Lee Jung-hoo in the spotlight, U.S. praises “defense is also above average”
Lee Jung-hoo, 25, has become one of the best hitters in the KBO with the Kiwoom Heroes, but where will he end up in the major leagues?
Local media in the United States and MLB.com have been looking at players who became free agents in the offseason. The player receiving the most attention is Shohei Ohtani, who has established himself as a top star with the Los Angeles Angels as a “two-hitter”. Lee Jung-hoo is also receiving high praise from local media and MLB.com.
MLB.com took a look at the Korean and Japanese professional baseball players who will be available in the major leagues on April 4 and called Lee “an intriguing option”. The St. Louis Cardinals, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants were also mentioned as possible destinations for Lee.
On March 3, CBS Sports ranked players who are eligible for free agency and need to sign new contracts, ranking Lee 15th among the top 50. 먹튀검증토토사이트 “Lee ended his season in July with a fractured ankle (left). Although he was no longer able to audition for major league scouts, he is considered an above-average runner and defender. He also showed significant contact ability.” San Francisco, San Diego, and the Los Angeles Angels are among the teams that could be a good fit.
The American publication The Athletic ranked Lee 10th in its top 50 free agent rankings
Among outfielders, he was second only to No. 2 Cody Bellinger. Columnist Keith Law said, “One of the best pure hitters in the KBO, with excellent hand-eye coordination. He’s the best hitter in Korea right now, and while the pitching he’s faced hasn’t been major league quality, he’s done everything reasonably asked of a hitter in that environment. He made a lot of hard contact and rarely swung wildly.
MLB.com also ranked Lee at No. 13 in their free agent rankings, stating, “Lee batted 4-for-2 with a .295 average for South Korea in the World Baseball Classic. He was the KBO League MVP in 2022 and has a career batting average of .344 with a .407 on-base percentage and .491 slugging percentage in 3476 at-bats and 1181 hits over seven seasons.”
“He is considered an above-average defender,” according to CBS Sports.
Lee is considered one of the best contact hitters in the KBO. This year, he was limited to 86 games due to an ankle injury, but in all six seasons prior to last year, he played more than 100 games and had a batting average of over 3.2.
Of course, he may lack the long ball power that CBS Sports is concerned about. As the outlet notes, “Lee is not a great power hitter. 23 of his 65 career home runs came in 2022. This puts pressure on him to fully recover so that he can contribute in the field and on the basepaths. And major league teams are concerned about how KBO hitters will fare against big league pitchers.”
Lee is highly anticipated, with top rankings on MLB.com, CBS Sports, and The Athletic. The Athletic’s Jack Britton, who is preparing to break into the big leagues through the posting system, estimated a four-year, $56 million contract, excluding posting fees.
Notably, CBS Sports and MLB.com both mentioned Lee’s “above-average defense.
In the KBO, Lee is considered a player who can be trusted to make contact if he makes it to the major leagues. He can hit well. However, there are concerns about whether he can be competitive in the outfield.
Lee has a KBO Gold Glove, but it’s still a question mark whether he’ll be good enough to win a Gold Glove in the majors. In Korea, Golden Glove winners are selected based on offensive statistics, but in the major leagues, Silver Sluggers are awarded for hitting and Gold Glovers for defense.
Defense is especially important. Even in the KBO, you can play in the first team if your defense is good enough, even if your batting ability is a bit lacking. The same is true in the Major Leagues. San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim was able to eventually showcase his hitting ability because his defense kept him in the game.
Without defense, you’re only half a player. That’s not to say that Lee isn’t a good defender. He’s so good at making contact that his defense is often undervalued. It will be interesting to see how he is evaluated and where he ends up.