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Moonshot slugger Rho Si-hwan breaks out after 5 years

Posted July. 25, 2023 08:03,   

Updated July. 25, 2023 08:03


Rho Si-hwan (23, photo), who donned the Hanwha jersey in 2019, couldn't escape the critical whispers branding him as 'overrated.' By the end of last year, his fourth season since turning professional, Rho's resume boasted an average of just nine home runs per year in the major leagues.

Yet, this year paints a different picture for Rho Si-hwan. As of Monday this week, Rho has launched 19 home runs, tying for the lead in the home run race with Choi Jeong (36, SSG). This tally surpasses his previous single-season record of 18 home runs set in 2021.

Rho shared, "Since childhood, I aimed to become a slugger. However, the constant strikeouts shook my confidence and pushed my swing's contact point further back. I realized that I had to accept a certain level of strikeouts to become a home run hitter. That's something I was afraid of. But, coming into this season, I shifted my focus to moving my contact point forward to generate more power hits."

This season, Rho has significantly reduced his strikeout rate to just 18.2%. Besides his increased home run tally, his batting average has also climbed from 0.281 last year to a robust 0.308 this year. If he maintains this pace, Rho could finish the season with an average in the .300s for the first time since his professional debut.

Escaping a streak of hitless at-bats, Rho Si-hwan has been posting MVP-caliber numbers, boasting an OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) of 1.076 in run-scoring situations. Thanks to his stellar record, his team Hanwha's winning percentage has risen to .526 (20 wins, one draw, 17 losses), placing them fourth in the league during this period.

Bo-Mi Im bom@donga.com