“I wish Choi Jung would stop hitting so much,” says Korea’s top outfielder who wants to be a home run king

“I wish Choi Jung would stop hitting so much,” says Korea’s top outfielder who wants to be a home run king

Noh Si-hwan (22-Hanwha Eagles) has been called up to the Korean National Team, a fitting tribute to senior Choi Jung (36-SSG Landers).

Prior to his call-up to the national team, Noh emerged as one of the KBO’s leading sluggers, hitting .287 with 31 home runs, 99 RBIs, a .549 slugging percentage and a .938 OPS in 126 league games. He leads the league in home runs, RBIs, and on-base percentage and is on pace to win the batting title by the 24th.

Noh will miss 12 league games while competing in the Asian Games. The tournament is characterized by uninterrupted league play, which means that competitors can step up while he’s away. Especially when it comes to home runs and RBIs.

“The home run king is decided by the heavens,” Noh said modestly when we met before the national team’s call-up training at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 24.

But his honest feelings are different. Choi is second in home runs. He’s five behind Noh. Choi is a power hitter who can be scary once she gets a feel for the game. 

“I don’t know how many more she’s going to hit while I’m gone (for the Asian Games), but I hope she doesn’t hit as many as possible,” said Noh. I hope I’m still number one when I get back,” he said sincerely.

After returning home, Noh plans to play right away, starting with the match on the 9th. He has already spoken to coach Choi Won-ho, who said,바카라 “I’m planning to play right after the national team period ends. I’m going to try my best and not give up until the end,” he said.

Noh Si-hwan./My Daily

With one more hit, he will reach the 30-homer, 100-RBI plateau. That would be a record. Only three players in KBO history have achieved 30 home runs and 100 RBIs in the same season at the age of 23 or younger. Jang Jong-hoon of Bingre in 1991 (35 homers and 114 RBIs), Park Jae-hong of Hyundai in 1996 (30 homers and 108 RBIs), and Lee Seung-yeop of Samsung in 1997-1999 (32 homers and 114 RBIs, 38 homers and 102 RBIs, 54 homers and 123 RBIs).

And Noh could follow in his footsteps. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t complete the 100-hit milestone before making his first national team appearance as an adult, but he’s happy to have found a way to hit. In September alone, he didn’t hit a home run. After breaking the 30-homer plateau against LG in Jamsil on the 2nd, he didn’t hit another home run for a while, and on the 22nd, a day before his call-up, he hit his first over the fence against Kiwoom in Daejeon. With his team trailing 1-6 in the bottom of the seventh inning, he hit a two-run shot over the center field fence against Kiwoom’s Moon Sung-hyun. It was Noh’s 31st home run in 16 games. His multi-hit day, which included a two-run homer, helped him take some of the pressure off and earn a spot on the national team.

“Before I came, I was worried because I wasn’t hitting well. Baseball is a mental game, so you have to be in a good mood to get excited about training, but I was stressed because my bat wasn’t working. However, I think I was able to get a sense of the timing and things like that in the last game, so I was able to find peace of mind and train in a good mood.”

Noh is expected to bat fourth. “The batting order hasn’t been announced yet, but I expect to be the center fielder,” he said. “Going into (the tournament), I wasn’t thinking about home runs at all. I’m just focused on hitting the ball accurately.”

Kang Baek-ho and Noh Si-hwan (left)./My Daily

Kim Ji-chan and Noh Si-hwan (right)./My Daily

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