Is the Kia Tigers’ tragedy this season simply due to injuries to Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, and Park Chan-ho?
Kia is on the brink. After losing to the Doosan Bears in Jamsil on the 13th, they’re one game out of the top five. With Doosan four games in hand, 토토사이트 KIA’s chances of making the postseason are virtually gone. Now it’s time to calmly review the 2023 season in preparation for the 2024 season.
A quick look at the 13 games shows the absence of Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, Park Chan-ho, and Choi Won-joon, who are out for the season due to injury, while Kim Sun-bin, Lee Woo-sung, Lee Chang-jin, and Ko Jong-wook have been batting in the center field. However, facing a KIA lineup that was missing half of its starters, the pitchers felt a little less pressure.
Ultimately, it’s the lack of starting pitching that has prevented KIA from rising above the middle of the pack. This year, KIA has a team batting average of .275 and a team OPS of .735, both of which rank second. If they don’t make the postseason, it’s not because their offense can’t hit.
The team ERA is 4.17, which is sixth in the league. This is similar to the league average of 4.15. The bullpen ranks third in the league with a 3.86 ERA, according to Baseball-Reference’s Statcast. The discovery of Lim Ki-young and Choi Ji-min and the resurgence of Jeon Sang-hyun have been the biggest achievements. They and lefty submarine Kim Dae-yu have come alive in the second half, and one-point man Lee Jun-young has been solid. Closer Jung Hae-young was shaky but still managed to get 22 saves. It’s hard to find a team with a better setup.
The starters, on the other hand, have a 4.40 ERA, which is 8th in the league. Worse, the starters are only 6th in innings pitched with 726. Their 45 quality starts rank ninth in the league. Because of this problem, the bullpen has also struggled with energy since midseason. There were quite a few games where the bats did enough to get the job done, but the starters fell apart.
In the end, there was no clear ace. Yang Hyun-jong had a great last half of the season, but struggled in the middle of the year. Shawn Anderson and Adonis Medina proved to be busts in July. Returnees Thomas Pannoni and Mario Sanchez also struggled as time went on. Sanchez was sidelined with an arm injury. The power of the one-two punch was diminished.
In recent years, KIA’s strongest foreign pitchers have been Hector Noesi and Aaron Brooks. Hector amassed 46 wins from 2016 to 2018, including 20 wins and 201.2 innings pitched in 2017 to help the team win the Korean Series. Brooks left the organization in disgrace, but his relief appearances were notable. In 2020 and 2021, he combined for 14 wins and a 2.79 ERA.
It goes without saying, but if Kia wants to have the kind of success they want next year, they’re going to have to go all in on foreign pitching. The most important thing is to build a strong 1-3 starters, preferably with relief pitching. That way, Yang Hyun-jong, Lee Yi-ri, and Yoon Young-chul can take some of the pressure off.