Kim Do-young, a ‘genius’ waiting for Ryu Hyun-jin

Ryu Hyun-jin (37, Hanwha Eagles), who returned as a “monster,” will meet genius batter Kim Do-young (22, KIA Tigers).메이저놀이터

Ryu Hyun-jin will start the 2024 KBO League KIA Tigers away game at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on the 23rd.

Initially, Ryu faced off as a starting pitcher for Yang Hyeon-jong (36). He was able to meet with Ryu for the first time since 2007, when he was the rookie of the year, as he ranked second with 174 wins and 116 losses overall. However, Yang felt numbness in his elbow while pitching on Saturday. It was due to accumulation of fatigue, but Kia removed him from the entry into the main league on Tuesday to prevent injury.

Ryu Hyun-jin, who Kia has to deal with without Yang, has five wins and four losses with an earned run average of 3.38 (as of Tuesday). His earned run average (ERA), which once fell to the bottom of the standings, has risen to fourth place in the league. He has an overwhelming 0.73 ERA in the recent six games. He gave up not a single earned run in June.

Concerns have long been raised that his ball power is not as good as his heyday. He has only 0.113 homers per nine innings (one in 80 innings) this season. This is the ninth in the history of the KBO league. If the scope is narrowed down since 1991, only Angel Sanchez (then SK Wyverns) allowed 0.109 homers per nine innings (two homers in 165 innings) in 2019 compared to Ryu Hyun-jin.

His pitching ability is also remarkable. Ryu, who took the mound against the Kiwoom Heroes in Cheongju on the 18th, secured a win with eight strikeouts and no outs by blocking only 101 pitches in eight innings. It was his first eight-inning pitch in five years since he was with the LA Dodgers in 2019. He was able to throw a shutout, but he said he considered taking the mound on Sunday and would prepare for a showdown with KIA. In the last six games, Ryu Hyun-jin failed to complete six innings (five scoreless innings against the Samsung Lions on May 19) only once. Even that was because he was replaced in advance by winning by a wide margin.

The Kia Tigers’ lineup that Ryu will meet is not easy. Kia leads the league with a win rate of 0.597 (43 wins, 1 draw, and 29 losses). Notably, its batting power is so strong that it has posted a batting average of 0.291 (1st), 80 homers (2nd), and 418 points (second place). It also ranks first in OPS (0.808), which combines the on-base percentage (0.366th, second place) and the slugging percentage (0.442nd place). The batting average for scoring goals is also outstanding at 0.312 (1st place).

Ryu and Kia will have a showdown for the first time in this season. However, they encountered each other at exhibition games. Ryu took the mound at his first exhibition game against Kia on March 12, and pitched four innings of three hits, three strikeouts and one run without any outs.

The batter who will determine the result with Ryu in his 18th year as a professional player is Kim Do-young in his 3rd year. Kim, who has been called the “second Lee Jong-beom” since Gwangju Dongsung High School, ranks among the top hitters in major batting categories this year with a batting average of 0.333 (8th), 95 hits (4th), 18 homers (tied for 4th), 22 steals (7th), 52 RBIs and 65 runs (first), 0.590 (5th) in slugging percentage and 0.983 (fourth) in OPS.

Kim Do-young also hit his first grand slam as a grand slam in a come-from-behind home run against the LG Twins in Gwangju on the 20th. When the team loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning when it was losing 0-2, he turned the game around with a home run over the right fence by hitting LG Detrick Ence’s first fastball. KIA later allowed LG to turn the tables again, but won with a dramatic back-to-back home run at the last minute to take the top spot.

It also ranked third in terms of contribution to the win compared to substitute players at 3.10 (based on Sports II). It is closely following Mel Rojas Jr. (3.41), the KT Wiz, who ranks first. In the history of the KBO League, only Park Jae-hong, Lee Byung-kyu, and Eric Thames made 20 home runs and 20 steals in the first half of the season.

For Ryu, who excels at home run containment, Kim may be more difficult than big guns such as Na Sung-bum and Choi Hyung-woo. With power, contact and speed, Kim can survive not only as a long hit but also as an infield hit. He is also a mastermind who can steal bases at any time. Another point to watch is the outcome of Ryu’s performance against Ryu, who showed top-notch skills during his MLB career

Kim is also a man of guts who does not weigh heavily on his name value as a big leaguer. Kim is a natural enemy of Kim Kwang-hyun (SSG Landers), another experienced player in the big league, with a batting average of 0.429 (five hits in 14 times at bat) with an on-base percentage of 0.500 slugging percentage of 0.786 . When he was a rookie, he hit his first hit since his debut from Kim Kwang-hyun.

The two Korean players met for the first time in the regular season had a showdown at an exhibition game. At the time, Kim had one hit in two times at bat against Ryu. He had a mid-base hit in his first at bat, and he had a straight hit in his second at bat. Of course, Ryu was not the Ryu then, and Kim is not the same.

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