LG Twins overcome Jamsil constraints to lead KBO in home runs
The LG Twins are looking to mark the KBO’s 40th anniversary with a little history of their own — the club’s first ever team home run title.
As of press time Thursday, the third-place Twins currently lead the KBO with 80 home runs in 89 games so far this season, outpacing the KT Wiz and SSG Landers, who share second on the table with 74 home runs each.
If the Twins are able to hold on that top spot for the remainder of the season, it will mark the first time that the Seoul club has ever led the league in home runs.
Of those 80 LG home runs so far this season, just one has come from a foreign player — Rio Ruiz against the Hanwha Eagles on April 15 — even though foreign bats are traditionally expected to lead a team’s slugging in the KBO.
The remaining 79 home runs all came from Korean players, although Twins manager Ryu Ji-hyun will be hoping that the recent arrival of Robel Garcia to replace Ruiz will help pad those numbers.
Of those 80 big flies, 34 came at home in Jamsil Baseball Stadium in southern Seoul and 46 while on the road. That home-road split might look surprising, but that LG got anywhere near the top of the KBO ranking while playing the majority of their games at Jamsil is impressive.
With 100 meters (109 yards) from the plate to the wall along the foul lines and 125 meters in the center, Jamsil has the biggest playing field in Korea and is therefore the least slugger-friendly. For both the Twins and the Doosan Bears, who share the stadium, this means that it would take an exceptional season to be in with a chance of topping any slugging statistics.
The Doosan Bears have managed it twice, in 1995 and 2016, with slugger Kim Jae-hwan also taking the home run crown in 2018. But for a team that has been an offensive powerhouse for the best part of the last two decades, twice in 40 years is not very impressive.
The Twins have been steadily climbing up the home run rankings. After ranking in the bottom two in 2016, 2016 and 2017, the Twins rose to eighth in 2018, sixth in 2019, third in 2020 and fourth last year.
In recent years, the Twins shifted their focus from on-base percentage to hammering in the runs. The club recruited batting coach Lee Ho-joon and encouraged players to swing for the fences without worrying so much about strikeouts and working the bases.
The shift seems to have worked. As of press time, the Twins have 54 wins and 34 losses on the season to sit in third place, 1.5 games behind second and a comfortable 6.5 games ahead of fourth.
BY JIM BULLEY AND KIM HYO-KYUNG [email@example.com]