“Offensive shortstop” Oh Ji-Hwan (33-LG Twins) has been quiet on the home run front.
Oh has yet to report his first home run of the season. As of September 19, he has 222 plate appearances (52 games), but the long home run drought continues. Of the 54 batters who have had regular at-bats, seven have no home runs, including Oh. “Most of the seven batters are players who say, ‘I can do that,’ but Oh is a bit of an exception,” said Park Yong-taek, a KBS N Sports commentator.
Most of the hitters with ‘no home runs in regulation’ have weak long balls. One of the seven, Hong Chang-ki (LG), hit just one home run last year. Park Yong-taek is a player who can be expected to have a “home run drought” to some extent, but Oh Ji-hwan is a slightly different case. He hit 25 home runs last year. He broke both the single-season home run and RBI records and won his first Golden Glove for shortstop. He also became the sixth shortstop in history to join the 20 (home runs)-20 (stolen bases) club, joining Lee Jong-beom (1996-1997), Kang Jeong-ho (2012) and Kim Ha-seong (2016-2020).
After making his debut in 2009, Oh had a knack for hitting. He hit 13 home runs in his second season as a professional and reached the 20-homer plateau for the first time in 2016. Until last year, he had seven double-digit home run seasons in the first team. In the five years since 2018, he has been responsible for 10.2 percent (63) of the 619 home runs hit by LG batters. He ranks fourth on the team in home runs behind Kim Hyun-soo (93), Chae Eun-sung (now with the Hanwha Eagles – 80), and Yoo Kang-nam (now with the Lotte Giants – 70). It was Oh Ji-hwan who showed his punching power while playing the shortstop position, which has a heavy defensive burden. A club official said, “Of all the shortstops in the KBO, Oh is the one with the best offense, despite his defense. It’s really surprising that he hasn’t hit a home run yet.”
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t impatient. I think the first thing is how to get a feel for (hitting) rather than looking for the cause (of not hitting home runs).” Oh’s batting average (0.269 to 0.264) hasn’t changed much from the previous year. His on-base percentage (0.470 to 0.346) has dropped due to fewer home runs, but his slugging percentage (0.357 to 0.392) has increased. Third on the team and ninth in the league behind Hong Chang-ki (0.433) and Moon Sung-joo (0.405). This is the result of focusing on other areas rather than obsessing over home runs. LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop emphasizes that long balls will come naturally if the batting average improves.메이저놀이터
“Personally, after (the game) is over or before I go in, I think, ‘It’s time for me to come out.’ It’s unfortunate that I don’t, but circumstances change your mind,” he said. “Once you win a game, it’s the best, and you have to play that role (to help the team win). I try to do my best every game.”