The LG Twins started the season with a much more cohesive batting lineup than in previous years. The addition of foreign batsman Austin Dean and free agent signing Park Dong-won to the LG roster has been a huge boost to the batting order.
Another difference from last year was the performance of the leadoff man. Outfielder Hong Chang-ki, who shook off last year’s slump and is aiming for a career-high.
In 2020, Hong became a full-time first-team outfielder and played in all 144 games the following year, winning his first Golden Glove in 2021. That year, he hit .328 with 172 hits in 524 at-bats, four home runs, 52 RBIs, 23 doubles, and an OPS of .864. He also drew a whopping 109 walks.
However, last season, Hong took a step back, hitting .286 with 125 hits in 437 games, one home run, 51 RBI, 13 doubles, and a .745 OPS in 118 games. He also struck out just 59 times. The team had been in the top half of the standings all season, but he wasn’t happy.
But Hong didn’t let that stop him. He rebounded and is now batting .330 with 116 hits in 351 at-bats, 46 RBIs, 15 doubles, and an OPS of .872 in 93 games this season. He’s drawn the most walks (61) and doubles (28) in the league, and his .450 on-base percentage is the highest among regulars. Hong’s name is also at the top of the list in other categories, including runs scored (second), batting average, and most hits (over three).
The leadoff presence shone through last weekend as well. In a three-game series against the Samsung Lions from April 4-6 at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, South Korea, Hong went 6-for-12 with one home run and one RBI, including a three-hit blast in the final game of the series to help the team win 7-4.
Speaking ahead of the game, Hong said, “I think I feel a little better this year when I’m hitting than I do in terms of the number of hits. I didn’t change my style, and I think it got better as I practiced, because I looked a little bad last year, so I looked back at when I was good and saw why I was good then.” “I think I have more confidence, and I think I’m seeing results at the plate, so I think I’m trying to hit aggressively,” he said, analyzing the driving force behind his rise.
While the number of doubles has been attracting attention this year, Hong has been praised for his improved batting performance. “I think the number of doubles has increased because the direction of the batted ball is more likely to result in a double, not because I want to hit it,” he said. “I’m also said to have increased my batting speed from last year, so I think that helped a bit.”
Two years ago, Hong was one of the best leadoff hitters in the league, so fans and teammates alike have been waiting for him to rebound. Above all, it was the player himself who was most upset by last year’s slump.
“Last year, I had some injuries and my body was out of balance, and I think I got impatient because I couldn’t get results. Honestly, I don’t think a 0.390 batting average is a low number, and my batting average was over 0.280, but it seems that people evaluate such a number as a flash in the pan, so I need to prepare better and think about doing it again.” “I always think that if I bat first, I should get a lot of runs, but there were many games where the team didn’t win more because I was too bad, so I think I should get a lot of runs to help,” she reflected.
Hong said he doesn’t usually look at his stats. He said, “I try not to look at my stats. If I do, I get a little more nervous and conscious of my stats, so I try to avoid it as much as possible. I don’t pay attention to it except when it’s on a billboard or in a situation where I can’t help but see it.”
If Hong has one goal, it’s to score as many runs as possible. “Not only the center fielders, but (Moon) Seong-ju is good, and there are a lot of good hitters in the back of the order, so I feel like I can bring them in as long as I get on base,” Hong said, “I want to score more runs. It’s good to get on base, but I think the more runs I get, the better the team will be,” he said of his goal.안전놀이터
LG has exactly 50 games left to play. For now, the team’s biggest goal is to punch their ticket to the Korean Series. “Our defense is so good and our pitchers are so good, so even when we’re losing big, we chip away at it and don’t give up as many runs as possible, and when we turn those games around, I feel like we’re really strong,” Hong said. “We’re not talking about fall baseball yet. We have a lot of games left, so we’re going to focus more on the present because we’re in first place,” he said, showing his commitment to defending his lead.