Nexen’s Park gets 40 home runs for 3rd consecutive season
A total of four players in the KBO - Lee Seung-yuop of the Samsung Lions, Eric Thames formerly of the NC Dinos, Park and Choi Jeong of the SK Wyverns - have managed to hit 40 home runs a season for two straight years, but Park is the league’s first-ever player to do so for three consecutive seasons.
This season, Park and Choi were in contention to be the first to achieve the record, but as Choi had to miss two weeks before the Asian Games, he slowly fell out of the race. Before he went out with an injury, Choi had hit 31 home runs.
The milestone came during a game against the Doosan Bears at Gocheok Sky Dome on Tuesday. Kim Jae-hwan of the Bears was first to hit a home run, a solo homer at the top of the fourth inning while the Bears were losing 1-3. The Bears went on a scoring streak, taking the lead 7-4 by the top of the seventh inning.
Eventually, Park stepped up for the Heroes. At the bottom of the seventh inning, Park hit a three-run home run to tie the lead. The Heroes went on to score another three runs at the bottom of the eighth to win the game 10-7.
With his 40th home run, Park is now one step closer to taking the league’s home run title for the fifth time.
But this might not be Park’s year. Kim hit another home run against the Heroes on Wednesday to extend his lead in the league standing to two. The Heroes won both of the games against the Bears, winning Wednesday’s game 5-4 in extra innings.
As of Wednesday’s game, Park has a batting average of .342 with 40 home runs and 107 RBIs.
Considering Park’s more than a month-long absence in the beginning of the season due to a hamstring injury, his achievement is beyond impressive. Once he returned in May, Park hit five home runs in 10 games and from June to August, he quickly joined the race for the home run title by hitting 24. Thanks to his impressive home run streak, Park was selected as the KBO’s August MVP.
From 2012 to 2015, Park topped the league in home runs. During the 2014 and 2015 seasons, Park exceeded 50 home runs, hitting 52 and 53 per season. Park missed the home run title in the 2016 and 2017 season as he played for the Minnesota Twins in the MLB. His two seasons in the MLB do not affect the KBO record.
In addition to Park’s home run achievement, he also became the first-ever KBO player to reach 100 RBIs in a single season for five consecutive seasons.
BY KANG YOO-RIM [email@example.com]