The Lotte Giants are struggling to hit the ball after opening the 2023 season. Their 28 team home runs rank last among the 10 clubs, and their on-base percentage is ninth at 0.340. That’s a far cry from the league average of .365. While the team is sixth in runs scored (307) thanks to the hitters’ focus at the plate, the offense has lost a lot of flavor.
Lotte’s lack of firepower this season is largely due to the retirement of “Big Boy” Lee Dae-ho, who blasted 23 home runs last year, and the lack of production from key hitters like Han Dong-hee (2 home runs), Jack Rex (3 home runs), and Yoo Kang-nam (2 home runs). Choi Sun-cham picked up the slack with a team-high six home runs, but the silence from the other hitters didn’t provide much synergy.
Aside from the two-hitter winds blowing across the league, Lotte’s offense itself hasn’t been sharp. One of the biggest reasons for their 9-16 record in June was their batting slump. The team batted 0.252 for the month, more than a full run off the league average team batting average of 0.264 for the same period. The team on-base percentage was last at .333.
Lotte’s latest taste of the long ball came against the Sasik Samsung Lions on April 27. Rex’s two-run homer in the top of the first inning gave them the lead, and then Yoo Kang-nam’s two-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth tied at 3-3 helped them snap a two-game losing streak.
Conversely, the Ulsan Doosan Bears were brought to their knees by the absence of a big hitter on the first two days. Contrast that with Doosan, who secured wins on a wedge solo homer by Kang Seung-ho on the first day and a game-winning two-run shot by Yang Seok-hwan on the second.
Lotte has been cruising in the top five since the start of the season, but it’s hard to see them turning the tide with a single home run in a close game. Contrast that with teams ranked higher than Lotte, including current leader LG (40 home runs), second-place SSG (72 home runs), and third-place NC (44 home runs), who have solid sluggers in their cleanup trios.
LOTTE manager Larry Sutton is the first to admit that “long balls are always good.” As the first left-handed foreign player to lead the KBO in home runs (35) in the 2005 season with the Hyundai Unicorns (disbanded in 2007), he knows firsthand the positive impact home runs can have on a team.
However, we have to think about team composition. Lotte’s foreign hitter, Rex, has punch, but he’s not a typical big hitter. Rex himself says, “I only hit three home runs last year. I don’t get nervous when I don’t hit a home run,” he said.
Sutton says, “We don’t have anyone on the team that can hit more than 30 home runs in a season. That’s why I don’t ask them to hit a lot of home runs.” “But Lotte’s strength is team batting. We have that identity of playing as a team. I think that’s one of our strong points, that the batters understand their roles and play accordingly, batting with dedication to the team.”
According to Sutton, Lotte’s ideal scoring formula is to put as many runners in scoring position as possible. With runners on second and third or first and third, the emphasis is on getting runners across the plate somehow, even if it’s not through a long ball or a hit, but through a walk or a sacrifice.
Lotte actually recorded 31 sacrifice flies this season, the most of any of the 10 clubs. They also had 38 successful sacrifice bunts, second only to the first-place LG Twins. This was a result of the bench executing the offense well and making the right swings in the right situations.
Lotte’s offense, which focuses on creating chances and getting on base, is likely to continue this season. Even when star shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk, outfielder Ahn Kwon-soo, and veteran right fielder Jeong Hoon return from injury, the focus will be more on team batting than long balls.온라인카지노
“Our primary goal offensively is to put runners in scoring position,” Sutton said. “It’s about aggressive base running to get one more base, situational hitting to advance runners, and team batting. We’re focusing more on scoring runs with runners in scoring position and in chances where we’re sure to score. Those are our colors.”