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Kim Tae-kyun gets on base in 65 games through unique batting form

Kim Tae-kyun gets on base in 65 games through unique batting form

Posted April. 24, 2017 07:32,   

Updated April. 24, 2017 07:35

A man who can say "no" when all others say "yes."

This is not just an advertising copy from the past. This is the secret behind Kim Tae-kyun (35) of the Hanwha Eagles, who has set a new record in getting on base in consecutive 65 games in the Korean pro-baseball league.

In his 17th year in the professional league, Kim has been able to achieve the milestone due to his unique batting form. Hidden behind Kim’s batting form, in which he keeps his body standing low with his two feet widely spread as if riding a horse, are diverse batting mechanisms, which enable him to make crisp swings while watching the pitch as long as one can.

Whereas many batters generally perform stride (holding up his frontal foot before placing the foot when batting) to boost power in their hits, Kim Tae-kyun has both of his feet tightly affixed on the ground when batting, which is quite unique. He does that to concentrate on watching the pitch as long as he possibly can, while avoiding his sight being swayed. For the same reason, he intentionally attaches his jaw onto his left shoulder when batting as well. When one sees the pitch longer, he can better cope with changeups. The fact he very rarely performs takeback (briefly moving the bat backward when hitting a pitch) also helps him better cope with changeups.

Kim’s ability to select pitches based on his batting form has played a critical role in him setting new records. Even when he had no hits in 10 consecutive games during 65 games since August 7 last year, Kim Tae-kyun was still able to garner walks and continued to break his on-base record. The ratio of Kim’s 14 walks and seven strikeouts in this season is 2, the highest in the Korean league. Kim is not the kind of batter who relies solely on preciseness. By making most of his big physique measuring 185 centimeters tall and weighing 110 kilograms, his inherently strong power and the robust spinning energy of his hip, he remains highly competitive in slugging capability as well.

While continuing his record-breaking performance in a game against the KT Wiz on Sunday, Kim is challenging to break the current Asian on-base record (69 consecutive games) that Ichiro Suzuki (44) set while playing for the Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese league in 1994. Now, some people even start mentioning the Major League record (84 consecutive games) set by Ted Williams (1918 – 2002) in 1949. “I will do my best in every time at bat,” Kim said. Fans wonder whether he will overcome Ichiro’s record. Kim was substituted in the second inning on the day since he felt pain in his right thigh while dashing to the first base, but his injury is reportedly minor.

Hong-Gu Kang windup@donga.com