Kiwoom Heroes outfielder Lee Jung-hoo’s bat is exploding with power.
Lee had three hits (one home run), one RBI, two runs scored and three walks against the LG Twins in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome on Sunday. The teams were unable to settle for a 5-5 victory in 12 extra innings to earn their first tie of the season, but Lee did his part with a six-strikeout game.
After leading off the game with a single to left field in the first inning, Lee pulled a cutter from Adam Plutko over the wall behind right field for a solo home run in the third inning with the score tied 1-1. In the sixth inning, he completed his three-hit performance with an exquisite double down the right field line. A hit for the cycle, one short of a triple.
In his other three at-bats, he had virtually no at-bats. Lee made a name for himself in the eighth, ninth, and 12th innings, drawing straight balls in all three at-bats. His three hits, three walks, and six total bases on balls broke his personal record for most bases in a game (previously five). It was two short of the league record of eight (April 9, 2010) set by current Kiwoom Futures coach Kim Tae-wan.
Even if he doesn’t break the record, the numbers are significant enough for Lee. Lee had struggled with his bat earlier in the season, hitting .429 in four games at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, so his April performance (0.218), which was barely above his season average, was all too familiar. Even Lee said, “I have never experienced such a long slump before.”
However, Lee gradually revitalized his 안전놀이터 batting with a 0.305 average last month and has exploded in June. In 10 games from June 26 against Lotte to June 7 against LG Electronics, Lee is batting .475 with 19 hits in 40 at-bats (3 home runs). Nearly half of his hits have been singles. His season batting average has also recovered nearly three percent (0.290) from a low of 0.194.
Half of his six home runs on the season have come in his last 10 games, and he has seven multi-hit games in those 10 games, so all of his strengths are back, including his precision and long ball power. As the centerpiece of the team’s batting lineup, Lee’s guilt has been high as the team has been dragged down by his slump, but now he can take some of the pressure off.
Meanwhile, Lee has a good chance of making the final roster for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which will be announced on Sept. 9. “If I go to the Asian Games, I want to make sure I have a lot of team wins before I leave,” Lee said, but the team is still struggling to hold onto eighth place. Now it’s time for Lee to really shine.