Last year’s best offense in the league, KIA struggled a bit at the start of the year due to injuries to key hitters like Na Sung-beom and Kim Do-young, but that’s changing as key players return from injury and the team has a more stable lineup.
The KIA bats are ranked second in team OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) in the second half of the season and are providing the runs the team needs to win. The bats came alive in the three-game series against Samsung in Pohang from April 1-3. Even when the mound gave up an early run, they showed the focus and firepower to turn the game around. This can lead to the team’s confidence that they can turn the game around at any time.
In Game 1, starter Mario Sanchez overcame an early collapse with an explosive bat to win the game 11-8. It was the power of the bat that turned around a 0-6 deficit in the third inning.
On the third day, the team gave up four runs in the first inning to fall behind 1-4, but while the pitchers were able to hold on without giving up any more runs, the bats came through with a big inning to win 12-8 and secure the sweep. In the second game of the day, the team also came back from a 1-3 deficit in the fifth inning to win the game. This can be a good thing for the hitters’ confidence, as well as giving the pitchers some breathing room.
Overall, the performance was even. Na Sung-beom has made a name for himself in the second half of the season with a .394 batting average and 1.159 OPS, while Park Chan-ho (.980), Socrates (.954), Choi Won-joon (.941), Kim Do-young (.859), and Lee Woo-seong (.855) have also been strong. In addition, players coming off the bench, such as Lee Chang-jin and Ko Jong-wook, have also been hitting at the right time. KIA’s team batting average in the second half of the season is 0.292.
Kia head coach Kim Jong-kook also expressed his satisfaction with the batting lineup. “The batters seem to be concentrating a lot, trying to connect with the batters behind them, and stretching the opponent’s pitch count a little more,” Kim said before the game against Gwangju Hanwha on April 4. “That concentration leads to a lot of big innings, and it seems to happen when we score runs,” he said.
In fact, KIA’s batters have been persistent in the second half of the season, striking out a total of 49 times, including 45 four-pitchers. Big innings are often the result of a good start and a walk. With the bullpen struggling, KIA will have to hold on to its good batting lineup and reorganize the mound.
On the other hand, KIA lined up its batting order against Gwangju Hanwha on the 4th as Choi Won-jun (first baseman), Kim Do-young (third baseman), Na Sung-beom (right fielder), Choi Hyung-woo (designated hitter), Socrates (center fielder), Kim Sun-bin (second baseman), Lee Woo-sung (left fielder), Han Jun-soo (catcher), and Park Chan-ho (shortstop). As the team’s bats have been hitting well lately, they barely touched the lineup, changing only the catcher from Kim Tae-gun to Han Jun.
The starting pitcher is Yoon Young-cheol. Yoon has a 6-4 record with a 3.75 ERA in 15 games this season, holding down a spot in the KIA rotation. In his last start, his first of the second half of the season, on July 29 against Lotte, he threw six innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts and no walks, and has won three straight. He has faced Hanwha once before this season, on May 24, when he tossed six innings of one-run ball and picked up a win.스포츠토토
In contrast, Hanwha’s batting order is Jung Eun-won (second base), Oh Sun-jin (third base), Kim Tae-yeon (first base), Noh Si-hwan (designated hitter), Moon Hyun-bin (center field), Lee Jin-young (right field), Williams (left field), Park Sang-un (catcher), and Lee Do-yoon (shortstop). Williams, who was dropped from the starting lineup on the third day due to his recent batting slump, returned to the lineup.