When Lee Seung-yeop (47) took over as manager of the Doosan Bears at the end of the 2022 season, the player who drew the most attention was undoubtedly Kim Jae-hwan (35). After winning the home run title in 2018 with 44 arches, all eyes were on Kim to see what kind of synergy the former South Korean cannon home run hitter could bring to the table after averaging 23.8 home runs in four years (2019-2022).
As it turned out, he didn’t quite live up to expectations in the first half of this season. In 76 games, he batted .244 (60-for-246) with seven home runs and 29 RBIs. While his on-base percentage was respectable at .355, he was frustrated by his lack of home runs. Despite getting the most plate appearances (153) as the No. 4 hitter, he only hit .231. Because of this, he had to move to the second, third, fifth, and sixth spots in the batting order. Considering that up until last year, a whopping 92.6% (3777) of Kim’s 4077 total at-bats were in the No. 4 spot, it’s easy to see how his ego could be bruised.
However, Lee still believes in Kim Jae-hwan. “The Doosan batting lineup without Kim Jae-hwan doesn’t mean much,” he told reporters after the game against the SSG Landers in Incheon was postponed due to rain on Nov. 11. “Recently, the batting lineup has gotten a little more cohesive. The existing players such as Jeong Soo-bin, Yang Yang-ji, Yang Suk-hwan, and even Jose Rojas have been getting better recently. I think the last one will be Kim Jae-hwan,” he said.메이저놀이터
In July, Doosan was on fire. They have won all eight games and have a team batting average of 0.302. In the same period, Kim Jae-hwan has been disappointing, batting .172 (5-for-29) with one home run and three RBIs, but Lee sincerely hopes he can recover. “I think it would be great if Kim Jae-hwan can come back,” he said, adding, “If Kim Jae-hwan shows good form, we can make another change in the batting lineup.”