Former 201-hit MVP Seo Gun-chang (35-KIA) is looking to make a comeback with his hometown team. Hitting coach Lee Bum-ho, who is coaching Seo at the Australian spring training camp, is confident of his resurgence in the 2024 season.
Seo signed a contract with the KIA Tigers for a total of 120 million won ($50 million in salary and $70 million in options) on March 15 to extend his career. At the time, a KIA official said, “We decided to sign Seo Gun-chang because we believe his experience will help the young and promising infielders in the team grow. We hope that he will lead the juniors well alongside Kim Sun-bin, and we look forward to his resurgence in his hometown team.”
Seo joined the professional ranks in 2008 as a developmental player for the LG Twins after graduating from Gwangju Il-Go, where he spent his prime with the Heroes. His best season was in 2014. In 128 games, he batted .201 with seven home runs, 67 RBI, 48 doubles, 135 runs scored, and a career-high 48 stolen bases, winning the regular season MVP and breaking the KBO record for most hits in a single season.
Seo is the only player to reach the 200-hit plateau since the KBO’s inception in 1982.
The former Heroes second baseman returned to his hometown LG in July 2021 in a one-for-one trade for Chung Chan-heon. From there, Seo’s career began a steep downward spiral. He played in all 144 games in his preliminary free agency season, but after joining LG, he struggled in 68 games with a batting average of 2.047 with 24 RBIs, and opted for free agency at the end of the season.
The 2022 season didn’t go his way either. Injuries and slugging slumped him into a 77-game slump in which he batted just 2-for-4 with two home runs and 18 RBIs. 온라인카지노 Once again, Seo did not exercise his free agency rights and opted for free agency.
Seo reunited with manager Yoon Kyung-yeop “Eunsa” Yeom for the 2023 season. Yoon was the manager when Seo won the 2014 regular season MVP and 200-hit season. Knowing Seo’s strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else, Yoon was confident in his protégé’s resurgence, and Seo led the team in batting average (3-for-6) in the exhibition games, raising his chances of a comeback.
However, Seo struggled again in 2023, batting just 2-for-12 in 44 games.
After losing out to Kim Min-sung for the starting job early in the season, he suffered a back injury in the second team, and when he recovered, backup Shin Min-jae surged and failed to regain the starting job. As a result, Seo was labeled as LG’s non-roster player and was unable to make the Korean Series roster and had to watch the team’s first title in 29 years on TV.
After the 2023 season, Seo requested his release from LG, deciding that there was no hope for him with the deep roster and deciding to find a new team. As a free agent, Seo received offers from his family and hometown team KIA, and after much deliberation, he chose KIA.
Seo is trying to make a comeback at Narabunda Ballpark in Canberra, Australia, the first spring training camp for KIA. He is in the veteran group with his best friend Kim Sun-bin, along with Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, Socrates Brito, Lee Chang-jin, and Ko Jong-wook.
When I met him in Canberra, Seo’s expression was serious.
Gone were the smiles, and he approached his training with a serious expression. Even as he waited for his turn to bat, he was seen holding the bat and constantly checking his batting form.
“He’s in the process of building his body,” said Kia batting coach Lee Beom-ho, “and I don’t talk to him about the batting form at all. I’m taking care of his mind so that he can find stability in the psychological part.”
“He’s a player with great stats,” the coach said, adding, “He’s a player who will find his own if he is given the right situation to showcase his abilities. He will be able to do well in KIA.” He expressed a positive outlook.
Seo is now in his fourth year of free agency, with various variables and bad news such as trades, slumps, and injuries. It remains to be seen if the reigning MVP will be able to spread his wings and soar again with his hometown team.