SSG was barely a top-five team heading into the new season. Two years later, the spotlight is on SSG.

SSG became the first team in KBO history to win the wire-to-wire title in 2022, which boosted its stock price. Last season, the team battled LG for the lead in the first half of the season before slipping in the second half and finishing third.

It was unfortunate that they lost to NC in the semifinals and ended their fall baseball early, but it wasn’t as bad as not making the top five or falling to the bottom of the standings.

In terms of the roster for the new season, there are no major changes from last year. First of all, the two-hitting pillar of Choi Jung-jeong and Kim Kwang-hyun is still intact.

The outfield has competitive hitters like Guillermo Heredia, Han Yoo-seom, and Choi Ji-hoon, and while new foreign pitcher Robert Der or last year’s underachiever Park Jong-hoon are variables, the pitching staff also has pluses like Seo Jin-yong, the “King of Saves,” and Kim Taek-hyung, who will join the team after leaving the military.

SSG coach Lee Sung-yong revealed his determination to write an “anti-war drama” a day before the start of the KBO season.

Speaking at the ‘2024 KBO Media Day’ event held at Lotte Hotel Seoul in Jung-gu, Seoul, on April 22, Lee said, “The question marks before we left spring camp have turned into exclamation points. The players trained hard and gained confidence through the exhibition games.” “All the media and experts predicted SSG to be below the top five, but the beauty of baseball is to be wrong. We’ll show them what we’re made of.”

The players echoed the coach’s confidence.

“I don’t care about the pre-season rankings at all. “I don’t care about the pre-season ratings at all,” said Seo, adding, “I think it’s the same as last year, so why should I think about the rankings.

Choi said it was because of the “impression” that they had a messy off-season, even though they didn’t. SSG had a controversial off-season after the 2023 season, with the firing of former coach Kim Won-hyung and the appointment of new coach Lee Sung-yong, and the departure of “One Club Man” Kim Kang-min to Hanwha.

“I think it’s because there were a lot of things that happened in the offseason that made us look unprepared, and I think they think we’re going to play the season in that atmosphere, but I don’t have a problem with that at all,” Choi said. “Baseball players are almost the same as they were when they won the championship. We’re going to finish the season on a high note so that people’s expectations are wrong.”


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