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Yang Joon-hyuk is “Proud and Strong” Once Again

Posted October. 25, 2004 23:10,   


Samsung’s Yang Joon-hyuk (35) rid himself of an old burden at the Korean Series against Hyundai. He has finally broken the “postseason slump” jinx.

During the first three games, he had five hits in 10 at-bats, maintaining a batting average of 0.500, which is the best record not only on his own team, but also for both teams combined. Two home runs, four runs batted in, and three runs; in every game he has had hits and runs batted in, and he even hit a home run in both the first and third games.

Yang Joon-hyuk is often praised that “he can have a batting average of 0.300 even with his bat held upside down.” However he has always fallen into a slump during the “autumn festival,” the postseason games. His career batting average in the playoffs is only 0.224, and in the two Korean Series in which he participated, his batting average is 0.257.

Things did not seem to have changed much this year. In the playoffs against Doosan, his batting average was a mere 0.077; he had only one hit in 13 at-bats. Because his performance was so poor while in his usual third position in the lineup, he was once demoted to number six. Some even criticized him for being “weak in the big games” and “not having substance.”

However, Yang Joon-hyuk changed completely in the Korean Series. The starting signal was the home run in the first game, his first in 41 postseason games.

In Game 3, Yang Joon-hyuk walked in the third inning with two outs as the game was tied 3-3. He then stole a base, which is unbelievable for a 188cm, 95kg giant like him. Also, in the seventh inning with his team winning 7-3, he hit a home run that clinched his team’s victory.

Yang Joon-hyuk’s transformation is due to a thorough observation of Hyundai’s pitchers prior to the Korean Series, under the desire to lead the team to winning the championship ring. He occasionally gave up his trademark “Manse stroke (meaning `shouting Hooray at bat`)” and returned to his old stroke form when facing certain pitchers, a change which turned out to be very effective.

“The team is in a really good mood right now. I am confident that we will achieve something this year.” His voice had as much strength as the placard written “Proud and Strong Yang Joon-hyuk” which is hung up at Daegu Stadium.

Jong-Seok Kim kjs0123@donga.com