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Slugger Avenges 2006 Snub by Winning MVP Honors

Posted October. 26, 2010 11:38,   


In 2006, pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin made Korean baseball history by winning both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors in the same season.

The Daejeon Hanwha Eagles ace earned the league’s pitching Triple Crown – most wins (18) and strikeouts (205) and lowest earned-run average (2.23).

Slugger Lee Dae-ho of the Busan Lotte Giants also had a stellar season that year, winning the Triple Crown of batting by hitting .336 with 26 homers and 88 RBIs as well as leading the league in slugging percentage.

Nevertheless, Lee lost to Ryu in the MVP voting by 12 votes and looked disappointed when leaving the awards ceremony. Lee gave a satirical smile and said, “I think I’m the only player to earn four awards but to disappear from the awards ceremony hugely disappointed.”

Four years later Monday, Lee avenged his loss against Ryu at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel in Seoul by earning MVP honors for the first time.

Ryu, 23, had another stellar season despite Hanwha finishing at the bottom of the standings, leading the league in strikeouts (187) and ERA (1.82). He also had 23 consecutive starts of six innings or more with an ERA of under 3.00, something which has not been done even in the U.S. Major League Baseball.

Just as Ryu set a new standard for Korean pitchers in 2006, Lee did the same this season for hitters. In a vote of reporters covering Korean pro baseball, Lee won 59 of 92 votes while Ryu earned 30.

Hitting .364 with 44 homers and 133 RBIs, Lee led the league in an unprecedented seven statistical categories -- batting average, homers, RBIs, runs, hits, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He won so many trophies that he had to put down several of them when receiving the MVP award.

Lee, 28, also set a world record by homering in nine consecutive games Aug. 4-14.

“After leaving the awards ceremony deeply disappointed four years ago, I renewed my commitment to success and bit the bullet. I truly wanted to stand on this podium, and I feel very excited to stand here,” Lee said.

“Since getting married late last year, I’ve received much support from my wife. Since then, I’ve never had a drinking appointment in Busan. I’m very grateful to my wife for always standing by me in times of difficulty and happiness, and I want to tell her that I love her.”

The slugger has also been an MVP for the needy as well as for the league. The product of an underprivileged family, Lee said, “I’ve been helping the underprivileged every winter, and it’s great to win awards. I will consult my wife and donate the car I won as a prize to the needy.”