Tesuhyung, KIA uniforms likely next year…How to organize overflow outfield traffic?
KIA Tigers outfielder Socrates Brito’s triple stroke will be seen in the 2024 season.
“I know that Socrates will stay next season,” manager Kim Jong-guk said of the foreign player before departing for the final camp in Okinawa. He still needs to sign a contract to be confirmed as a KIA player next year, but barring any changes, he is expected to be in the outfield and center field for the third straight year.
Socrates joined the team in the 2022 season and has been a solid leadoff hitter. In his first season, he played in 111 games, hitting .848 with 17 home runs, 77 RBI, and an OPS of .848. He struggled at the start of the season with his adjustment, 먹튀검증 but his bat came alive in May. He took a sand dune to the face at the peak of the season, but he did enough to earn a new contract.
In 142 games this year, he batted .285 with 20 homers, 95 RBI, 91 runs scored, an OPS of .807, and went 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position. His batting average dropped and he struck out more, but he was strong at the plate. He had the most RBIs on the team, leading a center field that was shorthanded due to injuries to Na Sung-bum and Choi Hyung-woo. He also showed stability in the outfield with a solid performance.
The club also considered signing an outside infielder to bolster the vulnerable first base position. Seven players have played first base this year, but none have earned a starting job. The first basemen have been struggling at the plate, but bringing in a hitter of Socrates’ caliber is a risky proposition with no guarantees. The team decided to re-sign Socrates to give Hwang Dae-in a chance to rebound, Byun Woo-hyuk a chance to grow, and to add another first baseman in free agency.
If Socrates wears the uniform for a third year, the outfield becomes a battleground again. Socrates and Na Sung-beom are two of the mainstays, and there will be plenty of competition for the other spot. For now, Won-Jun Choi, who has the ability to steal 40 steals, and Woo-Sung Lee, who has developed into a mainstay, form a strong competition. The 2023 season will be similar.
Won-Jun Choi, who retired this year, will challenge for the outfield job next year. He was a steady right fielder with a batting average of nearly .300 in his career. He returned to the team on June 13, but played first base instead of the outfield. Due to injuries in his commercial career, he was not prepared for the season and did not perform satisfactorily. Next year, he hopes to return to the main roster after thorough preparation.
The reason why Choi Won-jun was not able to return to the outfield immediately after his discharge was Lee Woo-sung. Lee had a career-high 126 games this year, batting .780 with eight doubles, eight home runs, 58 RBIs, 39 runs scored, and an OPS of .780. He also hit a grand slam and was the most improved hitter of the year, hitting hard at the plate. His defense in the outfield and his ability to run the bases made him a starter.
Add to that Ko Jong-wook, Lee Chang-jin, Kim Ho-ryung, and Park Jung-woo, and the list goes on. This year, the outfield was overflowing, so Kim had to stay in the second team for a long time because of his ability to catch and run. Kim Seok-hwan should also be given a chance. He’ll make the most of the designated hitter spot and give the team flexibility in the outfield. However, if Choi Hyung-woo continues to hit as explosively as he has this year, the options will be fewer. In the end, organizing traffic in the KIA outfield is a big challenge.