Oh Jae-il (Samsung) and Chae Eun-seong (Hanwha) were also turned away. Instead, Kang Baek-ho (KT) has established himself as a potential first baseman and designated hitter.
The 30-man final entry for the Korean WBC national team has been confirmed. Technical Committee Chairman Cho Beom-hyun and national team coach Lee Kang-cheol attended a press conference held at the KBO and revealed the background of the national team entry selection and utilization plan. The most eye-catching part is the sudden selection of Park Byeong-ho and Kang Baek-ho (above KT).
Park Byeong-ho was not on the 50-man reserve list. This is because he was unsure of his physical condition at the time. However, coach Lee and 스포츠토토 the technical committee judged that Park Byeong-ho could play normally in the WBC, and he was boldly put into the final roster. There was also a comment from director Lee Kang-cheol that Park Byung-ho expects a shot. If Byeong-ho Park is healthy, he is definitely worth it.
However, Kang Baek-ho’s selection is slightly difficult to understand. Kang Baek-ho only played 62 games in the 2022 season due to toe and hamstring injuries. He had a batting average of 0.245, 6 homers, and 29 RBIs with an OPS of 0.683. It was his worst year since his 2018 debut.
Among the first baseman candidates included in the WBC interest list, Choi Ji-man (Pittsburgh Pirates) was included, while Oh Jae-il and Chae Eun-seong were eliminated. Looking at the results of the 2022 season alone, Oh Jae-il had a batting average of 0.268 with 21 homers and 94 RBIs in 135 games, and Chae Eun-seong had a batting average of 0.296 in 126 games and 12 homers and 83 RBIs in OPS 0.791. In terms of productivity alone in 2022, Oh Jae-il and Chae Eun-seong were one step above Kang Baek-ho.
However, in the last three years, Oh Jae-il has raised more than 90 RBIs with around 20 homers. Chae Eun-seong produced 15 homers and 8-90 RBIs. On the other hand, Kang Baek-ho has averaged 22 homers since his debut in 2018, with a little more than 90 RBIs. In other words, if the section is set a little wider, the selection of Kang Baek-ho is understandable.
Still, the concern is that when Kang Baek-ho divided the 2021-2022 season into quarters in the first half and second half, it continued to fall. In the case of 2021, he had a batting average of 0.395, 10 homers and 61 RBIs in 75 games in the first half, and a batting average of 0.294, 6 homers and 41 RBIs in 67 games in the second half. In the 2022 season, he had a batting average of 0.268, 3 homers and 10 RBIs in 22 games in the first half, and a batting average of 0.232, 3 homers and 19 RBIs in 40 games in the second half.
Player selection is entirely a decision between the technical committee and coach Lee Kang-cheol. In particular, director Lee is a leader who knows Kang Baek-ho better than anyone else. It should be said that Kang Baek-ho was selected for the national team after seeing that he would revive from the WBC. Kang Baek-ho has one more reason to revive this year. In the case of the opposite, you have to handle the criticism public opinion.
Coach Lee revealed that he intends to use Kang Baek-ho mainly as a designated hitter. In fact, it is evaluated that Park Byeong-ho is a little more stable than Kang Baek-ho, just looking at the defense. Choi Ji-man, who underwent elbow surgery, has yet to receive permission from Pittsburgh. If the club eventually disapproves, the system of designated hitter Kang Baek-ho and first baseman Park Byung-ho is likely to come into operation.
If Choi Ji-man safely participates in the WBC, more diverse combinations are possible. As Choi Man-man also has good defense, if a defensive lineup is formed, Choi Ji-man and Park Byeong-ho can share the first baseman and designated hitter role, and Kang Baek-ho can stand by as a pinch hitter. Of course, the condition of the day is the most important. Anyway, Kang Baek-ho’s selection for the national team is read as a win-win.