Kang Jeong-ho recommends ‘strong No. 2’ Kim In-hwan, Hanwha Shinhan… Choi Won-ho hits on No Lim-soo

In March, Kang Jeong-ho (36), a “former big leaguer” who runs a baseball academy in Los Angeles, analyzed the strength of the KBO’s 10 teams on his YouTube channel and predicted the season.

He analyzed each team from his own experience and perspective, but Hanwha drew attention when he advocated moving Kim In-hwan (29), a giant first baseman who hit 16 home runs last year, to the No. 2 spot in the batting order. At the time, Kang Jung-ho said, “New foreign hitter Brian O’Grady doesn’t have the same swing mechanics and doesn’t look as good. I think Kim In-hwan is more attractive than O’Grady,” he said, adding, “Personally, I think it would be fine for Kim In-hwan to bat second.”

For that reason, Kang Jung-ho said, “If Noh Soo-kwang or Jeong Eun-won are on first base, the probability of stealing is high, so the opposing pitcher or catcher will be aware. If you have a No. 2 hitter like Kim In-hwan, you will have an advantage because there is a high chance of a fastball coming in.” “With Chae Eun-sung at No. 3 and Roh Si-hwan at No. 4, there is a high chance that Kim In-hwan will win the game. Kim In-hwan at No. 2 looks a little more effective.”스포츠토토

What seemed like a novel idea at the time, the “Kim In-hwan as the No. 2 hitter” card is actually coming true. Kim In-hwan, who has been batting in the middle to lower order since the start of the season, has started six games in the No. 2 spot under Choi Won-ho, who favors a “strong No. 2.” In particular, he has batted second in the last four games in a row, from the 20th against KIA in Daejeon to the 23rd against NC in Changwon.

In all four games, he has hit safely and is batting 2-for-7 (5-for-18) with five RBIs, one walk and a 3-for-6 slugging percentage. Against the KIA on April 21, he hit a bases-loaded double to right in the third inning and then a bases-loaded double to right in the fifth inning to drive in the game-winning run. Against NC on the 23rd, he hit a huge two-run double to right-center field with runners on first and third in the third inning to score the game-winning run. This week alone, Kim In-hwan came through with two game-winning hits in the No. 2 spot in the batting order, and Hanwha has now won three straight games.

The long-hitting Kim In-hwan has put pressure on the opposition by batting second. “In-hwan is a long-hitting hitter, so when he gets on base, he’s always ready to run from first base to home,” said Lee Jin-young, who has established himself as a consistent leadoff hitter. With Noh Si-hwan at third and Chae Eun-sung at fourth, the other team can’t avoid battling with Kim In-hwan at second.

[OSEN=Changwon, Reporter Lee Seok-woo] On the 23rd, the game between the NC Dinos and the Hanwha Eagles of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League was held at NC Park in Changwon. Hanwha Eagles’ Kim In-hwan hits a double with runners on first and third in the third inning. 2023.06.23 / foto0307@osen.co.kr

[OSEN=Changwon, Reporter Lee Seok-woo] On June 23, the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League match between the NC Dinos and the Hanwha Eagles was held at NC Park in Changwon. Hanwha Eagles’ Kim In-hwan high-fives after hitting a two-run single with runners on first and third in the third inning. 2023.06.23 / foto0307@osen.co.kr

Choi Won-ho wanted to put a power hitter with a long bat in the No. 2 spot. “In the era of Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) and Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels) batting No. 2,” Choi said, “having a long-hitting player in the No. 2 spot makes it difficult for opponents. Also, if you look at the mid-to-late stages of the game, the chances come from the two. There are a lot of chances in the seventh through ninth innings that end up in the first or second innings. The 3-4 batters don’t even get in. I’ve been arguing that it’s better for the best players to bat first.”

The No. 2 spot has been one of Hanhwa’s main concerns this season. Their batting average (.185) and OPS (.509) are both at the bottom of the league. In response, Choi used Noh Si-hwan in the No. 2 spot early in his tenure. It only lasted four games, coinciding with Noh’s 43-game hitting streak, but Choi continued to want a “strong No. 2.” “Even if you don’t have a long-hitting tool, if you have a hitter with a high batting average or on-base percentage, you can use him at No. 2. There was also the practical reason that we lacked such resources.”

In that situation, Kim’s No. 2 card has worked out pretty well so far. New foreign batsman Nick Williams will be joining the team next week, but if Kim In-hwan keeps up his current form, he could end up batting fifth. The batting order of Lee Jin-young, Kim In-hwan, Noh Si-hwan, Chae Eun-sung, and Williams all have long balls, making it easier to drive in runs.

In the traditional sense of the word, a No. 2 hitter needs to be a run producer, but Choi is not counting on Kim In-hwan. Kim doesn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable batting second either. “I don’t pay much attention to the batting order, but I get more at-bats at No. 2. It’s nice to get one more at-bat,” he said. “I’m a long ball player. I’ll focus on hitting the long ball to get results.”

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