‘Fourth and fifth place are at stake’ Lotte misses her belly too much
The Lotte Giants are feeling the absence of Bok-doong, the third-generation Japanese-American.
Lotte is last in team winning percentage in June (0.273). They are 6-16 from the first to the 25th of the month. After finishing the opening month in first place, Lotte was in a three-way tie for first place with the SSG Landers and LG Twins until early June. Now that they’ve lost the third spot to the NC Dinos, the fourth spot is in jeopardy. After posting a winning percentage in the high sixes in April (0.636) and May (0.591), it has plummeted to 0.273 this month. They have lost six straight series and are struggling in the middle of the pack.
Lotte manager Larry Sutton said “injuries” are the biggest reason for the recent slump. “Especially Ahn Kwon-soo, who has been hitting very well as the No. 1 hitter,” he said. Ahn, 30, is recovering from bone chip surgery on his elbow earlier this month.
Ahn was released by the Doosan Bears at the end of last year. He is a third-generation Korean-American who was born and raised in Japan, but will have to enlist in the military after the 2023 season to continue playing in Korea. With that in mind, Doosan decided to give a younger player a chance, bringing in Lotte’s untouchable Ahn Kwon-soo.
After competing for the No. 1 spot in the lineup from the start, Ahn took over the leadoff spot in April and hit .309 with a .363 on-base percentage and .420 slugging percentage. Last year, the player with the most at-bats for Lotte was Ahn Chi-hong, who is batting fourth or fifth this season. Ahn solved Lotte’s number one hitter problem. Ahn’s performance has helped Lotte win the title. “The driving force behind Lotte’s rise in April was the presence of Na Kyun-ahn and Ahn Kwon-soo in the batting order,” said former national team coach Kim In-sung.메이저놀이터
Ahn Kwon-soo’s batting pace slowed down in May due to elbow pain, so he played more at No. 2 than No. 1. Kim Min-seok, who took over the batting duties, had the most at-bats as the team’s No. 1 hitter in May (95), batting .256 with a .315 on-base percentage.
In June, however, both Hwang and Kim have struggled at the top of the order. Both have a 2-for-5 OPS as the No. 1 hitter. Instead, Go Seung-min has been hitting well in the leadoff spot of late, with a .250 batting average, .345 on-base percentage, and .417 slugging percentage, but he’s not a typical leadoff hitter.
Lotte’s leadoff batting averages have been declining: 0.350 (April), 0.307 (May), and 0.283 (June). This month, the leadoff hitter’s on-base percentage is the lowest among the 10 teams. The offense hasn’t been able to find the right person to consistently open up the offense.
Ahn Kwon-soo has been a great role model for the younger players in the dugout. He has a lot of juniors who trust him. Hwang Sung-bin even wore Ahn’s elbow pads at one point to keep up the good vibes. Second-year player Yoon Dong-hee said, “(Ahn) Kwon-su takes care of me so well on and off the field that I feel a void in the dugout.” Rookie Kim Min-seok said, “(Ahn) Kwon-soo explained the game plan to me before I stepped into the batter’s box.”
Sutton added, “Kwon-soo Ahn was a dynamic player who led Lotte Baseball. She was a dynamic player who led a dynamic Lotte baseball team.” Sutton said, “We miss her because of her ability to get on base and her situational hitting. Ahn is expected to return to action as early as September.