“Supersonic” Bae Ji-hwan (24, Pittsburgh), who showed his skills in the Major League (MLB) without regret during the month of April, is having a difficult May. Bitter voices are also coming out in the United States.
By the 18th (Korean time),메이저놀이터 Bae Ji-hwan has participated in 40 games of the season, with a batting average of 0.237, 2 homers, 11 RBIs, 14 stolen bases, and an OPS of 0.609. In particular, in the stolen base category, he was second in the National League following Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta, 18 steals), showing off his quick feet.
Bae Ji-hwan, who stepped on the big league stage for the first time last year, started off well by joining the roster for this year’s opening match. He played a variety of positions, including center fielder, second baseman, and shortstop, and contributed to the team with his high-level base play. The opportunity to play has increased as the starting shortstop O’Neill Cruz left due to an ankle fracture.
Bae Ji-hwan himself made good use of the given opportunity. He stole 11 bases during the month of April, and while he couldn’t be said to be outstanding at the plate, he played a minimal role with a .250 batting average. Pittsburgh, supported by Bae Ji-hwan, showed better than expected with a record of 20-9 by the end of April.
This led to favorable reviews from the locals as well. American media Pittsburgh Baseball Now said, “Bae Ji-hwan’s ability helped Pittsburgh start this season strong.” The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette also praised Bae Ji-hwan, saying, “Bae Ji-hwan is performing brilliantly in both offense and defense.”
Bae Ji-hwan. /Photo = Pittsburgh club official SNS
However, Bae Ji-hwan’s momentum has subsided for a while in May. Until the game on the 18th, he appeared in 13 games in May and is showing poor batting results with a batting average of 0.206 and an OPS of 0.506. There was also a period when he was silent with no hits in 5 consecutive games after a multi-hit game against Tampa Bay on the 4th. Compared to Juru, the blow that I heard regretful words fell more.
The problem is that April’s stealing pace doesn’t come out. Bae Ji-hwan has not been able to add a stolen base since the game against Toronto on the 6th. By the end of April, he recorded a successful base stealing rate of 91.7% (11 stolen bases/12 attempts), and was in the ‘run and steal’ mode. In May, he stole three bases and failed three times. It seems that his opponent’s analysis and containment, and his own on-base reduction were intertwined in a complex way.
In response, Pittsburgh Baseball Now tied catcher Austin Hedges (OPS 0.483), third baseman Ki Brian Hayes (OPS 0.618), and Bae Ji-hwan, who were similarly silent, and even wrote the expression, “One-third of the batting line is a black hole.” Regarding Bae Ji-hwan, he continued to point out, “I made up for my poor batting ability with running base play, but the success rate dropped in May.”
Even in this situation, Bae Ji-hwan shows an active performance. Representatively, in the match against Baltimore on the 15th, there was a timely hit with two RBIs in the second inning, giving the team a 4-0 victory. But overall, it’s hard to see him as an addition to the team.
Of course, Bae Ji-hwan is still only in his second year in the big leagues, and he still needs to adapt. However, the sluggish performance in May is all the more regrettable because the appearance he showed during the month of April showed hope that he could succeed in the major leagues.