Baseball’s favorite slugger is back.
This season, Hong Chang-ki (30-LG Twins) is starting to shine again. Through 25 days, Hong has a .439 on-base percentage, tied for first with teammate Moon Sung-joo (.441). Out of the 60 batters who have gotten regular at-bats, only six have a slugging percentage above 4%.
RBIs are Hong’s strongest “weapon. He led the league in on-base percentage (.456) in 2021, his second full-time season. That year, he was ahead of both Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz – 0.450) and Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes – 0.438), making a name for himself among baseball fans. He also drew 109 walks, the most in the league, making him a tricky hitter. In recognition of his value, his salary rose from 100 million won to 320 million won, the highest salary (excluding free agents) and raise (220%) in the team. It was literally a “career high.
Hong’s arm lost its sharpness last year. His on-base percentage dropped to .390. While still a respectable number, it was a far cry from the previous season, when it was well over 4%. In June, he injured his adductor (side) muscle. His performance in the first half of the season (64 games, 0.403 OPS) dropped in the second half (54 games, 0.374 OPS). “I was in great shape during the exhibition games, so I should have been a little more careful,” Hong said. Even after I came back, I was injured when I was getting better,” said Hong.
The keyword this season is grit. They’ve been working on it since spring training in Arizona, USA. LG hitting coach Lee Ho-joon said, “From camp, I practiced a lot to hit the ball hard before the second strike. “We tried to eliminate the fear of swinging for the fences,” he said. “After the second strike, we tried to utilize our strengths to make contact and compete with pitches.” He explained the direction.
He was so concerned about getting on base that it threw off his batting balance. “I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t swing for the fences,” he says, “and I was behind the plate a lot.” “I kept fouling off pitches, so I didn’t have good at-bats. Before strike two, I worked a lot on creating my own pitches. I worked a lot on pulling my point forward and sending the ball down the first base line.” As his on-base percentage has increased, so has his batting average. Most of his offensive metrics are green.
Hong Chang-ki batted ninth in the opening game on April 1. LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop chose Seo Geon-chang to lead off. For Hong, who was primarily a table-setter last year, it could have been a bruised ego. He was not discouraged. In the first three games of the season, he batted a monster .600 (6-for-10) with a .714 OPS. Encouraged by his performance, Yeom changed his game plan and immediately made Hong the leadoff hitter. 안전놀이터
“I think 0.380 is high, so it would be good to keep it above that,” Hong said in an interview with this magazine in April, emphasizing that “my biggest goal this season is to not get sick.” A “healthy” Hong is on track to achieve her goal, thanks to her ability to get on base.