high bat speed indicates power and accuracy, which means that if these indicators continue, there is a greater chance of a hit. Bae’s blast gave Pittsburgh an 11-6 victory and moved them to within half a game of the NL Central-leading Milwaukee Brewers.
Troubled baserunning and defence, but the future is still bright
But it’s May, a month of stolen bases and poor defence. Unlike April, May saw four thrown out while adding three more. He also made a few unnecessary baserunning plays.
It’s nice to see a rebound in his batting. Again, he used his quick feet to steal second base on what could have been a single. When Bae has a hit that isn’t a walk, he’s more likely to advance a base than most players. That’s because he has quick feet, ranking in the top three per cent in the majors this season, according to Statcast.
“If it’s wrong, you teach it and it doesn’t happen again,” said manager Derek Selton, adding that “it’s our job to teach him what’s a good opportunity and what’s not.”
There is also the matter of defence. On the 22nd, the Pittsburgh Prospect of the United States pointed out the team’s thin defensive wall, saying, “You have to go all the way down to the 88th position to find Bae Bae-hwan (in the defensive metrics rankings),” and “If you look at his overall performance, Bae Bae-hwan is actually a negative player in three positions.”
However, it’s important to consider that Bae is a utility player. Bae has played a total of 325⅔ innings in defence this season. He’s played the most innings at second base (173), but he’s also played 128 in the middle infield. 24 innings at shortstop. If Bae had perfect defensive skills, he would likely settle on one position. On the other hand, there are no clear-cut players in that position, which is why Bae has played multiple positions depending on the team’s needs.
It’s unreasonable to expect a utility player to be so complete. However, players like Bae are in the spotlight because they give coaches more options. That’s why Bae has been able to start 46 of the team’s 50 games.
This is Bae’s first time playing full-time in the big leagues. Naturally, there will be many failures. There’s no denying Bae’s talent in the field or at the plate. However, some have pointed out his lack of judgement and experience. This is something that can be improved with practice and experience. That”s why it”s important to look at the upward trend in his batting rather than his defensive and infield failures.