“As far as hitting goes, he’s got a really good talent. He can be a hitter who can represent the KBO.” 메이저놀이터

This is what MBC Sports Plus commentator Park Jae-hong said about Kang Baek-ho (KT), who became the first KBO player to hit 30 home runs and 30 doubles in his career.

After graduating from Seoul High School, Kang began his professional career in 2018 as a second-round pick of KT, and in his rookie year, he played in 138 games, batting .259 (153-for-527) with 29 home runs, 84 RBIs, 108 runs scored and three stolen bases.

He took a step forward each year, batting .333 (6-for-147) with 13 homers, 65 RBIs and 72 runs scored in 2019, .333 (165) with 23 homers, 89 RBIs and 95 runs scored in 2020, and .340 (7-for-179) with 16 homers, 102 RBIs and 76 runs scored in 2021.

Last year, injury-riddled, he accepted the most dismal stat line of his professional career. His batting average plummeted to 2-for-44 and he hit just 58 doubles, six home runs, 29 RBIs and 24 runs scored. The poor performance eventually led to a pay cut. He was re-signed for 290 million won, a 47.3 percent cut from his 550 million won salary last year.

He also had to deal with unwelcome fame. In the eighth inning of the bronze medal game against the Dominican Republic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, with South Korea trailing 6-10, Baek-ho Kang was caught on a live broadcast chewing gum in the dugout with the bases loaded and no outs.

He tried to stay out of the chewing gum controversy for a while, but found himself in the center of controversy again on March 9, when he was called out after hitting a double in the first inning of a WBC first-round qualifier against Australia.

In the bottom of the fifth inning of a 3-2 game against LG in Jamsil on March 18, Kang Baek-ho caught Kim Hyun-soo’s single with the bases loaded. However, with runners on first and third, Kang Baek-ho made a slow throw that made a large parabolic arc toward the infield, and Park Hae-min, the third baseman who didn’t miss the gap, came home to tie the game at 3-3. Because of this, many people pointed out that Kang Baek-ho was playing too complacent.

Commentator Park Jae-hong, who was in charge of the KT-Samsung game in Daegu on the 26th, emphasized that Kang Baek-ho should show more maturity, saying, “He received a lot of attention in a bad way, but now he has a year to judge right and wrong by himself.”

As a hitter, he admitted that he is capable. Commentator Park Jae-hong said, “He has a really good talent for hitting. He can become a hitter who can represent the KBO League.”

Of course, he doesn’t have anything to work on. Commentator Park Jae-hong said, “His over-swing has increased this season. In my experience, over-swinging throws off your balance. If you have good power and good hitting technique, you don’t need to over-swing to make good hits.”

“I have the confidence that I can do well, and I have a strong desire to hit it harder,” he said.

As of the 29th, Kang is batting .275 (44-for-163) with five home runs, 23 RBIs, and 26 runs scored. It’s certainly not a performance that matches expectations. It’s time to take Park’s advice.

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