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Research Study Shows Lee Could Hit 40 or More Homeruns in Japan

Research Study Shows Lee Could Hit 40 or More Homeruns in Japan

Posted January. 28, 2004 23:36,   


“He will be able to hit more than 40 homeruns in Japan.”

The primary concern of baseball fans this year is how many homeruns 28-year-old Lee Seung-yeop of the Chiba Lotte Marines will hit in his Japanese baseball debut. The “Mecca of Korean Science,” KAIST, (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) says Lee will hit at least 40.

Doctor Cha Kyoung-cheon is the main researcher at Forbizone, a research center for predicting future events based in KAIST. In charge of marketing analysis of new products in domestic big companies, he developed a predictive mathematical model by analyzing Lee’s Asian homerun records (56 homeruns).

The analysis shows that Lee slammed more homeruns in his at bats at home games during the day and in weekday games than he did in away games, at night and in weekend games. In addition, if he received more strikeouts or walks in a previous game, it was more likely that he would hit homeruns the next day.

One impressive fact is that the number of homeruns predicted wasn’t based on the size of stadiums. Considering the distance to center field, Lee didn’t seem to be much affected by it, as he hit four homeruns in Kwangju (113m) and two homeruns in Daejun (114m) and Chamsil (125m), respectively.

Therefore, Cha doesn’t think it is a big deal even if the Chiba Lotte Marines’ stadium (99.5m to left or right field, 122m to center field) is a bit larger than Daegu Stadium (95m, 117m) where Lee hit 35 homeruns last year.

The most important factor is that Lee has to face Japanese pitchers whose average pitch speed is 5 kilometers per hour faster than Korean players. Cha introduced a method of comparison and analogy. It predicts Lee’s performance by tracking the records of players who are experienced both in the Korean and Japanese leagues.

Cha selected Kia’s Lee Jong-beom, who had a batting average of .324 in 1997 in Korea and .238 in 1998 and 1999 for Junichi; Tyron Woods, who hit 42 homeruns in his debut for the Korean league and won the homerun title by hitting 40 homeruns for Yokohama last year; and Jose Fernandez, who hit 45 homeruns for SK in 2002 and recorded 32 homeruns for Lotte in Japan last year, as models to compare with Lee.

Consequently, Lee could hit up to 53 homeruns according to Woods’s model because Woods has similar characteristics to Lee as a slugger and the fact that Lee can hit 42 and 40 homeruns respectively compared to Lee Jong-beom and Fernandez’s batting average and homeruns.

In any case, he could hit more than 40 homeruns.

“Conditions should be sufficient if the predicted results are to come true. There should be fans who support Lee in Japan just as in Korea, and batters before and behind Lee should help him out,” Cha said. “Please consider that it this is being deduced only from data.”

Hwan-Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com