“I’ve watched it hundreds of times”.
Choi Won-jun of the Kia Tigers played 143 games and 668 at-bats as the leadoff man, hitting a career-high 174 hits, including 2-for-9, 5 runs, and 40 stolen bases. He joined the Merchant Marine and served for 18 months before returning. He played right away on June 13, but struggled to hit. He was only 2-for-3 in the first half of July.
However, the second half of the season was completely different. His hits and walks increased, and his leadoff performance improved. In 11 games in the second half, he batted .333 with one home run, eight RBIs, three doubles, and 12 runs scored. His OPS in the second half is 1.012. He is returning to his 2021 season form.
In the top of the sixth inning of the Pohang game against Samsung, trailing 3-4, Choi laid down an exquisite bunt from second to third base. The umpire was aware of Choi’s quick feet and made a throwing error. It was a sacrifice bunt that set the stage for a six-run big inning. It was a baseball that thought according to the game situation, and it caught the opponent off guard.
“I didn’t sign for the bunt, but I did. Even if it was 4-3 and I was out, I thought that if Chan Ho-hyung went to third base, we had Do-young and Sung Beom-hyung, we could still score one run. The opposing pitcher (Won Tae-in) was so good that I thought it would be good to score a run. Luckily, it worked out,” he explained.
He had a breakout performance in the three games in Pohang. He had five hits and four RBIs in the three games. In the eighth inning of the first game, trailing 6-7, he hit a single to right field with runners on first and second and third. Against Gwangju Hanwha on April 4, he had three hits in the leadoff at-bat. He recorded his first hit with a single to right in the second inning and followed with a triple to right-center in the fourth inning with no outs. He added another RBI in the fifth inning with the bases loaded with a single to right field.
Choi Won-jun, who was named the Man of the Match, said, “I was not feeling well since Tuesday. I didn’t know how I played the three-game series against Pohang. I wanted to rest when I was sick, but Hyung-woo told me that I had to go out unless I broke something, so I made him use the order (starting lineup) even though I didn’t think I should. I tried to hold the bat short and it worked well,” he explained.
He struggled to find his batting touch after his comeback. “I was lost after coming back. I was stressed and chased. The hitting coaches (Hong Se-wan Lee and Lee Beom-ho) and the power analysis team helped me find the best feeling I had in 2021. I played it hundreds of times and got better. It’s not exactly the same, but I remembered my batting stance and how I did it mentally,” he explained.
His approach to baseball has changed since his discharge. “I studied a lot when I joined the military. I wasn’t a hard worker before the military. My roommates in college were my brothers, and they all worked so hard. I thought that if I had worked hard from that age, I would have gotten better, and my thoughts on baseball changed a lot,” he laughed.메이저놀이터
He is looking to bulk up, especially with senior Na Sung-bum. Not right away. It starts in spring training next year. “I’m still lifting weights nonstop. Sung Bum-hyung is just a monster. He works so hard. I asked him to join me in weight training from next year’s camp. When I enlisted, I didn’t do any weights, just stretches,” said Choi.
As Choi finds his leadoff instincts, the Athletics trio of Park Chan-ho at No. 9 and Kim Do-young at No. 2 are also getting stronger. “My batting is different every day, so I don’t know what will happen, but I hope I can help the team as much as possible. It’s more important to hit well once when it counts than to have a high batting average. I hope I can make a lot of plays that help the team,” he said.