Will Lotte Giants and Hanwha Eagles, the 20th century winners who remain unique to the KBO League, be able to show a different side this year.
The LG Twins won the regular league and the Korean Series last year, ending their championship for the first time in 29 years since 1994. The team topped the regular league with 86 wins, two draws and 56 losses, and succeeded in winning the Korean Series for the third time by beating the second-ranked KT (79 wins, three draws and 62 losses) with four wins and one loss in the Korean Series, which advanced to the Korean Series for the first time in 21 years since 2002.월카지노
LG won the Korean Series, which it had hoped for, leaving only Lotte and Hanwha to win in the 20th century, but not in the 21st century. Lotte has not won the Korean Series for 31 years since 1992, and Hanwha has failed to win the Korean Series for 24 years since it first and last won the Korean Series in 1999.
Lotte ranked seventh in the league last year with 68 wins and 76 losses. Until May 19, Lotte competed for the lead by ranking first in the league, but gradually suffered a decline and eventually finished the season in seventh place. Since ranking third in the league in 2017, it has hovered around the bottom of the league for six years, ranking seventh in 2018, 10th in 2019, 7th in 2020, 8th in 2021, 8th in 2022, and 7th in 2023.
Lotte, whose manager Larry Sutton left the team during the season due to health reasons, has appointed Kim Tae-hyung as its new coach for the 2024 season. Kim Tae-hyung is a great manager who led the Doosan Bears from 2015 to 2022, advancing to the Korean Series for seven consecutive years and winning the Korea City League three times (2015, 2016, 2019). This recruitment demonstrates Lotte’s commitment to challenge the fall baseball league through the renewal of its team. “I told them without fear that in my first year as a coach, I would like to say that my goal is to win the title. This is why I would like to say that it is a championship here as well. I hope players also aim to win the title and prepare themselves. What else do you have to say as a coach? Your first goal is to win the postseason, and your next goal is to win the title. Every season passes, you have more regrets. There may be many ways to overcome such regret, but it is important to feel it with your body. I want to emphasize that to the players,” Kim said, renewing his commitment to win the title.
However, the team experienced significant losses in terms of team performance. Jeon Joon-woo, an international free agent, renewed his contract for up to 4.7 billion won (3.7 million U.S. dollars) for four years, but Ahn Chi-hong, a key second baseman, left the team after signing a contract with the Hanwha Eagles for a total of 7.2 billion won (7.2 million dollars) for 4+2 years. Ahn Chi-hong’s absence in 121 games (124 hits in 425 times at bat) with eight homers and 63 RBIs is certainly regrettable. Lotte took steps to minimize Ahn’s absence by naming Oh Sun-jin and Choi Hang in the second draft.
Last year, Hanwha had 58 wins, six draws and 80 losses to rank ninth in the league. It had to be satisfied with avoiding the disgrace of being the lowest in the league for four consecutive years, let alone advancing to the postseason. After successfully advancing to the postseason for the first time in 11 years by ranking third in the league in 2018, the team failed to rank ninth in 2019, 10th in 2020-2022, and 9th in 2023, failing to rank ninth for five years.
However, this year was also a season when he had hopes despite his poor performance. Recruitment of Chae Eun-sung through a six-year contract worth up to 9 billion won (approx. 9 billion won) as an FA gave him strength, while Noh displayed his full potential by posting 298 homers and 101 RBIs in 131 games (153 hits in 514 times at bat) with 31 homers and an OPS of .929. Moon Dong-ju also won the Rookie of the Year award in 23 games (118 ⅔ innings) with eight wins, eight losses and an ERA of 3.72 and raised expectations for the 2024 season.
Hanwha has strengthened its batting lineup by recruiting a big FA named An Chi-hong following Chae Eun-seong this winter. On top of that, it brought in veteran players who had won the title in the SSG, including Kim Kang-min and Lee Jae-won, to fill its lack of experience in the team. Internal FA Jang Min-jae also re-signed his contract for up to 800 million won (approx. Analysts say that he is the most aggressive in his move in the stove league this time.
Lotte and Hanwha both have clear factors to expect to rebound this year. Fans are excited about whether the two teams, which have not been out of the bottom ranks for a long time, will be able to show a different side in 2024.