The battle for the top spot is fierce, and the contours of the top and bottom are beginning to emerge.
The KIA Tigers are neither up nor down. As of the 22nd day of the 36-game season, they have an 18-18 record and a winning percentage of exactly 5%. They are in 6th place out of 10 teams. But it’s still just a number. They’re half a game behind the fourth-place NC Dinos and three games behind the eighth-place Kiwoom Heroes.
The position could go either way depending on the outcome of the three-game series. There are definitely some positives for the team, with outfielder Choi Won-jun returning from the disabled list in June and Na Sung-beom Kim preparing to return. With a small gap between them and the bottom half of the standings, the team needs to maintain their current form and set their sights on climbing to the top of the standings. In the end, they need to find the right time to make a push while paying attention to the health and fitness of their main players.
For the past two months, KIA has been playing with a lot of breathing room. They have a 5 percent winning percentage while utilizing all of their first-team backup resources amidst injury contingencies. Ko Jong-wook and Lee Woo-sung have been utilized as a de facto platoon, while Kim Ho-ryung, Kim Kyu-sung, Byun Woo-hyuk, and Hong Jong-pyo have all played their part as pinch-hitters and defenders. The bullpen is also dominated by players who have been in place since the start of the season. But they won’t be able to get through all 144 games. At some point, the Futures (secondary) team will need to step up and replace them.
The Kia Future team is tied for third place in the six-team Southern League with NC. Coincidentally, the Future Team has a winning percentage of just 5% with 17 wins and 17 losses. This is tied for the fourth-best record among the five teams in the Northern League.
At the plate, Park has the best batting average among hitters with more than 100 at-bats (3-for-2, 11th overall). He is followed by Im Seok-jin (2-for-9, 18th overall, 3 home runs, 20 RBIs, 0.892 OPS). On the pitching side, the only standout is Kim Jae-yeol, who is in the starting class and has a 3-1 record with a 1.97 ERA in six games and 32 innings pitched. Overall, I don’t see any so-called league-bombers. Of the rookie options, Yoon Do-hyun, a 2022 second-round pick, shows some promise, but he still needs to accumulate more data to prove it. Outfielder Kim Seok-hwan and bullpen arms Kim Yoo-shin, Yoon Jung-hyun, Park Joon-pyo, and Ko Young-chang, who were highly touted heading into the season, are underperforming.
The gap between the Futures League and the first team is quite large. It’s not uncommon for a player to go from flying high to losing confidence overnight. If a player is on a good streak, they should be promoted to the first team to continue that streak and build their confidence. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the first team is a stage to prove, not grow. The stakes are too high to take a chance on a vague promise while the battle for the top spot is still raging. Looking back at the Futures results, it’s clear that Kia’s concerns are shared. 스포츠토토
That said, it’s hard to ignore the Futures and defend a first-team roster spot. Last year, Kia’s players who performed well in the first half of the season struggled in the second half as their stamina wore down, and the team was forced to fight for the last spot in the standings. To avoid repeating the same process this year, the team needs to find the best way to utilize its roster sooner rather than later.
We barely crossed the threshold to fall baseball last season, but after just one game, we had to retrace our steps. It’s a Kia that needs to find and build a foothold to reach higher.