Before the season, many experts mentioned the catcher problem of the KIA Tigers.
KIA lost main catcher Park Dong-won, who was an internal free agent, but did not reinforce the main catcher. Through a trade with Kiwoom, catcher Joo Hyo-sang was brought in, but Joo Hyo-sang has not played more than 100 games in a season since his professional debut. Even after the 2020 season, he enlisted in the military on active duty and was unable to play for the first team for two years until last year. The sense of the game has also fallen, and it was a recruiting of a backup catcher resource rather than a main catcher.
Then, among the remaining catchers, Han Seung-taek is the only 안전놀이터catcher who can become the starting pitcher. So this season, KIA is packing a home with Han Seung-taek and Joo Hyo-sang.
However, a question mark is attached to the attack power of the two players. Han Seung-taek has never exceeded a batting average of 0.250 and his OPS has never exceeded 0.750. However, he is not a hitter with double-digit home runs because of his power. The same goes for Joo Hyo-sang. He is a player with a career batting average of 0.201 and only two career home runs.
So KIA talked a lot about the catcher trade with Samsung before the season, but failed and failed to reinforce the catcher. As a result, he became the only club among 10 club catchers to not record a hit after the season opener. Han Seung-taek has no hits in 7 at-bats, and Joo Hyo-sang has no hits in 5 at-bats.
If the catcher had shown better batting in the bottom line, he could have produced more runs and the KIA’s multiplier would have gone up. Currently, KIA has many players who left due to injuries, such as Na Seong-beom, Kim Sun-bin, and Kim Do-young. That’s why every single hit on the bottom line is disappointing.
This is the reason why the vacancy of Park Dong-won, who was the main catcher at the beginning of the season, is greatly felt. Last season, KIA held infielder Kim Tae-jin and 1 billion won in cash, handing over the 2023 rookie draft second round nomination right to Kiwoom to recruit Park Dong-won. KIA was the team that was eager to recruit a catcher even at the risk of bleeding.
And Park Dong-won played 112 games for KIA, recording 86 hits in 352 at-bats, a batting average of 0.244, 17 home runs, and 53 RBIs with an OPS of 0.773, contributing greatly to KIA’s advancement to fall baseball. However, after the season, KIA could not catch Park Dong-won, who obtained FA qualification. The story that former general manager Jang Jeong-seok demanded back money from the players was known, and there is speculation that Park Dong-won did not remain at the KIA due to this problem.
If KIA cannot solve the catcher problem as it is now, it is like giving the opponent a resting line. How to solve the catcher problem, which is a hole in the KIA lineup, will be an important variable in determining the win or loss of KIA baseball this season.