KIA Tigers outfielder Koh Jong-wook aims for a batting average of 30% for the first time in 4 years. Unlike last year, Ko Jong-wook, who confidently competes as a starting outfielder rather than a backup, is in a whirlwind mood in the KIA outfield game this season.
Koh Jong-wook played in 41 games this season and recorded a batting average of 0.319 / 37 hits / 1 home run / 7 RBIs / on-base percentage of 0.336 / slugging percentage of 0.414. Although it is not enough for the regulation at-bat, conditions have been created to challenge the 30% batting average for the season after the 2019 season (0.323) when he was a member of SK Wyverns.
Ko Jong-wook, who mainly played the role of a pinch hitter at the beginning of the season, has been gradually increasing his starting role since mid-April. KIA coach Kim Jong-guk said, “Ko Jong-wook’s strength is his ability to hit and run fast. He is so good at what is expected from hitting. There came a time when he could be physically tough, but he was in a situation where he was able to do his part,” he praised.
Go Jong-wook, however, showed an expression of dissatisfaction with his batting average. Ko Jong-wook’s cool-headed gaze is that the RBIs (7 RBIs) and scoring average (0.281/9 hits in 32 at-bats) are somewhat disappointing.
Koh Jong-wook, who recently met with MK Sports, said, “Personally, it may be greedy, but the overall batting index does not meet my expectations. Since he now starts as a defender rather than a pinch hitter, it is not easy to manage his stamina. Still, as comfortable as he is, he can hit more aggressively and improve his batting condition. He would be happy if he increased his RBI and scoring position batting average,” he smiled.
In the case of Koh Jong-wook, when the batting condition is good, the line drive batted ball that flies in the direction of the pitcher is well produced. Ko Jong-wook is also trying to make a ball that he is satisfied with with an aggressive swing from the first pitch.
Koh Jong-wook said, “In fact, the pitcher’s line drive hit didn’t come out as well as expected at the beginning of this season. He needs to work harder to reduce strikeouts and increase his in-play batting average. Still, he emphasized, “I will not hesitate to hit the pitcher’s misspelling, and I will continue to hit aggressively from the first pitch in my style.”
Every year, Ko Jong-wook’s Achilles tendon was evaluated as an unstable outfield defense. However, at the beginning of this season, Ko Jong-wook showed quite stable defense despite frequent outfield defense starts.
Manager Kim Jong-guk said, “Actually, Jong-wook Ko is an outfielder who catches everything because his posture is unstable (laughs). Aren’t you expecting a wide range of defense from Ko Jong-wook? He puts more expectations on hitting than on defense and sends him to the game.”
Ko Jong-wook also said, “Honestly, I don’t think I’m good at defense, but I don’t think I’m bad at all. There are a few scenes that have a big impact, so I think the perception is like that. This season, as the proportion of outfield defense has increased, my batting judgment and attitude have certainly become more comfortable than before. He thinks he’s an average outfielder, if not a good defensive outfielder. I want him to look at me like that even outside,” he said, raising his voice.
The competition within the KIA outfield is very tight. With Ko Jong-wook, Lee Chang-jin, Lee Woo-seong, Kim Ho-ryeong, Kim Seok-hwan, and Choi Hyung-woo all lined up as outfielders, it is difficult to pick out the players to leave out if Choi Won-joon, who is soon to be discharged from Sangmu Baseball Team, and Na Seong-beom, who is recovering from a calf injury, return.
Ko Jong-wook said, “Our team’s outfielders are all really good. If you can’t do it in the first team, you have no choice but to be pushed back. I will not care about such competition and focus only on the strengths I can show. Eventually, there comes a time when everyone loses their stamina or feels bad at hitting. If I do my best and keep my pace, I think the competition is worth fighting for. If we compete in good faith with each other, synergy will surely come out,” he nodded.스포츠토토
Lastly, Ko Jong-wook said, “I adapted a lot to KIA and Gwangju during last year’s season. I felt again that his teammates are really nice and the passion of the KIA fans is great. He fouls sometimes, and when he looks up at the stands with KIA fans, he has admiration. For those fans, I want to start fall baseball at a higher place than last year. Personally, I will help the team win by posting final strokes and RBIs under more starting opportunities.”