Valuable experience in the first 200 at-bats…Byun Woo-hyuk, the foundation for a power first baseman
Will KIA Tigers young slugger Byun Woo-hyuk (23) start at first base for the 2024 season?
Byun Woo-hyuk arrived in a KIA uniform via trade after last year’s season. KIA gave up two pitchers, Han Seung-hyuk and Jang Ji-soo, to acquire Byun. They saw potential in the 2019 first-round pick and invested. Expected to be a future center fielder and corner infielder with power, he was named to the opening roster.
On April 2, he made his first appearance at first base and batted fifth in the opening two games against the SSG Landers. He went 2-for-3 with two doubles, two walks, one RBI, and a run scored, including a solo home run in the second inning to give the team its first win. In the second game (April 7 against the Gwangju Doosan), he went 1-for-3 with a walk, a hit, a stolen base, and a run scored.
However, he fell into a hitting slump and finished the month of April with a 1-for-9 record, although he did hit a grand slam against Samsung Electronics in Gwangju on April 22. He alternated between third base and first base, but was not a starter. 바카라사이트 He was a platoon player, starting and coming off the bench depending on the opposing pitcher. Manager Kim Jong-kook said, “I’m starting my professional career now. For the next two to three years, he should continue to gain experience and improve his skills.”
Byun’s 2023 season was definitely fruitful
He gained the most experience since his debut. Byun played in 83 games and had 226 at-bats. He batted .226 with seven doubles, seven home runs, 24 RBIs, 26 runs scored, an OPS of .664, and a 2-for-6 slugging percentage. These are all career highs. Compared to his 61 at-bats in 2019 and 61 at-bats in 2021, he got a lot more opportunities.
The biggest area of improvement is his strikeout rate. A big man shouldn’t be afraid to strike out, but the rate is high. You could say he struck out almost once every three at-bats. He still doesn’t have a fast enough swing speed and he doesn’t react quickly enough at the plate. That’s why it’s important to analyze pitches, pitches, and pitchers. He needs to produce a lot of in-play hits. It comes from hard work and a lot of at-bats.
KIA has been without a first baseman for an entire season. Hwang Dae-in, their starter for the 2022 season, fell into a slump, and Byun Woo-hyuk was unable to establish himself. The first baseman was a wrinkle in the lineup. The team needs a 20-homer power first baseman to make a run. There are possibilities in free agency, but nothing is set in stone. The best answer is the development of Byun Woo-hyuk.
Next season is expected to be even better than this year. If he can raise his OPS to .800 as the starting first baseman, it would be a best-case scenario for him and the team. Of course, he’ll have to overcome stiff competition from the rebounding Hwang Dae-in. He’s been working hard at the Okinawa offseason camp. Naturally, his first goal next year will be to be the starting first baseman on Opening Day.