The Hanwha Eagles are facing an unexpected conundrum.
Hanwha claimed foreign-born outfielder Brian O’Grady off waivers on May 31 and acquired Nick Williams on May 18. O’Grady packed up after opening the season with a .125 on-base percentage, .163 slugging percentage, and .174 OPS in 80 at-bats with 10 doubles, eight RBIs, three runs scored, 40 strikeouts, and five walks in 22 games.
Hanwha had been scrambling to find a new foreign hitter since O’Grady was removed from the 40-man roster for the second time on May 20, but plans kept falling apart as the players they had been watching made the 40-man roster in June. Hanwha traveled to the Mexican League on the recommendation of new foreign pitcher Ricardo Sanchez, and when Williams, who had been on their short list since last year, started hitting well, they reached out to him.
Williams batted .370 with 29 home runs and 72 RBIs last year, ranking at the top of various batting rankings, and this season he batted .304 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs. “The Mexican League is a tough league, but there are a lot of changeup pitchers, so I think he’ll be able to adapt to Korean pitchers’ changeups,” Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said.
Williams’ first KBO hit in Game 2, a two-run double against KT on March 28, and a home run in Game 3 that O’Grady couldn’t hit, seemed to ease the pressure on Hanwha fans. Williams was also part of Hanwha’s eight-game winning streak, and was seen as a synergistic addition to a team on the rise.
However, Williams is increasingly underperforming expectations. He continues to hit, but through eight games, Williams is just 7-for-35 with one home run, three doubles, three RBIs, 11 strikeouts, a .200 on-base percentage and a .371 slugging percentage. Against SSG on Aug. 8, he went 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts.메이저놀이터
A self-described “aggressive hitter,” Williams has been so aggressive that he hasn’t drawn a walk in 36 at-bats in eight games. On his first day, he hit four pitches, all pitches in the zone. You have to keep an eye on the ball and adjust to the league, and Williams’ 4.03 pitches per at-bat is right in the middle of the league. His 35 strikeouts in 11 at-bats raises concerns about his adjustment period.
Fortunately, Hanwha has been looking for ways to help him get better. Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho recently said, “I told him that he needs to pull forward because he seems to be leaving his hitting point behind, conscious of swinging for the fences or striking out. Even if he strikes out, he needs to hit the long ball.”
Hanwha is in ninth place with eight days to go, but is still four games behind fourth-place NC, four games behind Lotte, and two games behind sixth-place Kiwoom. Hanwha has already used up its two foreign pitcher substitution cards because of Butch Smith, who was injured in the opener, so it needs to keep Williams alive somehow. The pressure is on Choi and the hitting coaches. Williams’ effort is also desperately needed.