Lee Woo-sung, 29, wasn’t the most prominent name in Kia’s pre-season plans for the Beast. While everyone was busy envisioning the futures of established stars and younger players with high expectations, Lee was quietly sharpening his knives.
For more than two years, he had kept his promise to himself to get out early every morning for personal training. Always a worrier, he’s also kept his mindset of doing his best and not worrying about what he can’t control. The player, who was a little behind in the batting order at the beginning of the camp, began to make up for it through exhibition games, and eventually became the team’s main hitter, and now has the precious “star” of All-Star on his chest.
The KBO announced the manager’s picks ahead of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League All-Star Game’ on July 15 at Sajik Stadium. While the ‘Best 12’ was finalized through fan voting, Kiwoom head coach Hong Won-ki, who will lead the Nanum All-Stars, added Lee Woo-sung to his list of recommended players. This will be his first individual All-Star appearance.
It is true that there is a certain amount of distribution among the teams when it comes to managers’ recommendations for the All-Star Game. KIA already had four players confirmed to play in the All-Star Game through fan voting: Yang Hyun-jong, Choi Ji-min, Socrates, and Choi Hyung-woo. Hong’s choice was Lee Woo-sung, which meant he had fewer players to nominate.
It was a well-deserved selection. Lee has become an integral part of the KIA lineup this year, hitting .306 with five home runs, 24 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.810 in 59 games. No matter where he is in the batting order, he’s done his job, and there have been plenty of games where he’s pulled his team out of a hole with a long ball or a clutch hit.
More importantly, his steady hitting in a KIA lineup that was riddled with injuries was a huge boost for his career off the bench. After breaking into the starting lineup with a .292 batting average in 14 games through April, Lee Woo-sung continued his consistent performance with a .302 batting average in 21 games in May and a .318 batting average in 23 games in June.
He batted third, sixth, and seventh in the batting order until the return of main outfielder Na Sung-beom. He doesn’t have too much of a left-right bias either, which is helpful. He was literally a jack-of-all-trades who could be used in any situation and against any type of opponent.
Kia manager Kim Jong-kook also congratulated Lee on his first All-Star appearance, emphasizing that he earned it. Speaking to reporters before the game against SSG in Incheon, which was canceled due to rain on the 4th, Kim said, “In the first half of the game, he was really good regardless of whether he was in the center or the bottom of the batting order. They showed a lot of improvement in defense and offense,” he said.
Despite a recent dip in his batting, Kim’s faith seems to be strong. Kim believes that Lee’s recent drop in hitting is due to stamina issues caused by his constant playing time. Lee is already one at-bat away from reaching his career-high of 199 at-bats. That’s why Kim is talking about “resting up.토토사이트
However, if the game against SSG on Thursday at Incheon SSG Landers Field had not been canceled due to rain, Lee would have started that day. He was in the starting lineup. It could have symbolized that Lee’s position in the Kia organization isn’t going anywhere. If he can follow up his first All-Star Game appearance with a strong second half, he could complete a career-best season.