Professional baseball Kiwoom general manager Ko Hyeong-wook said ahead of the start of the regular season in April, “There hasn’t been a single season where we didn’t aim to win.” This was an answer that came while Kiwoom was talking about its will to ‘win now’, which was actually publicly revealed during the preparation process for this season.
No matter where Kiwoom’s goals have been headed, the club’s internal will and external evaluation have never been as close as this season. Above all, everyone was watching the situation that might be the last season with Kiwoom as the top player in the KBO League’s two-hit division.
Outfielder Lee Jeong-hoo and pitcher Ahn Woo-jin ranked 1st and 2nd in overall WAR (win contribution compared to replacement players, based on Stats) in the KBO League in the 2022 season. Lee Jeong-hoo recorded 10.25, and Ahn Woo-jin recorded 7.92. Kiwoom could be interpreted as having added ’18 wins’ by having two players last year.
So it was very common sense for Kiwoom to try to do something when the two players were present. In fact, Kiwoom made an unusual move in the free agent (free agent) market and the future free agent market, formalizing its intention to challenge for greater heights.
Kiwoom can dream next year as well. However, it has become difficult to predict when the ‘win now chance’ that everyone will nod their heads about will return.
Lee Jeong-hoo, who had difficulty returning for the remainder of the season due to an ankle injury last July, is certain to advance to the major leagues through the upcoming winter posting (private bidding system). In addition, Ahn Woo-jin, the pillar of the mound, is on the operating table due to an elbow injury, making it unclear whether he will stand on the mound for the first team next season. On the 2nd, Kiwoom announced the diagnosis of Ahn Woo-jin’s elbow ligament damage and a rough surgical plan. Elbow ligament fusion surgery usually takes a year to return to work.
Ahn Woo-jin, who is in his 6th season in the KBO League, can perform military service during the gap from surgery. In this case, it does not seem easy for Ahn Woo-jin to return in the 2025 season.
In recent seasons, Kiwoom has built the team’s strength by establishing Lee Jung-hoo and Ahn Woo-jin as the team’s framework and adding flesh to them. After next season, we face the reality of having to build a team with a completely different color.
In the field field, it is expected that it will be necessary to select the good ones among the fielders who were stagnant this season as we once again confirmed the growth of ‘military-finished outfielder’ Joo-hyung Lee, who was brought in after giving up pitcher Won-tae Choi. Among the pitching staff, Jang Jae-young, who shows potential for growth this season, is becoming a key player. In addition, Kiwoom is expected to try to lay the foundation for the ‘next opportunity’ with five picks within the third round of next season’s draft acquired through trades, etc. This season, Kiwoom has fallen to the bottom with several plans going wrong. The time to find a new path, not only in terms of team performance but also in composition, has come a little earlier.