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How Long Can Korea`s Career Baseball Marks Last?

Posted May. 14, 2009 08:11,   


Korean pro baseball this season has seen milestones set in pitching and batting.

Hanwha Eagles pitcher Song Jin-woo, 43, topped 3,000 career innings April 9, while Samsung Lions hitter Yang Joon-hyuk, who turns 40 late this month, set the career homerun record with his 341st Friday. Records, however, are made to be broken.

How long these players` records will remain is uncertain. The Dong-A Ilbo has examined the records that the two players have the strongest affection.

○ Wins and innings marks hard to break

The records for most career pitching wins and innings are set in conjunction with each other. If one wants to win as a starting pitcher, he must pitch at least five innings. A review of active pitchers’ cumulative wins and innings shows the two rankings are the same for the top-ranked Song and seventh-ranked Lee Dae-jin of the Kia Tigers.

Hanwha pitcher Jung Min-chul ranked second in both areas, but the gap between his record versus Song’s is big. Jung needs 50 wins to exceed Song’s record of 210 wins.

Jung had six wins last season, but has been sent to the minors this season due to his sluggish performance. He has averaged 6.8 wins per season over the past five years.

Woori Heroes pitcher Kim Soo-kyung, 30, is the youngest pitcher to have at least 100 wins, but had only three last season. He is in a slump again this season at 1-5.

A younger pitcher in his 20s can try to set the wins record. The leading contender is Hanwha pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin, 22. Through three seasons, he has 49 wins and 578 and one third innings pitched for an average of 16.3 wins and 169 innings per season.

If Ryu averages 13 wins a season over the next 13 years, including getting five wins this season, he will secure 218 wins when he turns 34. Since the pitching mound is shared evenly by more players now than when Song was a rookie, chances are high that Song will keep his record longer than expected.

Even if Ryu pitches 169 innings on average per season, he must keep his performance consistent for 15 years. Hence, Song said, “Among my records, the 3,000 innings record will likely remain unbroken for the longest period of time.”

○ Yang leading in hits and homers

The gap between slugger Yang Joon-hyuk’s record and his rivals’ is not as large as Song’s. The gap is especially smaller in the number of homeruns.

The player closest to Yang`s mark is the SK Wyverns` Park Kyung-wan, 37, who is trailing by 46 homeruns. Park, who hit seven homers last season, has eight this season. If Park continues to hit 20 homeruns every year through 2012, when he will reach Yang’s current age, he will set the career homerun record with 347.

SK batter Park Jae-hong, 36, is another dark horse for the milestone. He has hit an average of 21.1 homeruns a season through last season. If he averages 20 homeruns over the next four years, he will reach 354.

Doosan Bears batter Kim Dong-joo, 33, who averaged 19.5 homeruns until last year, can top 350 if he maintains his pace over the next seven years. A potential obstacle is the relatively larger Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, where his team is based.

Hanwha batter Kim Tae-kyun, 27, who has averaged 21.1 homeruns per season, is a promising slugger who could top 340 roundtrippers at the age of 35.

In the number of hits, Kia Tigers batter Jang Sung-ho, 32, can reach 2,200 before he turns 40 if he continues to average 100 hits per season. Younger players including Kim Hyun-soo, 21, of Doosan and Chung Kun-woo, 27, of SK can also break Yang’s record at their current pace.

The question is how much longer Yang, who is confident over his physical strength, will remain active.