No Jihwan Oh dominating this year? There are two Golden Glove contenders at shortstop.

Since 2018, the KBO’s Golden Glove has belonged to Kim Ha-seong (29, San Diego). Kim won the Golden Glove for shortstop for three consecutive years from 2018 to 2020, making him the best shortstop in the game. He left the KBO before the 2021 season, signing a four-year contract with San Diego. The question of who would take his place was of great interest to many fans.

Kim’s junior, Kim Hye-sung, won the Golden Glove in 2021, and it looked like the Kiwoom shortstop Golden Glove lineage of Kang Jeong-ho-Kim Hae-sung-Kim Hye-sung was being established, but when Kim Hye-sung moved to second base, the search was on again. It was Oh Ji-hwan (34‧LG) who stepped up to the plate. After a long period of maturation, Oh is now arguably the best shortstop in the KBO. His basic defense is one of the best in the league. He has the added bonus of being a shortstop who can hit the long ball.

Oh won his first Golden Glove in 2022 after hitting .269 with 25 home runs and 87 RBIs in 142 games. He followed that up with his second consecutive Golden Glove last year, batting .268 with eight home runs and 62 RBIs in 126 games. This year, he’s one of the favorites to win the Golden Glove at shortstop again. This is because he”s now a complete shortstop with fewer ups and downs. However, he”ll have a tough time leading the pack, as he”ll have some competition.

Park Chan-ho (29, KIA), who finished second to Oh in last year’s Golden Glove voting, is a prime example. Like Oh, Chan-ho took a long time to mature his game. While his energetic defense and league-leading baserunning skills were recognized early on, he had his ups and downs and struggled to find his stride on offense. But he broke out in 2022, hitting .272 in 130 games, and last year he became a legitimate three-hit shortstop, hitting .301 with 52 RBIs, 30 doubles, and 73 runs scored in 130 games.

He didn’t win the award over Oh, but being a third baseman is worth a pretty big premium. Add to that the fact that he had a strong showing in last year’s voting, and it’s a positive. Unlike last year, Chan Ho Park has been hitting since the beginning of the season. In his first six games of the season, he is batting .375 with a .423 on-base percentage. He hasn’t been a big hitter, but this year, he’s been hitting for power. His .458 on-base percentage is the highest of his career, even though it’s still early in the season.

Kia manager Lee Bum-ho has envisioned and implemented a batting order that puts the hard-hitting Park Chan-ho in the leadoff spot. He is a shortstop, which is physically demanding, but the calculation is that when he gets on base, he can use his quick feet to score a lot of runs. Position makes the man. Park Chan-ho has also been focusing on getting on base since he moved to the leadoff spot. As a result, he has a good on-base percentage in the early part of the season. Lee praised him for thinking about how he can contribute to the team as a leadoff hitter.

Park Chan-ho is not the only one. Park Sung-ho (26‧SSG) is also gaining momentum. Park showed his ability to hit .302 in 2021 and .298 in 2022, demonstrating his ability to hit triples as a shortstop. However, Kim Hye-sung and Oh Ji-hwan’s offensive stats were so spectacular that they were overlooked in Gold Glove voting. Part of the problem is that the Golden Glove 토토 voting is a one-person, one-vote system rather than a point system, but it has been pointed out that they are undervalued for their skills. Last year, he didn’t have a season he was happy with, as his batting average dropped to .266.

However, he is playing well early in the year. While Chan Ho Park has the advantage in batting average, Sung Park has the advantage in slugging percentage. In his first eight games of the season, Park has a mediocre .276 batting average, but he’s drawn 10 walks, giving him a .462 slugging percentage. In terms of slugging percentage, he is actually higher than Park Chan-ho. SSG’s power analysis team analyzed that Park was the one who lost the most in strike-ball decisions last year, but since the introduction of the ABS system, Park, who has a clear zone and a good eye for the ball, has improved his batting average as expected. Park’s strikeout rate has been over 10% every year for the last three years, and it’s up to 25.6% this year. He’s not going down easy.

In defense, another area of consideration, he’s following in the footsteps of Park Chan-ho. He has more room for improvement in defense than Park, who already has a more complete defense. He is a relatively large shortstop, so there are some who say that he has already developed into a player comparable to both of them in the 3-man defense. His defense is so good that if he can find some stability, he could become a complete shortstop.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the race will go according to their wishes. Oh Ji-hwan is more powerful than expected. It’s clear that he has more power than either of them, and his flowing defense is one of the best in the league. This season will be interesting to see if Oh will fend off the challenge, if it will be a three-way race, or if other players will step up and make the race more interesting.


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