In the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to be held in March, the Korean national team will feature the best outfielders in the KBO League.
I can’t see the three-man combination of Choi Ji-man (Pittsburgh Pirates), Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals), and Kim Ha-seong (San Diego Padres).
The Pittsburgh club objected to Choi Ji-man’s participation in the WBC tournament. On the morning of the 6th, KBO said, “On the 5th in Korean time, the WBC Organizing Committee WBCI (World baSeball Classic Inc) informed the KBO that Choi Ji-man could not compete in the WBC.”
The reason why the Pittsburgh team opposed Choi Ji-man’s participation in the WBC tournament was because of his surgical history. Choi Ji-man underwent surgery to remove bone fragments in his right elbow in Korea last November.
Choi Ji-man said, “Not only me, but all athletes, regardless of sport, would have dreamed of running as a player representing the country with a Taegeuk mark on their chest. He doesn’t know how happy he was this time when he was included in the WBC national reserve roster. I wonder if my expectations were high, and the disappointment and frustration caused by the decision to not be accepted is also very great.”
On the 8th of last month, before leaving for the United States, “I really want to go (to the WBC). But the team hasn’t decided yet. I am still appealing to the team,” he said. He showed a strong will to compete in the WBC. He also 안전놀이터said, “I was hungry because I had never worn the Taegeuk mark.”
However, Choi Ji-man, who wore the Taegeuk mark, could not be seen in this competition. At the time of the announcement of the national team entry, many expectations were raised, saying that the big league trio gathered in the infield combination of Choi Ji-man, Kim Ha-seong, and Edman, but in the end, this combination will not be seen this year.
Instead, the outfield was packed with the best outfielders in the 2022 KBO League. Choi Ji-hoon of the SSG Landers, who missed the Golden Glove despite ranking 4th overall with a WAR (contribution to win against substitutes) of 5.48 last year, was selected as Choi Ji-hoon’s substitute.
Choi Ji-hoon participated in all 144 games last year and recorded a batting average of 3.4, 10 homers, 61 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. In his third year as a pro, he definitely showed off his hitting talent. Defense was recognized before hitting.
SSG coach Kim Won-hyeong continued to give Choi Ji-hoon a chance because he acknowledged his defensive ability even when he showed a batting slump, and Choi Ji-hoon eventually became a key SSG player. He is a player with quick feet, strong arms and grit.
Last year’s top three WAR hitters were all outfielders. Regular season MVP Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) scored 8.53, foreign player Jose Pirella (Samsung Lions) scored 6.89, and Na Seong-beom (KIA Tigers) scored 6.74.
Last year’s outfield Golden Glove winners were Lee Jung-hoo, Pirella, and Na Seong-beom. In addition to them, Kim Hyeon-soo (LG Twins) is a representative hitter in the KBO League with rich international experience, and Park Hae-min (LG Twins) is a center fielder with the best defense in the league.
Fans who couldn’t see Choi Ji-hoon, and Choi Ji-man who couldn’t wear the Taegeuk mark again, were in a disappointing situation. The outfield has become more tightly guarded.