KIA Tigers’ veteran infielder Seo Geon-chang hit a home run for the first time in 560 days and announced the revival of the ‘MVP’.

KIA won 5-1 in the second game of the season against KT Wiz of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League held at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 3rd. The pain of the previous day’s 6-10 loss was washed away in one day and the team maintained second place. They trailed the leader Hanwha Eagles by 0.5 games.

It was Seo Geon-chang who led KIA to victory. Seo Geon-chang started as the 7th hitter and first baseman and hit hard with 3 hits in 4 at-bats, 1 home run, 3 RBIs, and 2 runs scored.

Seo Geon-chang swung the bat vigorously from the first at-bat. In the top of the second inning, when KIA was down 0-1, with one out and runners on first and third base, he hit a timely hit with one RBI against KT starting pitcher Eom Sang-baek to bring the game back to square one. In an unfavorable count with no ball to strike, he hit Eom Sang-baek’s 137km cut fastball on the third pitch and resulted in a clean left-handed hit.

Seo Geon-chang tied the score and even hit a shot that turned the game around. In the top of the 4th inning when KIA was tied 1-1, he hit a 2-run home run with 2 outs and 1st base, making the score 3-1. With one ball, one strike, Eom Sang-baek’s third pitch, a 129km changeup, sent a 115m batted ball over the right fence.

It has been 560 days since Seo Geon-chang hit a home run in a KBO League first-team game on September 21, 2022. Seo Geon-chang, who was a member of the LG Twins at the time, tried his hand at the Gwangju KIA Tigers game. He was released after hitting no home runs last year, and this year he started a new home at KIA and hit a home run to announce his revival for his hometown team.

Seo Geon-chang kept the momentum and swung the bat vigorously in his third at-bat. In the top of the 6th inning, with KIA leading 3-1, with 1 out and runners on first base, he hit a double to the right-center field against pitcher Ju Kwon, who had changed. In one ball, two strikes, he attacked a 138km fastball with a perfect swing.

KIA widened the score to 5-1 with Kim Tae-goon’s 2 RBI and a timely hit in a chance with one out and 2nd and 3rd bases on Seo Geon-chang’s double. After securing victory in the middle of the game, the bullpen silenced KT’s pursuit and secured the victory.

KIA was able to operate a more structured batting lineup with Seo Geon-chang performing better than expected while leading hitter Na Seong-beom was rehabilitating from an injury. Although he is not a big gun type like Seo Geon-chang or Seong-beom, if the contact ability he showed in his prime is revived, he can have one more card that can put pressure on the opponent’s mound.

Seo Geon-chang is an indispensable hitter in the history of the KBO League. After becoming the Kiwoom Heroes’ starting second baseman in 2012, he recorded a batting average of 0.266 (115 hits in 433 at-bats), 1 home run, 40 RBIs, 70 runs, and 39 stolen bases in 127 games, winning the Rookie of the Year Award and the Golden Glove in the second base category, creating the ‘New Player Legend’. wrote.

Seo Geon-chang hit 201 hits in the 2014 season, becoming the main character who achieved an unprecedented record of 200 hits in the KBO League. Seo Geon-chang boasted a batting average of 0.370 (201 hits in 543 at-bats), 7 home runs, 67 RBIs, 135 runs, 48 ​​stolen bases, an on-base percentage of 0.438, and a slugging percentage of 0.547. He won the Golden Glove at second base along with MVP, as well as batting, most hits, and runs scored titles.

Since then, Seo Geon-chang has continued to be a top second baseman in the league, recording a batting average of over .300 in the 2016, 2017, and 2019 seasons. Even in the aftermath of the 2020 season, he received a decent report card with a batting average of 0.277 (134 hits in 484 at-bats), 5 home runs, 52 RBI, and 24 stolen bases in 135 games.

However, Seo Geon-chang’s decline continued after being traded to LG in July 2021. In the 2021 season, he had a batting average of 0.253 (130 hits in 513 at-bats), 6 home runs, and 52 RBIs, and in 2022, he performed poorly with a batting average of 0.224 (49 hits in 219 at-bats), 2 home runs, and 18 RBIs in 77 games. He suffered from a terrible slump to the point where he was unable to exercise his free agency rights for two consecutive years.

Last year, Seo Geon-chang also bowed his head with a batting average of 0.200 (22 hits in 110 at-bats) and 12 RBIs in 44 games. The team’s position was greatly weakened, and the season ended in solitude without being included in LG’s Korean Series entry.

Gwangju native Seo Geon-chang sought a comeback with his hometown team KIA. After the end of the 2023 season, he requested his release from LG and found a new team. KIA, which needed reinforcement in the infield, reached out to Seo Geon-chang.

KIA recruited Seo Geon-chang for a total of 120 million won, including an annual salary of 50 million won and an option of 70 million won, ahead of his departure for the Australian spring camp in mid-January.

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