Although fall baseball is far away this year, I am not disappointed. As the 2023 professional baseball season draws to a close, the Hanwha Eagles are drawing hope by promising ‘the beauty of the future.’
Hanwha won 9-8 against Kiwoom Heroes on September 10th and swept all four of their away games in Gocheok. It has been 20 years since 2003 that Hanwha swept a four-game series. Including the match against SSG in Daejeon on the 6th, the team’s 6-game winning streak is in ruins. The monthly winning percentage in September is 8 wins and 2 losses, which is currently tied for first place among the 10 teams along with NC Dinos.
With 26 games remaining in the regular season, Hanwha ranks 8th with 50 wins, 6 draws, and 62 losses (.445). The gap with the top five is 10 games, making fall baseball difficult, but getting out of last place for the first time in four years is virtually certain. Hanwha was 3 games behind 9th place Samsung (51 wins, 1 draw, 69 losses) and 7 games behind last place Kiwoom (51 wins, 3 draws, 77 losses). Kiwoom, the lowest ranked team, only has 13 games remaining, and even if they win all of their games, Hanwha would be ahead of Kiwoom in the final winning percentage if they only recorded a .500 win rate (13 wins).바카라
In addition, the gap with Lotte (55 wins, 63 losses), which is experiencing a decline in the second half of the season, is close to 2 games, so Hanwha can aim for up to 7th place. As for Hanwha, its highest ranking and winning percentage are likely since the 2018 season (3rd place, 77 wins, 67 losses, .535), the last time it advanced to fall baseball.
Hanwha’s transformation from being treated like a neighborhood book
Hanwha suffered the humiliation of last place for three consecutive years from the 2020 season to last year. If we expand the scope since 2008, when the dark period began in earnest, the team has advanced to fall baseball only once (2018) in the past 15 seasons, but has ranked last 9 times, earning the stigma of being the ‘worst club in professional baseball history’ due to the prolonged dark period. I also heard.
This season, the team fell to the bottom of the rankings from the beginning and coach Carlos Subero was fired without completing the final year of his contract. If they finish in last place again this year, they will tie the record of being in last place for four consecutive years, the second longest period in KBO league history after the Lotte Giants (2001-2004), and the rare feat of being the first single team to finish in last place in a double-digit season for the first time in history. I could even add a true record.
However, Hanwha launched a counterattack by reorganizing the team under new manager Choi Won-ho. At one point in July, they continued their upward trend of 8 consecutive wins and narrowed the gap with the top 5 to 2 games, reviving hopes for fall baseball. Although the gap widened again in the second half due to lack of support, at least after the summer, Hanwha was no longer a multiplier where opposing teams could guarantee victory.
In the 2022 season, when Hanwha ranked last just a year ago, it was only on par with KT with 8 wins and 8 losses, and was inferior to all eight other teams. Of these, 5 teams had a winning percentage of less than .200 and 12 losses, making them a neighborhood book.
However, this year, except for last place Kiwoom (8 wins, 1 draw, 6 losses), no team was dominant, but no team was lopsided like previous years. In particular, they had 6 wins, 1 draw, and 6 losses against LG, the 1st and 2nd place team in the league, and 5 wins, 1 draw, and 5 losses against KT, so they faced more evenly against the top teams. Hanwha has not yet allowed a double-digit loss to any team, and even to Doosan, which has allowed the most losses, it recorded a winning percentage of .400 with 6 wins and 9 losses (.400).
This further means that Hanwha could become a casting vote for the remaining games of this season. Currently, in professional baseball, with LG continuing its dominance in first place, the battle for second place is fierce with four teams, including KT-NC-KIA-SSG, all within a two-game gap. Hanwha has 5 games remaining against KT, the most, and 4 games against NC (4 wins, 1 draw, 7 losses, inferiority). There are 2 games against SSG (5 wins, 1 draw, 8 losses) and 1 game against KIA (6 wins, 1 draw, 8 losses).
It is also encouraging that the results of the long rebuilding process are slowly coming to fruition. slugger Noh Si-hwan is a strong candidate for MVP this season, and second-year player Dong-ju Moon has emerged as a candidate for Rookie of the Year. Noh Si-hwan is breaking career highs this season by leading the way in home runs (30), RBI (96), and slugging percentage (.563). It is also likely that he will surpass .300 home runs and -100 RBI for the first time in his career. However, there is a strong competitor in foreign pitcher Eric Peddy (NC), and the gap due to participation in the national team at the Hangzhou Asian Games is a variable.
Dong-ju Moon is playing a leading role in Hanwha’s native starting lineup with 8 wins, 8 losses, and an earned run average of 3.72. Dong-ju Moon is currently competing fiercely with Young-cheol Yoon (KIA, 8 wins, 6 losses, 4.19) for the once-in-a-lifetime Rookie of the Year award. It has been 17 years since Hanwha produced MVP and Rookie of the Year at the same time since Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto), who burst onto the scene in 2006 and swept both categories on his own.
In addition, Moon Hyun-bin, who emerged as a new ‘nova’ in Hanwha’s infield in 2004, is showing remarkable growth by taking advantage of Jeong Eun-won’s injury absence. On the mound, the first to third starters were in place, from the foreign one-two punch of Felix Peña and Ricardo Sanchez to Moon Dong-ju. In addition, during the 6-game winning streak, the bullpen lineup of Park Sang-won, Jang Min-jae, Lee Taeyang, Jung Woo-ram, Joo Hyun-seung, and Kim Beom-soo formed a new structure and did a good job blocking the back door. This shows that Hanwha Baseball is recovering its ‘winning mentality’ to the extent that it can now win winnable games.
For other teams, failing to advance to fall baseball usually means a failed season. You may think that 6th to 10th place, which cannot participate in fall baseball, is just a meaningless place. However, for Hanwha, which has endured a long period of hardship, one win and one place in the rankings have a special meaning. For the first time in a very long time since 2018, Hanwha’s ‘Bodhisattva’ fans are gaining a little comfort by watching the future of the team, ‘looking forward to tomorrow more than today’.