Will this be the second team in history to be in last place for four consecutive years? The Hanwha Eagles, who lost 8 games in a row, fell to last place again after 72 days. This is a lower win rate than Kiwoom, which is ‘actually tanking’.
Hanwha lost 0-10 to the LG Twins in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on the 1st. The loss that started on the 19th of last month has already led to 8 consecutive losses. With 42 wins, 6 draws and 61 losses, the winning percentage dropped to 0.408 and the ranking also became 10th. Kiwoom Heroes fell one game behind Hanwha in terms of game margin, but rose to 9th place in winning percentage (0.412). Hanwha was in last place again 72 days after June 21st.
The game on the 1st was tight until the 4th inning. Starter Felix Peña conceded a run first, but still made a save, giving up only one run in a crisis with one out, second and third bases. However, the additional 3 runs in the 5th inning were fatal blows. Even the bullpen collapsed, with Peña allowing only 4 runs in 5 innings. Second pitcher Lee Chung-ho gave 5 points while getting one out, and even Kang Jae-min, who came up behind him, failed to control the atmosphere.
The batters only had 5 hits. Hanwha was unable to score even on first and second base with no outs, and when the gap widened to 10 points, Hanwha threw in the towel. Following the use of a pinch hitter in the 7th inning, all outfielders were replaced, and in the 8th inning, all 4 infielders were replaced.
With the score difference widening and even the starting pitcher missing, the offensive innings became meaningless. With 1st and 2nd bases out and no outs in the 6th inning, 12 batters were out in a row, and the game ended after 2 hours and 44 minutes. After a while, Kiwoom caught KT and Hanwha fell to last place.
They changed managers while shouting about winning baseball or preparing for winning baseball, and at one point they tried to chase down 5th place, but in the end they were stuck. If the season ends like this, they will be the second team in history to record the lowest ranking for four consecutive years, following the Lotte Giants from 2001 to 2004.
On May 11, when coach Won-ho Choi was promoted to first team head coach, Hanwha was ranked 9th. Hanwha rose to 9th place on 안전놀이터 May 7th under coach Subero and maintained that position for a month until June 6th. From June 7 to 21, it was at the lowest place for 15 days, but began to rebound from the 22nd. At one point in July, the gap with the top 5 was narrowed to 2.0 games.
But I didn’t have the strength to follow it any further. They tried replacing foreign batsmen to relieve the sluggish batting lineup, but the result was just another failure. After Brian O’Grady was released, Nick Williams was brought in after a month of careful consideration, but the situation did not change at all.
Williams is unable to enter the starting lineup due to defensive concerns. His batting average in 37 games is just 0.221. Hanwha’s team batting average is 0.238 and OPS is 0.665, the lowest in the team, as even the replacement of foreign batters, which was thought to be the last turning point, failed.
Last year, the number of mistakes was the highest with 134, but this year it became the lowest with 76. Coach Choi Won-ho is also said to have placed more emphasis on defense for players who are on a losing streak. Ahead of the game on the 1st, “I said, let’s focus on what we can do better between hitting and defense. Batting is not an area where you can get good results just because you try to be good at it. There is no player who can’t hit because he doesn’t want to be good at it. Instead, if you are conscious of defense, you can do well. “I’m trying to focus on defense,” he said.
In fact, there were only 4 mistakes during this period. But in fact, the fault lay elsewhere. The team batting average is only 0.160, and the runs allowed per game amount to 6.1.
Significant means of reinforcing power, such as replacing foreign players and trading, are now blocked. The September entry expansion does not appear to be an opportunity for Hanwha to dramatically strengthen its power. Moreover, the Tuta pillar will soon have to vacate its position. Dong-ju Moon will finish his regular season appearances with the game against LG in Jamsil on the 3rd and begin managing pitching innings and preparing for the Asian Games. Noh Si-hwan will also participate in the Asian Games.
Another reason why ranking last for four consecutive years does not seem impossible is Hanwha’s performance in the second half of the year. Hanwha has 8 wins, 2 draws, and 21 losses in the second half of the season, with a winning percentage of only 0.276. Whether Hanwha wanted to win this year or prepare for winning baseball, I don’t think it expected such results.