It’s not Yang Ji Woo (Doosan Bears) or Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes). It’s Hong Chang-ki (30-LG Twins), who is the KBO’s best first-half hitter this season.
His first-half slugging percentage is 0.449. It’s first out of 52 hitters with at-bats. He’s been leading since May. His June-July OPS is 0.462, which is higher than his season average. “It’s good that I was able to get on base a lot and help the team, but I’m not too worried about it because it’s only the first half of the season (not the whole season),” he said in an interview.
LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop’s plan for the season went awry early on. Veteran leadoff hitter Seo Gun-chang was struggling and needed to be replaced. Hong Chang-ki was the next best option for Yeom. Since the fourth game of the season, Hong has been batting first, and his performance has exceeded expectations. He’s been a key part of the team’s first-half surge, providing chances to the center of the order. LG returned home with 49 wins, two draws and 30 losses, 2.5 games ahead of SSG Landers (46 wins, one draw and 32 losses).토토사이트
Strengths came alive. Hong Chang-ki is a former Chulu King in the 2021 season. He didn’t break out after his debut in 2016, but he played in all 144 games that year and posted a .456 OPS. He won the title after a hard-fought battle with Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz – 0.450). However, his performance last season was minimal. In June, Hwak-geun injured his adductor (side) muscle. After being sidelined for three to four weeks, she returned but her hitting plummeted. Even his trademark on-base percentage dropped to .390, down more than six points from the previous year.
Realizing the importance of his health, Hong focused on injury prevention throughout spring training. He also spent a lot of time doing strengthening exercises. His dedication paid off. He played 80 of the team’s 81 games in the first half of the year. As his playing time increased, his offensive metrics began an upward curve: his on-base percentage improved, as well as his batting average against left-handed pitching (0.264 to 0.355), a weakness that had been noted.
LG Twins’ Hong Chang-ki leads the KBO in on-base percentage in the first half of the season. IS Photo
“There are still a lot of games left in the second half. I think my batting average can drop at any time,” he said, adding, “I think last year it looked more like I was weak against left-handed pitchers because I was off-balance after my injury. I’m dealing with it the same way as last year, but I think I’m lucky that the results are better.” LG hitting coach Lee Ho-joon said, “I practiced a lot since camp to hit the ball hard before the second strike. We tried to get rid of the fear of wasted swings.”
LG hasn’t won the Korean Series (KS) since 1994. This year is the right time to quench that thirst. That’s why Hong Chang-ki, the “Jamsil Assault Captain,” is particularly interested in the second half of the season. “I don’t have any personal goals. I will try not to care about my personal performance,” he said, “I think my performance will be worse if I care about it. Instead, I’m going to focus on helping the team win a lot,” he said.