“I don’t see any players who can hit long balls.”
Lotte Giants manager Kim Tae-hyung is conducting a final training session upon his appointment. After signing a three-year, 2.4 billion won contract (600 million won in down payment and 600 million won in annual salary) on the morning of the 20th, he held an inauguration ceremony on the 24th and a meeting on the 25th.
His overall impression of the squad was, “The players are very passionate when I see them outside. “It’s unfortunate that our performance dropped because we couldn’t get over the hump at one point, but I think we can do it,” he said, adding that he was confident that he could improve the team’s potential.
During his tenure as manager of Doosan, Kim Tae-hyung played relatively straightforward baseball. To this, he added the detail of relentlessly digging into the opponent’s gaps when he saw them. At Lotte, he has also made it a point to play aggressive, pushing baseball.
However, looking at the current roster composition, Kim saw what was needed. “I don’t think there are any big players in the outfield,” he said. “We have players who move fast, but they don’t hit long balls. We have some fast guys, but we don’t have a lot of power hitters who can hit long balls. I don’t think there are any big players.”
Kim Tae-hyung was faced with the problem of Lotte’s long ball power upon his arrival. The overall power of the Lotte lineup is at the bottom of the league. In 2023, the team’s 69 home runs ranked ninth in the league. Their on-base percentage is eighth at .362 and their OPS is eighth at .700. The most experienced player on the team, Jeon Jun-woo, leads the team in home runs with 17, followed by Yoo Kang-nam with 10. No other players have hit double-digit home runs.
Foreign hitters were supposed to solve the long ball woes, but Jack Rex, who hit eight home runs in the second half of last year, hit just four before going down with an injury late in the first half. His replacement, Nico Goodrum, was expected to be an athletic utility player, but he ended the season with zero home runs.
Manager Kim Tae-hyung asked the club for a foreign player with a long bat. Goodrum was out. Kim Tae-hyung said, “I’m not worried about foreign hitters. I’m going to change Goodrum. First of all, his utilization value drops a lot because he can’t play defense.” He added, “Foreign batters should have long batting power. We are prioritizing long balls,” he said, sharing his plans for foreign batters.
He continued, “It’s true that I don’t have long batting power. The hitters who can hit big and pose a threat to the opponent are the ones who have the power to hit home runs, but I feel that the overall power is lacking,” he continued, expressing his disappointment with the current roster. 굿모닝토토
Artificially changing the current roster is not something that Kim Tae-hyung can do on his own. Instead, the selection of foreign batters, the overall improvement of batting coaching, and changes in the external environment are areas that can be discussed with the club. A prime example is the “resignation monster,” a barrier that has been raised ahead of the 2022 season.