The 2023 KBO League, which is in its 42nd season, will go on a long journey of 720 games, 144 games per team, on April 1.
There are widespread concerns that Korean baseball is in crisis after being eliminated in the first round of the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) three times in a row, but professional baseball this season is also rich in various box office factors.
At the end of this season, interest in Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom), the best hitter in the KBO League, who will advance to the major leagues with a post, is expected to continue throughout the season, and the appearance of 17 foreign players and high-level newbies out of 30 has caught the attention of fans. Suffice. 스포츠토토
Unlike the past two years, when they suffered from lack of training and injured players due to spending the winter in Korea due to the influence of Corona 19, this year, all 10 clubs set up spring camps in warm overseas countries, and are proud to have obtained the best results through sufficient training. The results are noteworthy.
This year, as in previous years, ahead of the opening of the regular league, various predictions are rampant, such as 2 out of 4 out of 4, 3 out of 3 out of 4, and 1 out of 5 out of 4.
In general, SSG, which won the combined championship last year, Kiwoom, which has played fall baseball 9 times in the past 10 years, LG, which is thirsty for championships, and kt, which advanced to the postseason in 4 years, are commonly cited as the teams closest to fall baseball.
Here, it is expected by many experts that Doosan, KIA, and Lotte are fighting for the 5th place, and Samsung and NC Hanwha are candidates for the lower ranks.
However, as the overall strength is leveled, there is an opinion that a more fierce competition for rankings towards fall baseball will take place than ever before.
In other words, this season, even the last team will have a winning rate of 40%, and the first and second place won’t rise to the 60% winning rate like last year.
The rationale for this is that Hanwha and Lotte, which were in charge of the lower ranks, reinforced their strength in their own way.
Hanhwa, which has been in last place for three consecutive years, recruited internal free agents Jang Si-hwan and external free agents Chae Eun-seong, Lee Tae-yang, Oh Seon-jin, and Lee Myung-ki through sign-and-trade. In addition, Han Seung-hyeok, a candidate for the 5th selection, was also accepted as a trade. In addition, second-year Dong-ju Moon, who easily throws the mid-150 km range, and Seo-hyun Kim, a newcomer, joined the team.
The batting line also changed unnoticed. The joining of an outside free agent played a role in awakening the fighting spirit of internal hitters who failed to produce a single 30% hitter last year. Although it is an exhibition game, Noh Si-hwan’s home run hits come alive, and Jeong Eun-won, Park Jeong-hyun, Choi Jae-hoon, Kim Tae-yeon, Lee Won-seok, who is in their 5th year, and Moon Hyun-bin, a rookie, also exceed expectations.
In addition, Lotte , which won the championship twice in a total of 41 seasons and has never experienced the Korean Series since advancing to the Korean Series in 1999, has solidified its image as a low – ranking team . After recruiting infielder Noh Jin-hyeok as a free agent , pitchers Cha Woo-chan, Kim Sang-soo, Shin Jeong-rak, Yoon Myeong-jun , catcher Lee Jung-hoon, and outfielder Ahn Kwon-soo, who were released from other teams, were greatly improved.
After advancing to the Korean Series for 7 consecutive years, Doosan, which slipped to 9th place last year, made a comeback with Yang Eui-ji in 4 years with the FA record of 15.2 billion won, and entrusted coach Lee Seung-yeop, the “national batter”, with the baton. New head coach Lee Seung-yeop is considered a weakness because he has no leadership experience yet, but the addition of Yang Eui-ji, who is no different from a ‘championship contract’, is expected to be a great help for Doosan.
Contrary to last year’s strengthening of the bottom-ranked teams, 7th place Samsung did not recruit outside infielders Kim Sang-soo and Oh Seon-jin without infielders. It is pointed out that the power has rather weakened in appearance.
However, Samsung and Doosan showed different moves in the spring camp from the other eight teams this year. Contrary to the other eight teams who completed their spring camps in the first and second rounds, traveling back and forth between the United States and Japan, Samsung completed spring camp with the first and second teams in Japan, and Doosan only in Australia.
Moreover, Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop and Samsung coach Park Jin-man are believers in training who believe that “the sweat that is shed in training shows up as it is.” Because of this, the two teams trained in hell to the point of digesting the largest amount of training ever, which they had not experienced in previous years. How this result will be recorded on the season report card is also a matter of interest.
In this way, with the strength of each team considerably leveled, some point out that the ranking game variable could be a battle with rivals formed in their own way, as well as a confrontation with the command tower’s resourcefulness.
Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop and LG coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop, who both became head coaches without leadership experience, competed against rivals in Jamsil, and SSG coach Kim Won-hyeong and Kiwoom Hong Won-ki, who both won and runner-up in last year’s Korean Series, had mixed joys and sorrows.
In addition, it is of interest to see what NC coach Kang In-kwon, Samsung coach Park Jin-man, and foreign coach Larry Sutton, Lotte coach, and Hanwha coach Carlos Subero, who became official coaches from acting coaches, will do in the final year of the contract.
It is also worth watching the results of this season, which will be drawn by KIA coach Kim Jong-guk, who confidently asserted that winning this season is his goal.
Accordingly, as much as the five teams that can advance to the fall baseball this season, one of the focus is on which team finishes last.
As expected by experts, if Hanwha is in last place again, it will be the second in history to write the disgrace of being in last place for 4 consecutive years after Lotte, which was in last place for 4 consecutive years from 2001 to 2004, when it was an eight-team system, and NC will write the disgrace of being in the bottom for 4 consecutive years after 2018, and Samsung will fall to the bottom for the first time in history.