It’s Been 18 Years Since Choi Hyungwoo Rejuvenated

Choi Hyung-woo (41, Kia) is having a dreadful May.

Choi has a batting average of 0.463 in 12 games as of May 16. He has 19 hits in 41 times at bat, the second-largest monthly batting average among all hitters in the league. He ranks first in May in terms of on-base percentage and slugging percentage at 0.805. He is also naturally the overwhelming No. 1 in OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) at 1.326. It was his eighth homerun he hit against Doosan on May 15, and he has three homers in May. He added 12 RBIs and nine runs.

Immediately after the opening of this season, Choi hit two home runs in three games, and started off strong enough to say, “This is the first time I’ve experienced this.” After that, he slowed down for a while, but recovered his hitting sense from late April before reaching the peak in May.

Na Sung-bum, who had been injured before the opening game, returned, but Kia is still using Choi as the fourth batter. It is because of his value as a troubleshooter. “When there is a runner, Choi has excellent RBI ability. Even when he hits a ground ball, he makes an RBI single,” KIA manager Lee Bum-ho said.

Choi has 39 RBIs for this season. He has the largest number of RBIs in Kia’s team, and ranks third in the league. His 40s batters are competing with younger players such as Kang Baek-ho (44, KT), Yang Eui-ji (41), Han Yu-seom (36), and Kang Seung-ho (36, Doosan).

Choi Hyung-woo is far from the controversy over the “aging curve” that often comes out even if a player after his mid-30s is a little sluggish. After hitting .300 for eight consecutive years, he seemed to break for a while as his batting average fell to 0.233 in 2021, but he woke up again, and on the contrary, he hit 17 home runs and 81 RBIs with a batting average of .302 and an on-base percentage of 0.400 again last year when he turned 40.

Choi Hyung-woo has not stopped this year, when he signed a one-plus-one-year contract and signed the “oldest multi-year contract ever.” Since he has never been old in his performance, he is simply playing consistently to the extent that the word “rejuvenation” is wrong.

Choi, who holds new KBO league records such as the most RBIs and most doubles, is set to set another milestone. If he adds two more homers, he will have 10 or more homers in 17 consecutive seasons.

After being released from the military, Choi joined Samsung again after serving in the police baseball team, and hit double-digit home runs every year from 2008 (19 home runs) when he became the Rookie of the Year award. Choi Jeong is the only batter who has hit double-digit home runs for 17 consecutive years. Choi Jeong hit more than 10 home runs for 19 consecutive years from 2006 to this year.

Choi Hyung-woo not only hit a chase home run in the match against Samsung in Daegu on the 8th, which he won after a close game going to the 12th inning, but also made two infield hits by running with all his might on a deep ground ball, and in the match against Doosan on the 16th, he also leads KIA with his passion to run at second base in a timely manner and score a run. The biggest force that drives KIA now is the fighting spirit of the oldest player who plays as a designated hitter but does not hesitate to defend the outfield depending on the team’s situation.

Choi has a batting average of 0.308 for this season as of Tuesday. His on-base percentage (0.382) and slugging percentage (0.545) are both the best in four years since 2020 (0.433 on-base percentage and 0.590 on-base percentage).

BY: 스포츠토토

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