The Lotte Giants’ foreign-born slugger Nico Gudrum, 31, is at serious risk. The offense is mediocre, and the defense is at an all-time low.
Gudrum started the second game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League doubleheader against the NC Dinos at Changwon NC Park on September 9, batting seventh and playing second base.
On the day, Goodrum did his job at the plate. After drawing a walk in his first at-bat in the second inning, he was silent in the fourth and sixth innings, striking out. He did get into scoring position in the top of the eighth with a double down the right field line.
Defensively, though, it was a series of errors. In the first half, he didn’t look too bad, especially in the bottom of the fifth inning when he caught a tricky hit from Jason Martin and threw him out at second base with runners on first and second. But in the sixth inning, Goodrum became a big part of the team’s defeat.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Lotte leading 4-3, NC leadoff hitter Oh Young-soo doubled off Lotte’s third pitcher, Jin Seung-hyun, and Kim Joo-won followed with a single to right field to put runners on first and third. NC then brought in Park Gun-woo to pinch-hit, and Lotte responded with veteran Shin Jeong-rak.
Shin struck out Park Gun-woo on a wild swing with his main weapons, a big-angle curveball and fastball. He then induced the next batter, Choi Jung-won, to ground out to the second baseman. It was a slower pitch, so it was hard to get a kill on it, but it was enough to get either the runner on first or the runner in scoring position.
However, Goodrum caught the ball and threw home instead of to first or second. It looked like he was trying to match Oh Young-soo instead of the speedy Kim Joo-won or Choi Jung-won, but he couldn’t get the throw to go straight after the catch, so he deflected it sideways. As a result, Oh Young-soo came home to tie the game for Lotte.
A shaky Shin Jeong-rak gave up a walk to Son Ah-seob to load the bases, and then gave up a double to Seo Ho-chul in right field to score two runs. In an instant, the game had turned into a 6-4 NC lead.
Goodrum committed an error in the eighth inning when he failed to catch Park Min-woo’s fly ball. Although the ball went into a rather fast and elusive boundary, if the official score showed it as an error, Goodrum’s mistake was clearly more significant. In the end, Lotte lost the second game of the doubleheader 5-6.
The error was Goodrum’s 11th of the season. That’s tied for 13th in the league. However, while most of the top players in the league have played between 800 and 900 defensive innings, Goodrum has only played 300 innings. That’s a 44-error pace that translates to 144 games, and if he played full-time, he would have surpassed the record for most errors in a season (35) set by Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom) in 2021.
At the beginning of his career, Goodrum didn’t make too many mistakes. However, starting with the 17th game against Gochuk Kiwoom on August 9, Goodrum’s defense began to falter. Against Sasik KT on August 26, he made three errors in one game, and then set a record of four consecutive games without an error. While his pitching wasn’t the cleanest, his delivery was a concern as well.
Then there’s his batting, which has been mediocre at best. Through nine days, Goodrum is batting .263 with 20 RBIs and a .682 OPS. He’s played 36 games and still hasn’t hit a home run and doesn’t have any stolen bases. That’s a disappointing record for a foreign player. He’s making decent contact, but he hasn’t shown any power at all. It’s a vicious circle, as his bad form continues to hurt his confidence.
Goodrum donned the Lotte uniform in mid-July, replacing Jack Rex, who was struggling with a knee injury. With 402 big league games under his belt, he hit 16 home runs and 12 stolen bases in 2018 with Detroit. Playing every defensive position except pitcher and catcher, he was a three-time American League Gold Glove finalist in 2020. Add to that a very high on-base percentage (.448) compared to his batting average (.280) in Triple-A after getting glasses ahead of this season.
So there was reason to be excited. “Goodrum is a very athletic and versatile player who can play all over the infield,” said then-manager Larry Sutton. “We’ve been watching him for almost a year,” he added. However, his current form is disappointing.메이저놀이터
Lotte is currently in the midst of a search for Goodrum. On the 8th, he started in right field against the Changwon NC, and acting manager Lee Jong-woon said, “(Goodrum) is struggling in the infield right now. I thought it would be better for him to be comfortable in the outfield.” With his left hamstring injury, it’s difficult for him to get an instant start in the infield, so he’d rather play in the outfield where he can see the ball.
However, Goodrum’s defense in the outfield was also disappointing. In the bottom of the first inning, Goodrum chased down a big hit by Park Gun-woo, but gave up a double. It was a tricky hit that went over his head, but Goodrum’s follow-through was awkward.
At this rate, Goodrum and Lotte’s partnership is likely to end after half a season. It will be up to Goodrum to make the rest of the season count, but it won’t be easy.