The KIA Tigers, who are looking to reach the postseason for the second year in a row, are a team with a strong batting lineup. Na Sung-beom, who returned from a calf injury in late June, is proving to be one of the best hitters in the league with a 1.038 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage), and the team has a solid center field with Choi Hyung-woo, Socrates, and Lee Woo-sung, as well as young infielders like Kim Do-young and Park Chan-ho.
Ko Jong-wook and Lee Chang-jin, who have been used as pinch-hitters since returning from injury, have the hitting ability to compete for a starting spot on any other team. Teams facing KIA have to be wary of their batting lineup, which can explode at any moment.
However, after the August 6 game, their captain Kim Sun-bin was removed from the first team due to a hamstring injury, leaving a hole in their lineup, and they have gone 1-3 since then. The reason is the infield defense. Since Kim Sun-bin, the main second baseman, has been out of the lineup due to injury, the defense has become increasingly unstable.
While the team has infielder Kim Gyu-sung, who was praised for his improvement after playing in the Australian League last winter, he hasn’t filled the void at all this season, batting just .219 and making a lot of errors on defense.
With a hole in the infield, the KIA bench removed Kim Kyu-sung from the game against the LG Twins on April 9 and inserted Lee Chang-jin as a pinch hitter, and then tried a risky defensive lineup of Lee Chang-jin at third base, Kim Do-young at shortstop, and Park Chan-ho at second base, which resulted in a crucial error that cost them the game.
Lee Chang-jin, a 10-year pro, was an infielder when he joined the team but switched to the outfield after his rookie year. Even after his transfer to KIA in 2018, he was always an outfielder, so it was awkward for him to play the infield for a short time. 안전놀이터
In fact, Ryu Ji-hyuk, who was able to cover the entire infield, including his main position of third base, was used in this situation, but Ryu has already been traded. The KIA bench is in urgent need of a new solution.
In fact, KIA doesn’t need all of its infielders to be good hitters. They have good hitters in the outfield, including Na Sung-beom, Socrates, Lee Woo-sung, and designated hitter Choi Hyung-woo, and they also have Kim Do-young and Park Chan-ho in the infield. With Kim Sun-bin out of the lineup, there is a growing consensus that the team can improve its chances of winning by focusing on defense rather than hitting.
It would be great if all nine players in the starting lineup could hit well, but realistically, it’s hard to build such a lineup, and it’s not necessary. It will be interesting to see if KIA, which lost a game to an infield error in the 13th against the Lotte Giants, a top-five contender, can find an alternative to Kim in the future.