Samsung shakes up league standings with ‘best team batting average in the second half’
The Samsung Lions, who are nearing full strength, are expected to shake up the KBO standings.
Samsung won a 10-6 road game against the Kiwoom Heroes at the Gocheok SkyDome in Seoul on March 30, taking a 2-1 record in a three-game weekend series. Samsung, which also went 2-1 in a three-game series against league runner-up SSG Landers on April 25-27, has won back-to-back series for the first time since the last week of April (April 25-30). They still sit at the bottom of the league (10th), but a late-season surge has narrowed the gap to ninth-place Kiwoom to three games.
The offense has been the driving force. In their nine games in the second half, Samsung is batting .323 (107-for-331) with 54 runs scored as a team. They ranked first among the 10 clubs in batting average, hits, and runs scored. Above all, they capitalized on scoring opportunities. The team batted .359 with runners in scoring position. This also ranked first.
Park Jin-man, Samsung’s head coach, said, “Koo Jae-rook’s return from injury added weight to the batting order, and Kim Sung-yoon did a great job as a licorice. The other players also did their jobs well, and all the cogs were clicking.”안전놀이터
Samsung suffered a setback on June 3 against the Hanwha Eagles when their top hitter, Koo Ja-rook, went down with a right hamstring injury. Over the next 15 games, the offense dropped significantly. The team was ninth in batting average (.247) and tied for eighth in runs scored (57). Foreign hitters Jose Pirela and Jae-il Oh, the “big guns,” also struggled to hit during this time.
However, the team’s offense improved after Koo returned. After returning on April 4, he played the last seven games of the first half of the season to get back into the swing of things, and in his nine games in the second half, he hit .395. He produced the most RBIs (11) among the team’s hitters during this period, and was particularly potent in the three-game midweek series against SSG, batting .692 (9-for-13).
Kim Sung-yoon, who Park Jin-man emphasized as the “licorice” of the team, has also been outstanding. He proved his maturity this season by setting career highs in games played (60) and at-bats (102). He went 8-for-15 in the three-game series against Kiwoom last weekend. In the top of the first inning of the third game on the 30th, he rattled opposing starter Jang Jae-young with an exquisite bunt single to right.
It’s not just the offense that has gotten stronger. David Buchanan, Albert Suarez, and Won Tae-in, the 1-3 starters, have all been in good form lately with quality starts (6+ innings and 3 earned runs or less). Additionally, left-hander Baek Jung-hyun, who was sidelined for over a month with elbow pain, made a solid comeback in his start against Kiwoom on April 30, throwing five and two-thirds innings of two-run ball. The starting lineup has also solidified.
Samsung is undefeated in the second half. It’s a far cry from June, when they were a “win machine” for their opponents. The team has the momentum to move beyond the relegation zone and into the mid-table. The race for the league standings is also shifting.
Samsung begins a three-game series against the KIA Tigers in Pohang on April 1. Kia is coming off a sweep of the Lotte Giants the previous weekend. This is the real test.