Slugging giant Lee Dae-ho still trampling the competition

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Slugging giant Lee Dae-ho still trampling the competition

Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants is putting up numbers as big as his imposing physique. The 28-year-old third baseman - listed at 192 centimeters (6 feet 3 inches) and 100 kilograms (220 pounds) - has been the top slugger in the KBO through the first half of the 2010 season.

Through Monday, Lee was leading the league in batting average (.365), home runs (26) and slugging percentage (.642), and was tied for first in hits with 113. Lee is also second in RBI (80), on-base percentage (.441) and runs scored (62), and is on course to make another run at the triple crown, which he won during the 2006 season, when he hit .336 with 26 homers and 88 RBI. He has nearly surpassed his previous career highs in all categories through the first half of the current season.

Despite his impressive size, Lee has great plate coverage, which allows him to hit a variety of pitches. Most batters prefer pitches down the middle, high and outside or low and inside, while struggling with anything else in the strike zone.

Almost a quarter of pitches thrown to Lee have been low and outside, with another 18 percent of pitches high and inside, yet the third baseman has been feasting on these tactics. He has hit .383 and .430 respectively against these two pitches, up from .278 and .299 last season.

Lee has been dominant even when facing traditional pitcher’s counts. While the average batter in the KBO hits only .222 when falling behind in the strike count, Lee boasts an average of .325. He also slugs .405 in situations in which he is behind two strikes and no balls.

Despite Lee’s dominating numbers at the plate, he has not made any noticeable changes to his swing or to his approach. Giants manager Jerry Royster and batting coach Kim Moo-gwan both agreed that Lee has not made any tweaks to his batting, because “there was no need to do so.”

According to the Giants coaching staff, the biggest difference has been Lee’s way of thinking - or more appropriately, not thinking too much - while at the plate. While Lee felt the need to put pressure on himself to produce last year, he has freed himself from those worries this year and been more aggressive than ever.

“I have a good feel for the game at the moment, and I think it has resulted in improved statistics in all areas of my game,” said Lee.


By Choi Min-kyu [jason@joongang.co.kr]

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