There are no foreign hitters in the KBO’s home run race for the 2023 season.
From Hanwha’s Noh Si-hwan, who is tied for first place with 19 home runs through the first half, and SSG’s Choi Jung, to Yang Suk-hwan (Doosan-13) in fifth place, the top five home run leaders are all domestic players. Even if we extend the list to #10, there are only two Koreans, LG’s Austin Dean and KIA’s Socrates Brito. Austin and Socrates are tied for sixth in home runs with 11, along with Chae Eun-sung (Hanwha), Choi Hyung-woo (KIA), and Kang Min-ho (Samsung).
It’s not just this season. Last year, the top home run hitter was KT’s Park Byung-ho, who hit 35. Only Samsung’s Jose Pirela (28 homers) and Kiwoom’s Yasiel Puig (21 homers) were foreigners in the top 10. In the 2021 season, Choi led the league in home runs with 35, while NC’s Aaron Altair (32) and Pirela (29) rounded out the top 10 with the most home runs by a foreign hitter.
As the number of home runs in the league has plummeted due to the impact of pitchers, the trend of foreign hitters has changed. Instead of the big bats of the past, mid- to long-range hitters with precision hitting are now favored.
SSG Guillermo Heredia, one of the best foreign hitters this season, is 11th in the league with 10 home runs, but leads the league with a .339 batting average.
Even Austin, LG’s seemingly “patriarchal” foreign hitter, is a far cry from the big bat of Roberto Ramos, who played for LG in the past. In his 10 seasons in the minors, he hit .283, but only 84 home runs in total.
Former Hanwha player Brian O’Grady, who was the first foreign hitter to be ejected this season, hit 91 home runs in seven seasons in the minors. In a single season in 2019, he hit 28 homers in Triple-A. In the KBO, however, he hit just .125 in 22 games before being released.안전놀이터
The percentage of home runs in the league by foreign hitters has also dropped significantly. Through the first half of this season, there have been 494 home runs in the league, 74 of which have been hit by foreign batters, or 14.98%. In 2019, foreign batters hit 197 of the league’s 1014 home runs, accounting for 19.43%. In 2020, it was 17.9% with 244 home runs out of 1363 home runs. In the three seasons since then, the percentage of home runs hit by foreign players has hovered around 14%.
It will be interesting to see how the new foreign hitters perform in the second half of the season as the league changes. Lotte brought in Niko Goodrum to replace Jack Rex and Kiwoom brought in Ronnie Dawson to replace Edison Russell. Hanwha, which was the first team to replace its foreign bats this season, is worried that new signing Nick Williams has not yet performed as expected. Williams, who made his KBO debut on March 27, is batting .163 with an OPS of .484 in 10 games.