No Shin-Soo Choo next year anyway… Lee Sung-yong-pyo’s SSG batting order plan

Shin-Soo Choo (42, SSG) is synonymous with being a leadoff hitter. He doesn’t have a high batting average to compete for the batting title, but his four-pitch style has always kept his OPS among the best in the league. As if that wasn’t enough, he also has the power to hit two doubles and 20+ home runs at any given time. That”s why he was recognized as one of the best leadoff hitters in the majors.

In his 16-year major league career, Shin-Soo Choo totaled 7157 at-bats. Almost half of them, 3365, were in the number one spot in the batting order, followed by 1313 in the number three spot and 1137 in the number two spot. Even after coming to the KBO, he mostly batted first. Shin-soo Choo has totaled 1541 at-bats since joining SSG in 2021, with the vast majority (1097) coming at number one. He has 285 at-bats at No. 3, followed by 134 at No. 2.

To summarize, Shin-Soo Choo has spent most of his career batting in the top of the order, 1-3, with 1-3 being the most familiar. However, in his final season, it’s likely that he won’t be batting leadoff. Of course, he could return to the No. 1 spot in the future, depending on the situation, but in SSG manager Lee Sung-yong’s plan, Shin-soo will bat No. 2 this year.

Lee is thinking of putting Shin-soo in the No. 2 spot. The plan is to have Choi Ji-hoon bat leadoff. Choi is a fast player. Once he gets going, he can cause a lot of trouble for opposing pitchers. Then, when Shin-soo Choo comes in, there’s a lot more he can do. Shin-Soo Choo also emphasized in his meeting with Lee that he doesn’t mind batting second. He said he’s fine with batting anywhere in the order as long as it’s where the team wants to go and where the team can be strong.

Despite his reputation as a player who takes great care of his body, Choo is 42 years old. He can’t be fresh every day. Therefore, Lee is thinking of using him as a starter for three to four games a week. The idea is that he needs to be physically fit to perform well. More importantly, this is Shin-Soo Choo’s last season. We need to find a new leadoff man. Choi Ji-hoon has always been the long-term alternative, so we’re going to trust him. After all, Choi Ji-hoon needs to rebound from his batting slump last year, and the manager believes that his pace is not bad and that he has recovered mentally.

Choo Shin-soo agrees that if he bats second, it will be easier for him to move around when Choi Ji-hoon is on base. Because he is a left-handed hitter, he is blocking the path to first base, which limits the catcher’s movement. Also, this year’s defense shifts are much more relaxed. Choo Shin-soo also envisions himself pulling Choi Ji-hoon to second or third base when the team needs a run. “He’s thinking about it all,” Lee said. He also calculates that if Choi Ji-hoon is out, Choo Shin-soo can start the rest of the inning as the leadoff man again. The plan is for Shin-soo to pinch-hit for Ha Jae-hoon if a weaker pitcher takes the mound.

No. 3 is a fixed constant. It’s the best spot. The No. 4 spot, which has gotten a lot of attention, will most likely go to Han Yoo-seom. Lee is also considering a platoon, but in the early stages of the season, he plans to give Han the No. 4 spot regardless of left or right-handers. In the past, left-handers have often been left out of the starting lineup, so the stress on the player is also a consideration. Instead, he urged Han to prove that he can hit well against lefties. If he can’t prove it, he’ll likely go to the platoon.

No. 5 is Guillermo Heredia. The manager is high on Heredia’s hitting skills and expects him to hit at least as well as he did last year. He has a lot of power and good contact, so he’s a good candidate to bring in runners on base. The sixth spot will most likely be Park Sung-han’s if he starts.

No. 7 is the first baseman’s spot. Currently, Jeon Eui-san and Go Myung-joon are competing for the starting first base job. Regardless of who wins, both players don’t have much first-team experience yet. They have the potential to hit long balls, but the idea is to bat them lower in the order so they don’t put too much pressure on the center fielders. The eighth spot is a catcher and the ninth is a second baseman. The competition at second base is fierce, so it’s not yet clear who will be the starting second baseman. However, Ahn Sang-hyun, who is quick on his feet, could synergize with Choi Ji-hoon at No. 1 if he emerges as the winner.

Of course, this batting order is just a theory. The batting order will change almost every day, depending on the opposing pitcher, the hitting form of the players, the players’ rest days, the use of the designated hitter, and the team’s intentional strategy. Even the most lineup-oriented teams will have at least 100 different lineups in 144 games. However, it’s best to stick to the ideal batting order you envisioned before the season.

The lineup for our own scrimmage on April 18 is based on this idea. The Red Team’s lineup is one of the most heavily weighted toward starters. Choi Ji-hoon (center field), Choo Shin-soo (right field), Choi Jung (third base), Han Yoo-seom (designated hitter), Eredia (left field), Park Sung-han (shortstop), Jeon Jeonsan (first base), Cho Hyung-woo (catcher), and Ahn Sang-hyun (second base). Kim Sung-min will bat 10th in the lineup, and the pitching staff will be Lee Eun-wook, Choi Min-joon, Han Dong-sol, Cho Byung-hyun, and Baek Seung-gun.

The back lineup is Kim Chang-pyeong (right fielder), Ha Jae-hoon (center fielder), Oh Tae-gon (left fielder), Ko Myung-joon (first baseman), Kim Chan-hyung (third baseman), Kim Sung-hyun (shortstop), Choi Jun-woo (second baseman), Lee Ji-young (designated hitter), Kim Min-sik (catcher), and Choi Kyung-mo as the No. 10 hitter. The pitchers will be Park Min-ho, Lee Rhee, Jung Sung-gon, Seo Sang-joon, and Song Young-jin. It will be the first scrimmage of the camp and will be a six-inning game.


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