The long-awaited debut of ‘Beast’ Choi Ji-hoon (25, SSG) with the Taegeuk mark has become a reality.
KBO announced on the 6th that “SSG outfielder Choi Ji-hoon will join the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Korean national team.”
Choi Ji-hoon was named in the final entry as a substitute player when Choi Ji-man (Pittsburgh Pirates) was unable to participate in the WBC due to opposition from his team.
Although he was selected as a 메이저놀이터 substitute player, Choi Ji-hoon’s joining was a natural choice with almost no disagreement. In fact, in the 2022 season, Choi Ji-hoon recorded a batting average of 0.304 / 173 hits / 93 runs scored / 61 RBI / 31 stolen bases / on-base percentage 0.361 / slugging percentage 0.427 / OPS 0.788 in 144 games, ranking 13th in the league in batting average, 5th in most hits, 3rd in runs scored, and 3rd in stolen bases. He climbed to the top and did an excellent job on offense and running.
His defense was also overwhelming. Choi Ji-hoon’s defense win contribution against average (WAAwithADJ) was 1.909 (based on stats), ranking first among all fielders in the league. Along with Park Hae-min (LG, 1.858), who placed second in the division, he showed off his defensive power by overwhelmingly beating players below the third place.
Thanks to his overwhelming performance in the offensive line, Choi Ji-hoon ranked 4th in the league (7.77) in win contribution (WAR) compared to substitutes for pitchers and fielders. Among the beasts, it was 3rd in the league following Kiwoom Lee Jung-hoo (10.25) in 1st place and Samsung Jose Pirella (7.77) in 2nd place.
It was the result of the previous entry selection, which was regrettable that a beast with such excellent results was not selected in the first place. Naturally, attention is also focused on the play Choi Ji-hoon, who was one of the most dynamic players and the best defender of the 2022 season along with Park Hae-min (LG), will show.
How did Choi Ji-hoon feel? Through the club, Choi Ji-hoon said, “I didn’t expect it at all, but it feels good to be selected so suddenly, and I still don’t feel it.” I will come to the national team with this,” he said, revealing his strong determination.
It also reminded me of Choi Jeong-ui, a senior from SSG who was selected for the national team together. Choi Ji-hoon said, “In fact, from the time I was selected on the 50-person interest list last year, Choi Jung-sunbaenim said, ‘You can go, I wish I could go with you. He continued to tell me, “If we go together and have a good experience, then baseball will improve a lot.” I may not be able to go to the starting lineup, but I will do my best to achieve good results in my role.”
With the addition of Choi Ji-hoon, the national team’s outfield consisted of five best outfielders in the KBO League: Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), Kim Hyun-soo-Park Hae-min (LG), Na Seong-beom (KIA), and Park Gun-woo (NC). While Lee Jeong-hoo, Kim Hyeon-soo, and Na Seong-beom are likely to play a central role in the national team’s batting line, Choi Ji-hoon, who has outstanding main power and defense, good batting ability, and baseball sense, is expected to be able to contribute to the national team in various fields.
Upon hearing the news, Choi Ji-hoon said, “First, I contacted his parents. I am grateful to my parents. In addition, coach Kim Won-hyeong gave me opportunities to participate, so I was able to achieve good results last year. I would like to say thank you to the coach and to all the coaches on the team for teaching me a lot since I was a rookie.”
I plan to pick up the pace quickly. Choi Ji-hoon said, “My body has been well made in Korea during the off-season. I am confident in my body condition. However, he said, “I am most worried about the sense of the actual game,” but he promised, “I will raise the pace little by little from tomorrow and prepare according to the game schedule.”
Choi Ji-hoon’s feelings about his first Taegeuk mark were solemn. Choi Ji-hoon said, “Personally, wearing a uniform with the Taegeuk mark is a very heavy position and I feel burdened because I think it is a position with a lot of responsibility.” I will do my best to focus on winning, as this is the position I am playing.”
As expected by many, we can now see the ‘beast’ on the international stage. If Choi Ji-hoon roars to his heart’s content in the WBC, he is expected to see more scenes of the Korean national team performing well.