“Chan Ho-hyung and Do-young come in between. It’s fun.”
The power of the trio has been crucial to KIA’s second-half batting average of .292 and OPS of .815. Park Chan-ho (No. 9), Choi Won-joon (No. 1), and Kim Do-young (No. 2) provide offensive spark, connections, and self-sufficiency. If they synergize with the center lineup, they can go for big innings.
Park Chan-ho, Choi Won-joon, and Kim Do-young all have good contact and power by default. Choi Won-jun and Kim Do-young also have enough ability to solve problems. However, leadoff hitter Choi Won-jun has struggled since being called up in mid-June. In 35 games, he’s batting .255 with one home run, 14 RBI, 23 runs scored, six doubles, and a .686 OPS.
However, Choi is regaining his hitting form. “I’m not exactly back to my 2021 form, but I’m getting there,” he said after the Gwangju Hanwha game on April 4. He went hitless in nine at-bats against Hanwha on May 5 and 6.
The triple setter is both similar and different from the traditional table setter. Choi Won-jun is the leadoff hitter, but he also plays the role of the No. 2 hitter. Park Chan-ho bats ninth, but he is also the leadoff hitter, which means that Choi Won-joon may have to fulfill the role of sacrifice bunt or hit-and-run if Park Chan-ho comes to bat in a close game. He can also be a solution at third base when his batting form improves, and when Chan-ho can get to second base on his own with his unique mobility.
Modern baseball has long since abandoned the traditional batting order. Triple-setters are leading the way in role disruption. Choi Won-jun says, “Between Chan-ho and Do-young, it’s fun. It’s fun because it puts the opponent under pressure. That’s the condition of a strong team. Our team is a strong team.”
When Park Chan-ho gets on base, Choi Won-jun is able to take advantage of the other team’s slightly simpler pitch mix. The moment he realizes that Chan-ho is going to steal, he’ll have to switch to a fastball-heavy lineup. In fact, Choi said, “When Chan-ho is out, I can’t throw a changeup that doesn’t fall.”안전놀이터
This means that Park Chan-ho’s ability to steal bases can help Choi Won-joon, Choi Won-joon’s ability to steal bases can help Kim Do-young, and Kim Do-young’s ability to steal bases can help Na Sung-beom, the No. 3 hitter. So, depending on the flow of the game, it might be better for a runner to pretend to steal second base than to actually do it. “You can’t just wait for a good ball and hit it,” Choi said.
As a triple-setter, Choi said, “The results are lucky. I’ve been studying baseball since I was a businessman.” He is also proud. If he can improve his hitting, KIA’s scoring power could be significantly higher.
Manager Kim Jong-guk pushes Choi Won-jun to lead off even when he’s struggling a bit. Choi learned the importance of taking care of his body late in life, when he started lifting weights during his commercial career, and now he has the talent and hard work to play baseball well. The KIA triple-setter is only going to get better.