– Career high record in batting average and OPS last year
– Condition ups and downs, challenges to relieve defensive anxiety
– I want to play as a third baseman rather than a first baseman
– A battle with myself over the annual salary option contract
Han Dong-hee’s shoulders became heavy. This is because Lee Dae-ho, the ‘4th hitter of Joseon’, retired last year and is attracting attention as a player to fill his void from this season. Lee Dae-ho also pointed out Han Dong-hee as his successor. Han Dong-hee said, “So far, (Lee) Dae-ho’s grades have been very good.”
▮Double digit home runs in 3 consecutive seasons
Han Dong-hee, 24 years old this year, received great expectations and attention from the moment he joined the club to the extent that he wore a Lotte uniform as the first nomination in 2018. Han Dong-hee, who made his professional debut after setting a record of 1.3 OPS (slugging percentage + on-base percentage) in high school, hit 15 home runs with a batting average of 0.438 in the Futures League in his first year as a player. However, in 87 games for the first team, he had a batting average of 0.232 and only four home runs, showing that he did not show off his rookie tee. The following year he performed even worse. Due to injuries and the like, he only had a batting average of 0.203 and two home runs in 59 games.
He finally began to show his face as a giant gun by recording double-digit (17) home runs for the first time in the long-awaited 2020 first team. Having firmly established himself as an irreplaceable player, he ran double-digit home runs for two consecutive years from the 2021 season. In particular, last year, his batting average of 0.307, 14 home runs, 140 hits, and 65 RBIs, OPS of 0.817, took his ‘career high’. However, since he hit 7 home runs in just over a month of opening, the problem of ‘condition ups and downs’ remained as a homework to be solved. Han Dong-hee said, “It seems that his physical condition is similar to this time last year. He has gained a lot of experience last year, so he is confident that he will show even better this year,” he said.
Han Dong-hee’s batting form is characterized by extreme ‘pull’. His characteristic is to leave the hitting point behind and produce long hits with a big swing. However, Han Dong-hee is not satisfied here. He is researching a new hitting method to increase his flight distance. It’s called ‘float watch’. It is a method of swinging with the feeling of pressing the flying ball with a bat, and sending the ball up and away. Han Dong-hee said, “I am trying to hit more accurately. Since it is more important than anything else to lose timing to the pitcher, I try to make up for that point,” he said. But that doesn’t mean I feel insecure about my current playing style. I always go to the plate with confidence,” he said.
▮Complementing defensive power is homework… “Third baseman challenge”
In order for Han Dong-hee to surpass Lee Dae-ho, he must first solve the problem of ‘defensive anxiety’. During his active career, Lee Dae-ho showed a good appearance not only in batting but also in defense. He mainly played the game as a first and third baseman, and showed his defensive ability to catch bad throws without taking his foot off the base using his large physique. As he was a pitcher, his accurate and fast throwing using his strong shoulder was also his masterpiece.
On the other hand, many point out that Han Dong-hee’s defense is unstable compared to hitting. His defensive power over the past five years is 0.924 in the 2022 season, 0.953 in the 2021 season, 0.943 in the 2020 season, and 0.914 in 2019. Lee Dae-ho’s defense was between 0.98 and 0.99. Because of this, some voices say that the defensive position should be changed to first baseman, who has become a runless public with Lee Dae-ho’s retirement. Han Dong-hee has been playing as a third baseman ever since his professional debut. He usually has less defensive pressure at first base than at third base.
Han Dong-hee said, “No matter what position he goes to, he must do his best as a professional and for the team. That’s why he doesn’t feel any pressure no matter what assignment he takes on. However, he has been playing third base all the time, so I want to continue to challenge him in his original position to improve his defensive skills,” he said.
This year, Han Dong-hee also fights with himself. Lotte introduced an ‘option contract’ for the first time in salary negotiations this year, and Han Dong-hee signed an ‘adventure’ here. Han Dong-hee will receive an annual salary of up to 266.8 million won if he achieves the option (OPS figure) presented by Lotte. If he fails, he only earns 192.6 million won, up 12% from last year.
Han Dong-hee said,메이저놀이터 “This season, I set the goal of hitting more home runs than any other year. It’s not only my career, but it’s also a way to help the team. He focuses on a number of things, such as training his body rotation and timing when swinging the bat.”
He continued, “Since the off-season, Lotte fans have given us great expectations, saying, ‘I will do well this year. However, I felt bad because I couldn’t show good results, and it seems like I only bring disappointment every year.” “This year, I will do my best to make that expectation a reality. We ask for your support.”