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Individual, Team Races In Spotlight After Korean Baseball All-Star Break

Individual, Team Races In Spotlight After Korean Baseball All-Star Break

Posted July. 20, 2004 22:20,   


Korean professional baseball will resume its season and pennant race starting July 20, after its All-Star break. Now that the All-Star break is over, the teams will be playing fiercely in order to advance to the playoffs, and the competition among players for individual titles will be severe.

Fourth place Kia is only two games behind leader Hyundai and five games ahead of fifth place SK. It is very likely that Hyundai, second place Doosan, third place Samsung, and Kia will advance to the playoffs. Hence, those four teams will battle each other to earn a direct ticket to the Korean Series, which is awarded to the pennant winner.

Nevertheless, it is still early for SK and sixth place LG to give up the race. If they manage to start winning streaks, they can always catch up.

Another point to watch is whether Lotte, with its record three consecutive last-place finishes, will manage to rise from the bottom. Although Lotte had a nightmarish June, with four wins, six draws, and 15 losses, it is drawing hope from its July 4-4 record over eight games.

Hyundai, with its uneasy lead, is hoping for Chung Min-tae, who is having a terrible season with four wins and nine losses, and “Friday Man” Kim Soo-kyung, who 7-3, to recover from their slumps.

Doosan, which was slowed down with a team-record tying five-game losing streak before the All-Star game, has regained its strength during the break.

On the other hand, Kia, who struggled in the first half of the season due to the breakdown of its pitching staff, has a clear forecast ahead with its pitchers coming back from the disabled list. Ace Kim Jin-woo recovered from a right knee injury, and Choi Sang-duk no longer suffers from back pains and plans to join the starting rotation next month.

On the individual player level, joint home-run leaders Park Kyung-wan (SK) and Brumbaugh (Hyundai), both with 25 homers each, will resume their slugging.

The fiercest competition is taking place in batting average: Hanhwa’s Davis is the leader with his .346 batting average, but SK’s Lee Jin-young (.344), Brumbaugh (.343), and Hanhwa’s Kim Tae-kyoon (.340) are right behind him.

As for most wins, Doosan’s Rath, Kia’s Rios, and Samsung’s Bae Young-soo are the joint-leaders with nine wins, with three eight-game winners, Doosan’s Park Myung-hwan, LG’s Chang Moon-suk, and Hyundai’s Cho Yong-joon, chasing them.

Hanhwa’s “Evergreen” Song Jin-woo will achieve his record breaking 180th win if he wins four more games, and if he pitches 12 1/3 more innings, he will have pitched 2,500 innings, which would also be a new record. Furthermore, Hanhwa’s “Record man” Chang Chong-hoon will set a new career record of 1,000 walks if he is walked eight more times.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com