The growth of Choi Ji-hoon (SSG) continues. Will he be able to continue his league-top performance this season?
Choi Ji-hoon went through Gwangju Jeil High School and Dongguk University and was nominated by SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) with the 30th overall pick in the 3rd round of the 2nd draft in 2020. Choi Ji-hoon, who joined 토토 SK, established himself as a starting outfielder from his first season.
He played in 127 games in the 2020 season, where he had 120 hits, 1 home run, 27 RBI, 18 stolen bases in 466 at-bats for a 0.258 OPS of 0.645. He also performed well on defense. According to the baseball statistics site ‘Staties’, Choi Ji-hoon, who mainly played in right field, played 468 innings in right field and recorded a fielding ratio of 0.983. His errors were committed twice in right field and once in center field and left field positions. In the 2021 season, he showed more growth. He had 121 hits in 461 at-bats with 5 home runs, 45 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases for a batting average of .262 OPS of .705. He recorded two errors.
However, Choi Ji-hoon’s performance shined even more in the 2022 season. Choi Ji-hoon played in all 144 games. He had a career-high season with a .304 OPS of .788 in 570 at bats with 173 hits, 10 homers, 93 runs scored, 61 RBIs, and 31 stolen bases. He ranked 2nd on the team in batting average, 1st in runs scored, 1st in hits, 3rd in RBI, and 1st in stolen bases, and has grown into an indispensable player on the team. He also ranks third in the league in runs scored and stolen bases, and fifth in hits.
It was a season in which Choi Ji-hoon’s defensive ability also shone. Choi Ji-hoon played an active role as the starting center fielder and also played a role in right and left field. As a center fielder, he pitched in 921⅔ innings and recorded only one error. He played 166⅓ innings in left field and 151⅓ innings in right field. He recorded no errors in left and right field positions.
Choi Ji-hoon played an active role as a main player, leading SSG to win the first ‘Wire to Wire’ in the KBO League, and then stepped on the stage of the Korean Series. Head coach Kim Won-hyung picked Choi Ji-hoon and Park Seong-han as young players to look forward to in the Korean Series. Manager Kim Won-hyeong said, “(Choi) Ji-hoon is a player who is very good at defense. I’m also curious about his appearance at bat.”
Choi Ji-hoon slipped during defense in the first game and was silent at the plate, showing a regrettable appearance, but he regained his appearance from the second game. In Game 2, he succeeded in turning the atmosphere around by going 3-for-5 (1 home run), 2 runs scored, 2 RBIs and 1 stolen base. In Game 3, he racked up a hit. In Game 4, where SSG lost, he was silent again, but contributed to the team’s victory with 1 point in Game 5 and 1 hit and 1 goal in Game 6, lifting the Korean Series championship trophy.
Choi Ji-hoon, who climbed step by step while accumulating experience points every season, experienced a ‘combined victory’. I am looking forward to seeing how much more grown Choi Ji-hoon will return this season after having a great experience and finishing with a smile.