“Lee Jung-hoo hasn’t shown anything in ML yet…” Why did SF master Kim Ha-sung already guarantee his starting position

Even before his debut game in the Major League, San Francisco Giants manager Bob Melvin (62) has already picked Lee Jung-hoo as the starting pitcher. Bob Melvin, who served with Kim Ha-sung (28) until last season, has won the Coach of the Year award three times (2007, 2012, 2018), and is a master of the league with 1,517 wins (1425 losses). Attention is now drawn to how he will coach Lee.

NBC Sports Bay Area, a U.S. media outlet, reported on the 22nd (Korea Standard Time) that “It’s becoming clearer and clearer what role Lee Jung-hoo will play in San Francisco next season.”

According to reports, Lee Jung-hoo is expected to take the heavy role of San Francisco’s leadoff and center fielder next season. “I’m planning to have Lee Jung-hoo as the team’s leadoff,” Melvin said in person during his recent appearance on the podcast “The TK Show.”

Generally, the team has the highest on-base percentage, and the fastest hitter is assigned as the first hitter. Lee has already proven this ability in the KBO league. To Lee, the first hitter is no stranger. During his seven seasons in the KBO league, Lee has played a total of 1,468 at-bats for the first hitter, the second highest number after 2017, when he played the third hitter.

In the first batting order, Lee posted a batting average of 0.328, 11 homers, 139 RBIs and an OPS of 0.832. In the 2023 season, he recorded a batting average of 0.286, eight RBIs and an OPS of 0.740 while playing 95 times at bat in the first batting order. After playing as a leadoff for three seasons from the 2017 season, he was mostly assigned to the clean-up trio as the third batter from the 2020 season. Lee has not even made his Major League debut yet. He has not shown anything of course. Nevertheless, Melvin was able to trust Lee’s capability that he has already shown in the KBO league.

“As of right now, I don’t see why not,” Melvin said of Lee’s deployment to the leadoff, before adding, “We have written down some lineup after recruiting Lee. All of them were lineup in which Lee will play as the first hitter. That is the way to make Lee comfortable. Lee also played that role before then. Currently, I have a clear plan to do so.”

In the 2023 season, LaMonte Wade Jr. played the first hitter in 97 of 162 games for the San Francisco Giants. Wade posted a batting average of 0.256 with 17 homers, 45 RBIs and two steals, and an on-base percentage of 0.373 OPS of 0.790 in 135 games this year. And in the 2024 season, Lee Jung-hoo will bring Wade’s leadoff card. 에볼루션 바카라사이트

Like Lee Jung-hoo, Melvin will join the San Francisco Giants in his first season as a manager next year. After joining the Detroit Tigers in 1985, Melvin played for the San Francisco Giants from 1986 to 1988. Afterwards, he played for the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees, and then the Chicago White Sox. After taking the helm of the Seattle Mariners in November 2002, he served as Arizona Diamondbacks coach, New York Mets scout team coach, Oakland Athletics manager, and assumed the helm of the San Diego Padres for two years starting in the 2022 season. Hence, he became more familiar to Korean fans. Kim Ha-sung mainly served as backup infield in 2021, the first year he entered the big league, but he established himself as a key player when Melvin was newly appointed. Most of all, he played an all-out role in the infield in the 2023 season and became the first Asian infielder to win the Gold Glove (utility category). It can be said that Melvin, who trusted and appointed him, was also a major contributor.

Lee Jung-hoo was joined by San Francisco Giants President Farhan Zaidi at the time. Melvin did not attend the press conference, but he reportedly had a personal reason. “I had a video call with Lee right before the press conference. As I have been in the Bay Area for the past month, I was very disappointed that I could not attend Lee’s press conference,” Melvin said. “Lee was a unique player. He also expressed great joy to become a member of the San Francisco Giants. Those things really resonated with me,” he said. “Ton of personality, love being a Giant and that really resonated with my team members.” He welcomed his new family, saying, “This is a place he wanted to play with, a team he wanted to be with.”

“Lee Jung-hoo looks good in black and orange,” Melvin said. “I’m really excited to have Lee Jung-hoo play for our team.” “We talked about him early in the offseason and he said, “We’re really wanted to start this offseason because we were able to fill in a lot of parts of our team.”

At Lee’s official joining ceremony, Zaidi also announced its plan to deploy Lee as center fielder. San Francisco has virtually no outfielder that can be said to have secured its starting position. Luis Matos, 21, from Venezuela played 76 games last season, the most as a center fielder. However, he only posted a batting average of 0.250 (57 hits in 253 times at bat), two homers, 13 doubles, one triple, 20 walks and 33 strikeouts with 14 RBIs, 24 runs scored and three steals, with an on-base percentage of 0.319 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.661. Other outfielders Bryce Johnson and Austin Slater also played center fielder, but they failed to secure their position. And with the coach’s solid confidence, Lee will take Luis Matos’ position.

On top of that, the size of Lee’s contract itself means that his starting lineup is already guaranteed, even if he is a rookie who has not shown much in the big leagues. In the big leagues, players who earn a lot of money occupy the team’s starting lineup. Unless there are special reasons such as major injuries, high-paying superstars are guaranteed starting positions even if their slump continues. In this regard, Lee is seen as a very advantageous candidate in the starting lineup. He is the highest paid player in the San Francisco Giants. San Francisco officially announced that it has agreed with Lee to a six-year, $113 million (W148.4 billion) deal that will include opt-outs at the end of the 2027 season. This is the highest amount of treatment for an Asian fielder who has ever made it to the Major League through a posting system. And four years later, at the end of the 2027 season, he can move to another club through opt-outs. This is a very advantageous clause in that if Lee performs very well in San Francisco, he will be treated better and can move to another team.

Zaidi, the president of the San Francisco Giants, has great faith. “Our club has long watched Lee grow up to be the best player in the KBO league and receive many awards. I think Lee is the perfect player for our club. As we talked about this offseason, we needed players with good contact skills to strengthen our team’s offense. Contact-oriented baseball is also a recent trend in the Major League. To be honest, when we saw candidates that Lee could recruit during this offseason, there was no player who met the criteria that we wanted the most,” he said in displaying infinite trust. MLB.com said, “With Lee’s addition, San Francisco’s outfielders, including Mike Yastremski, Mitch Haniger, and Michael Confoto, will be enriched.”

Of course, there will be some difficulties. Local fans are paying attention to Lee’s ability to adapt himself to fastballs. MLBcom said, “Lee has never recorded a batting average of less than 0.318 except in the 2023 season when he could not complete the season due to injury.” “The only tool that Lee has missing is power,” he said. “Lee Jung-hoo is an ‘above-averaged defensive center fielder.’ However, the biggest question mark is whether Lee will cope with fastballs. Most KBO league pitchers cannot throw fastballs with speeds of 95 mph (152.8 km). That is why Lee made special efforts to prepare for the 2023 season.” Ryan Sadowski, who once played for the Lotte Giants and worked as a foreign scout, also said, “Lee needs to prove his capability to respond faster than the KBO league.”

For now, Lee Jung-hoo will likely face the opening game without changing his batting form. When asked about changing his batting form in the field of his return, Lee said, “I once changed my batting form because I wanted to do better for a longer time. I wanted to change when I did my best, but I think the U.S. gave me a high evaluation of that. I don’t plan on changing my batting form right away. Next year, I will try to change it as it is. I will try it first and make changes accordingly. I think I can do it faster in adjusting to it because I am still young.” Lee said, “I think I can do it faster because I am still young.” Lee has a batting average of 0.349, 23 home runs, 113 RBIs, 85 runs, 36 doubles, 10 triples, five steals, 32 strikeouts, 66 walks, a slugging percentage, 0.575 on-base plus slugging percentage, on-base percentage, 0.421, and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) 0.996. In particular, Zaidi paid attention to 23 home runs and 32 strikeouts, and said, “It is very impressive that the number of home runs and strikeouts in any league is similar. I think not only the record that our team’s scouts wanted, but also the batting plan is very good. Lee said, “When an opposing pitcher throws a pitch, he recognizes the pitch really fast. We are confident that he can display such skills,” expressing high expectations. Expectations are already high on how Lee will perform in the Major League next season.

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