After defying expectations in last year’s postseason and finishing as runners-up in the Korean Series, the Kiwoom Heroes were genuinely looking to win their first title this season.
The club decided that 2023 would be the perfect time to do so, as their star hitter Lee Jung-hoo left the team after the season to join Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States.
However, the result was the lowest winning percentage in 12 years, which no one expected.
After completing their 144-game regular season schedule with a 2-3 loss to the SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 13th, Kiwoom finished with 58 wins, three draws, and 83 losses, a winning percentage of 0.411.
The 0.411 winning percentage is their lowest since 2011, when they finished last among the eight clubs with a 0.389 winning percentage.
Depending on the final results of the eighth-ranked Samsung Lions and ninth-ranked Hanwha Eagles, the rankings could change, but for now, the inaugural 10th place is a hard reality to ignore.
Kiwoom was ruled out of autumn baseball early on.
It’s been six years since Kiwoom missed the postseason after finishing seventh in 2017.
After making their first postseason appearance since their inception in 2013, and nine autumn games in their last 10 seasons, the ’emerging powerhouse’ has been plagued by bad luck this season.
Won Jong-hyun, the first “pitcher outside free agent” (FA) in franchise history, was limited to a few games and underwent elbow ligament splicing (Tommy John) surgery.
In addition, Lee Hyung-jong, an ambitious free agent signing from the Futures, performed below expectations, and Lee Won-seok, who was acquired through a trade with the Samsung Lions and signed a long-term contract, also struggled, so Kiwoom’s external transfusions all ended in failure.
Add to that the fact that Lee Jung-hoo suffered a serious batting slump early in the season, and Kiwoom was off to a rocky start.
Lee Jung-hoo came alive after mid-May, but aside from Lee Jung-hoo and Kim Hye-sung, Kiwoom was also hampered by the failure of its younger beasts to develop as expected.
The final nail in the coffin was Lee’s injury, as she underwent ankle surgery at the start of the second half.
When it was announced that Lee would not be able to play for the rest of the season, Kiwoom boldly pressed the ‘rebuild’ button and began preparing for the future.
If there was any consolation for Kiwoom, it was that outfielder Lee Joo-hyung, who was acquired from the LG Twins in exchange for Choi Won-tae, showed promise of developing into a league-leading beast.
In addition, Kim Hye-sung has received military service benefits from the Hangzhou Asian Games and could be the team’s centrepiece next year, while rookie catcher Kim Dong-heon has also improved through the Asian Games.
There is no Lee Jeong-hoo for Kiwoom from next year.
The team will need to work hard this winter to rebuild its strength in order to return to autumn baseball.
Kiwoom, which has given its players maximum autonomy in training, will begin a “record-breaking” high-intensity wrap-up training in Wonju, Gangwon Province, on the 22nd after the regular season ends this year.
Head coach Hong Won-ki has promised to use the intense training to discover new faces.
Kiwoom used the picks it acquired through trades to select a total of six players in the first through third rounds of the 2024 rookie draft.
Even if they don’t immediately contribute to the team’s strength next year, they should give Kiwoom hope for the future. 카지노사이트