Park Chan-ho (28) of the KIA Tigers makes a fierce dash for third base. Park Chan-ho played second base in Gwangju’s game against the Kiwoom Heroes on April 16, going 4-for-4 with one walk. He also drove in three runs and scored twice. He was a key part of the team’s 13-3 victory.
In the first inning, he drew a bases-loaded walk and scored the game’s first run. In the second inning, with the bases loaded and a 3-0 lead, he hit a two-run double to left field. The fourth inning brought more luck. In the bottom of the first inning, he flicked a pitch from Park Seung-joo that was just a simple fly ball to right field, but Kiwoom right fielder Kim Jun-wan lost sight of it, leading to a lucky triple. The opposing third baseman, who failed to catch Na Sung-bum’s throw, allowed him to cross the plate.
With two outs in the fifth inning, he hit an RBI single up the middle to drive in the eighth run of the game. In his final at-bat in the seventh inning, he had runners on second and third with a chance for a cycling hit. It wasn’t going to be easy, as he was short of a home run. I swung hard at a 2-2 pitch, but it went out to left field. Even though it was a run-scoring hit, he expressed his disappointment.
“In my recent games, I’ve been able to turn my misses into hits, which boosted my confidence, so it was good to be aggressive at the plate today,” Park explained. “It’s not often that you get a chance to record a cycling hit, so of course I was conscious of it. Even though I didn’t get the record, I’m happy with the team’s win.”
It was his second four-hit game of the season. Both came in August. His batting average soared to 2-for-9. He drove in 35 runs and scored 49 runs. He also went 3-for-1 with runners in scoring position. With all the extra-base hits and walks, his OPS rose to .720. The hard work that he had been chastising himself for not having a league average OPS is paying off.
Park’s offensive numbers are the best among shortstops in all 10 organizations. After going just 2-for-7 in the first half of the year, he’s gone 3-for-9 in the second half. In August, he’s been hitting like a leadoff hitter at 4-for-4. At this rate, he’s on pace to become the first shortstop to hit .300.
There are still 49 games left in the season and the hitting cycle can be volatile, so there are no guarantees. What’s clear is that he’s expecting and building toward another career-high season, one that will surpass last year’s numbers. Going from the worst batting average in baseball in 2020 (.223) to a triple-digit shortstop in three years is a long way to go.
He’s also paying attention to his defense. The team has been giving up a lot of runs lately. “In our recent games, we’ve been making mistakes on defense and it hasn’t worked out well, but before today’s game, I talked to the players about playing with confidence and not being too conscious of our mistakes, so we had a lot of good defense in the infield and outfield, and I think that gave us the momentum to win,” he laughed. 먹튀검증
Finally, he focused on the team’s victory rather than individual goals. “I don’t have any personal goals. I’m just trying to maintain my good form until the end of the season and focus on helping the team win every game. If we do that, the team ranking will improve.