Kiwoom Lee Jeong-hoo (25) and KT Kang Baek-ho (24).
They are the most talented hitter duo who will lead the present and future of Korean baseball. Being between seniors and juniors a year apart, they were healthy stimulants for each other. Although the two batters were close to perfection, they were rivals who made them feel that they were lacking.
Lee Jung-hoo was envious of Kang Baek-ho’s long hitting power. He steadily increased his long hitting power and succeeded. He raised his slugging percentage from the 40% range at the beginning of his debut to the 50% level, and last season, he ranked first in slugging percentage with 0.575.
Kang Baek-ho envied Lee Jung-hoo’s sophistication. He steadily increased his accuracy, and he succeeded. In 2021, he ranked third with a whopping 0.346 batting average. Although the number of home runs decreased, the nutritional value increased. He had 40 doubles and 102 RBIs, the first triple digits in his debut. His on-base percentage was 0.450, ranking second, ahead of leading hitter Lee Jung-hoo (0.438).
The rivalry between Kang Baek-ho and Lee Jung-hoo’s two genius hitters.
Naturally, it led to a measure of pride, a ransom competition. A steep upward curve was drawn with a similar slope. When Lee Jeong-hoo, a senior by one year, runs away, Kang Baek-ho follows.
Lee Jung-hoo reached 1.1 billion won by setting the record for the highest annual salary in each season until the 7th year.
Kang Baek-ho continued to pursue until the fifth year. Ahead of the 2019 season, Lee Jung-hoo’s second-year salary (110 million won) was renewed with an increase of 93 million won to 120 million won. He won 210 million won in the 3rd year → 310 million won in the 4th year → 550 million won in the 5th year, standing shoulder to shoulder with Lee Jung-hoo’s 5th year.
It is this season that the salary graph, which has been steadily rising, has reached an inflection point. Last year, amidst two injuries, he had his worst performance since his debut and bowed his head. 47.3%, close to half, was cut and signed for 290 million won. After leading the combined championship in 2021, he vomited up more than last year’s increase. The gap in annual salary with Lee Jung-hoo, which was 200 million won, widened to 810 million won.
Both the money and the situation hurt one’s self-esteem. 메이저놀이터
While Kang Baek-ho had the worst season, Lee Jung-hoo had the best season. He won 5 batting titles and became the first rich MVP in history. The future is also rosy. Lee Jung-hoo, who will fill the 7th season, will finish this season and under the club’s consent, he will go on a challenge to advance to the major leagues. He also signed an agency contract with ‘Super Agent’ Scott Boras to advance into the US. Win-win, it’s a flower road.
Kang Baek-ho was only registered for 114 days in 62 games last year due to an injury. It is excluded from the season for calculating FA qualification requirements. After completing four seasons, he still has a long way to go before he meets the FA qualification requirements.
But it’s too early to despair. Kang Baek-ho is a regular member of the national team. He can make up for what he lacked last year with participation reward points. The 2023 season starts anew. The starting point is the WBC held in March.
If he shows off his presence on the international stage with Lee Jung-hoo, who will attract the attention of American scouts, he can be spotlighted as a scene stealer. It is an important turning point to recover the lost pride and start a new season full of confidence. The only thing to watch out for is impatience.
Kang Baek-ho will leave the country separately on the 31st due to delayed salary negotiations. A genius hitter who shook off his raw pride and stood on a new starting line. A fierce battle with himself begins in Arizona, USA.