‘Kim Tae-gyun’s successor’ Noh Si-hwan, will he lead the Hanwha out of last place?

Ahead of the 2023 KBO League, attention is focused on whether the Hanwha Eagles, who finished in 10th place for three consecutive years until last year, will be in last place. Optimism that Hanwha, which has strengthened its team by recruiting free agents Chae Eun-seong, Lee Tae-yang, and Oh Sun-jin, will be different this year from previous years, is gaining momentum. 

In particular, expectations are high for Chae Eun-seong, who signed a large contract with Hanwha for a total of 9 billion won over 6 years of free agency. Chae Eun-seong took over the 4th hitter for the LG Twins last year, filling the practical void of foreign hitters and leading the team to second place in the regular season. Chae Eun-seong is expected to take on the heavy responsibility of batting 4 at Hanwha.

The Hanwha hitter with the most anticipated synergy effect with Chae Eun-seong is Noh Si-hwan, who is in his 5th year as a pro. Noh Si-hwan, who graduated from Gyeongnam High School and joined Hanwha in the 3rd place in the 2nd round of 2019, was designated as the successor of franchise star Kim Tae-gyun, whose back number 52 was permanently absent. 

Right-handed hitter prospect Noh Si-hwan achieved a double-digit home run for the first time with 12 homers in 2020, when he was in his second year as a pro. With a batting average of 0.220 and an OPS of 0.685, the detailed indicators were disappointing, but it made me hope that they would gradually improve as experience accumulated. 

In 2021, he proved his skill development with a batting average of 0.271, 18 homers, 84 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.852, all career highs. WAR (Based on Kaby Report), which represents the contribution to victory versus substitute players, was also 3.56, the highest since his professional debut. In 2022, a prospect was raised that it would be possible to climb the 20 home run high.

Last year, Noh Si-hwan recorded a batting average of 0.281, 6 homers, 59 RBIs, an OPS of 0.737, and a WAR of 2.00. His batting average reached a career high, but all other indicators were down from the previous year. 

In particular, his failure to achieve a double-digit home run was an unexpected slump. It was true that it was disappointing to say that it was the influence of the KBO League pitcher trend. In 2021, 1 home run per 21.11 at-bats was recorded, but last year suffered from a’home run drought’ with 1 home run per 72.33 at-bats.  안전놀이터

The decrease in the number of home runs in Geopo is often seen when aggressiveness decreases as the player seeks a change in seeing more balls in the at-bat. However, Noh Si-hwan changed more actively at the plate, with the number of pitches per plate reduced from 4.18 in 2021 to 3.92 in 2022. Some analysts say that as a result of Noh Si-hwan being too conscious of home runs, the number of home runs has decreased.

Another regrettable thing is Noh Si-hwan’s ability to digest full-time. He never had a season in which he played more than 120 games in four years until last year. Last year, he was excluded from the first team for 42 days, including being listed on the 30-day injured list due to a thigh injury, and played only 115 games. As a result, it became the season where he participated in the most games in the pro, but it is not enough to be satisfied. If you are a franchise star leading the team lineup, full-time digestion without injury is essential. 

This year is the last year of Subero’s three-year term, and whether or not to renew the contract is at stake. In order to prove that coach Subero has succeeded in rebuilding, voices are being raised that Hanwha should go beyond simply leaving the bottom and threaten the middle ranks. It is noteworthy whether Noh Si-hwan will take the lead in Hanwha’s rebound by hitting his first 20 homers. 

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