Three KBO teams take a turn for the worse
The core of a team and its style of play don’t usually change quickly. But for the Samsung Lions, Kia Tigers and Lotte Giants, a lot has changed - not for the better - in just one season.
Though it boasted one of the strongest defensive teams in the league last year, Daegu-based Samsung can no longer count on reliable fielding. Where in 2009 the Lions made fewer errors than any other team, with 80, and in 2008 they committed the second-least, with 69, this year they’re averaging .93 errors per game - 53 in 57 games so far.
On Tuesday, Samsung committed three errors against the SK Wyverns. Shortstop Park Jin-man, who is known as one of the best fielders in the league, made an error in fielding a grounder from Park Kyung-wan at the top of the second, which eventually led to the opening run. Park Sun-min also made a crucial error in the fifth when he mishandled a bunt and allowed a runner to advance from second to third.
Park Jin-man currently leads the team with 11 errors, but four other infielders have a combined total of 22.
The Tigers have also taken on a drastically different look this year. In their Korean Series-winning season of 2009, Kia boasted Kim Sang-hyun and Choi Hee-seop, the top two home-run hitters in the league. As a team, the Tigers hit 156 home runs to finish the season third in that category, behind SK and Hanwha. However, the Tigers have hit just 38 home runs through 57 games this season, and sit last overall in the league. Choi has hit 11 home runs, but Kim has missed significant time due to a knee injury and Na Ji-wan, who hit 20 home runs last season, spent some time in the minors.
For the Lotte Giants, the headaches come from bullpen woes. Lotte boasted the best bullpen last year, with league-best 40 saves. John Adkins finished the 2009 season tied for most saves, at 26. With the departure of Adkins, the club’s bullpen has posted a combined ERA of 6.32 - the league’s worst - and eight saves.
By Han Yong-seob [email@example.com]