December 3, 2022

Baseball isn’t performed on paper, however it’s tough to not be impressed by the beginning rotation that the SSG Landers have put collectively for the upcoming Korea Baseball Group (KBO) season.

By reuniting with their former franchise star Kim Kwang-hyun, who’s returning after two seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Landers have put three former main league starters on their workers.

Kim, who signed a four-year deal price a file 15.1 billion gained (US$12.3 million), was the face of the Landers franchise from 2007 to 2019 once they had been referred to as the SK Wyverns underneath a special possession. The 2008 KBO common season MVP gained 4 Korean Collection championships with the Wyverns, and persistently ranked among the many league leaders in wins, ERA and strikeouts throughout his first tour of responsibility right here.

With the Cardinals, Kim went 10-7 with a 2.97 ERA in 35 appearances, together with 28 begins. The left-hander was an ideal 3-0 with a 1.62 ERA in eight video games in the course of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He bounced between the rotation and the bullpen in 2021 however nonetheless pitched to an efficient 3.46 ERA over 106 2/3 innings.

On the Landers, Kim will be part of two ex-big league right-handers in Wilmer Font and Ivan Nova.

The Landers re-signed Font to a brand new one-year deal, price $1.5 million, in December. In 2021, the Venezuelan went 8-5 with a 3.46 ERA in 25 begins, whereas putting out 157 in 145 2/3 innings. He ranked second within the KBO with 9.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, behind solely Ariel Miranda of the Doosan Bears (11.66 Ks per 9 innings).

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Nova signed a one-year, $1 million contract in December, and the Dominican right-hander brings essentially the most spectacular huge league resume of the trio. He gained 90 video games over 11 years within the majors, together with a career-best 16 video games for the New York Yankees in 2011 en path to ending fourth within the American League (AL) Rookie of the 12 months voting.

The three pitchers will probably be backed by two stable homegrown starters in the midst of the brand new season.

Park Jong-hun and Moon Seung-won each underwent elbow operations in June final 12 months and are eyeing a return to the mound in June this 12 months. However the Landers had a lot religion of their future performances that they handed each of them five-year extensions in December — with Park signing for six.5 billion gained and Moon getting 5.5 billion gained. They turned the primary KBO gamers to signal multiyear contracts earlier than hitting free company.

Park, a right-handed submarine pitcher, has a 66-62 file with a 4.55 ERA in 201 appearances. He had been one of many workforce’s steadiest starters earlier than hitting the cabinets final 12 months. Park, who generated some main league curiosity along with his excessive underhand supply, was 4-2 with a 2.82 ERA in 9 begins in 2021 previous to his surgical procedure.

Moon, one other righty, has gone 37-43 with a 4.51 ERA in 158 video games. He carried a 2.86 ERA in 9 begins this 12 months earlier than present process operation.

The Landers have one other former main leaguer of their lineup, within the type of former AL All-Star, Choo Shin-soo. He will probably be again for his second season with the membership.

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At age 39 final 12 months, Choo turned the oldest KBO participant to file a 20-20 season, with 21 dwelling runs and 25 steals. The veritable on-base machine ranked third within the league with 103 walks and sixth with a .409 on-base share.

Choo had an offseason elbow surgical procedure that can restrict him to designated hitter duties for the early a part of the season. However he proved in 2021 that he can nonetheless do harm along with his bat and his velocity. And it’s maybe higher for the Landers to not have Choo play within the outfield at this stage in his profession.

Choi Jeong, a veteran third baseman and one other franchise icon alongside Kim Kwang-hyun, will resume his assault on the file books in 2022. After launching 35 dwelling runs final 12 months — his fifth 30-plus homer marketing campaign since 2016 — Choi is now sitting at 403 dwelling runs for his profession.

Choi is 64 dwelling runs behind the all-time chief, former Samsung Lions star Lee Seung-yuop. Choi can also be the one lively participant with greater than 400 profession dwelling runs. With no indicators of slowing down at age 35, it appears solely a matter of time earlier than Choi surpasses Lee’s mark.

The Landers missed out on the 2021 postseason by a half sport. However with some huge names within the fold for 2022, they’ll dream huge — sufficiently big that merely making the playoffs will probably be thought-about a disappointment.