Batters up for a look at league standingsBaseball is a team sport, but when it comes time to bat, just one leadoff hitter can make or break a game.
Good, bad, or up and down, a look into the season statistics of leadoff batters in the Korea Baseball Organization reveals a lot about the teams - and the direction they’re headed.
Leading the league - and their lineups - are the SK Wyverns’ Jeong Keun-woo, the Doosan Bears’ Lee Jong-wook and the Samsung Lions’ Lee Young-wook. For No. 1 SK, Jeon has provided consistency in the leadoff spot. Even when the team’s offense struggled in the start of the season, Jeong continued to produce hits and played a pivotal role in helping his team chalk up 11 consecutive wins.
For Doosan, Lee Jong-wook is currently on a four-game multihit streak, leading a surge as the team tries to catch up to SK. The only blemish in his impressive season so far is the drop in his number of steals after he suffered a facial injury playing defense.
“I don’t feel any pressure to produce,” said Lee. “I missed some games due to the injury, but I know I can steal bases.”
At Samsung, Lee Young-wook has been nothing short of impressive this season. He is averaging an on-base percentage of .395 and 11 steals.
On the other end of the stick, the Lotte Giants have been struggling right along with their leadoff hitter. Kim Joo-chan has reached base just three times in the past five games, and in the same stretch Lotte has posted one win and four losses.
In the middle of the road are LG and Nexen. Lee Dae-hyung is averaging .297 at the plate, has a .377 on-base percentage and a league-best 20 steals. The LG Twins are currently seventh in the eight-team league, but Lee’s steady performance can help the team.
The Nexen Heroes’ Jang Ki-young has filled in adequately for the injured Hwang Jae-gyoon.
Other teams have been up and down, depending on the performance of their leadoff hitters. The Kia Tigers’ Lee Yong-kyu overcame an early season slump with a .444 batting average this month. In the same period, Kia recorded the league’s best record of nine wins and five losses to climb to fourth place overall.
Hanwha has benefitted from Kang Dong-woo’s return to the lineup. After spending some time in the minors, Kang has been averaging .333 at the plate since he came back to the KBO on May 1.
By Kim Hyo-kyung [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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