Jung Soo Bin wanted the most hits because he was the first hitter

Jung Soo-bin (33, Doosan Bears) has made a name for himself as one of the best outfielders in the KBO since his rookie year with his quick feet and top-notch defense. He has been a fan favorite of Doosan fans since his rookie year.굿모닝토토

But until last year, he hadn’t won a regular-season award in his career. His postseason performances have only earned him series MVP honors in the 2015 Korean Series and the 2021 semifinals.

Jeong Soo-bin attempts to steal a base in the wild-card game last month. Photo by Dusan Bears

This year, 14 years after his debut, he finally reached the podium. As Doosan’s designated hitter in the 2023 season, he hit .287 with 39 stolen bases and won his first career stolen base title. It was his first title after stealing 275 bases in his career. He also led the league in triples (11) and made his first All-Star Game.

It’s rare to win a batting title in your mid-30s. It’s not that their feet are slowing down, but the physical demands and risk of injury make stealing bases difficult for veteran players. This was especially true for Jeong, who struggled in his last two seasons and was unable to play full-time, but he used a late-season spurt to beat out Shin Min-jae (LG Twins) for the title.

“I didn’t have any physical difficulties,” Jung said, “and I haven’t tried to steal many bases in recent years. The team’s batting was really good, so I didn’t have to run a lot, but this year, coach Lee Seung-yup ordered me to run a lot from spring training, so I ran with confidence.”

“I will try to win the most hits next year,” Jung vowed in his acceptance speech. With a career batting average of 0.279 and a single-season record of 146 hits, he admitted that his chances of winning the award were “honestly slim.” But he said he was determined to bat first. “I’ve been batting first a lot this season and I think I’ll be in a position to do that next year,” he said. “If I keep batting first, I’m going to get a lot of opportunities at the plate. I want to get a lot of hits to match that, so I talked about it.”

Doosan’s Jung Soo-bin (left) and Kang Seung-ho (center) celebrate with coach Jung Soo-sung after winning against the LG Twins in Jamsil on April 14. Photo courtesy of the Doosan Bears

Jeong Soo-bin lost out on the award to Park Hae-min (LG-93.06), who finished with 87.5 points (second place) in the defense category, which was new this year. “I’m disappointed that I didn’t get it, but I think there are some things that don’t show up in the numbers,” Jung said. “I’ve always prided myself on being really good at defense. I hope to get it next year, but if I don’t, it’s okay,” he laughed.

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