Hanwha quenches right-handed bat thirst Noh Si-hwan suddenly has 20 home runs, books best season of his career

Hanwha Eagles’ third baseman Noh Si-hwan hits a double to left field during the sixth inning of the baseball game between the Hanwha Eagles and Samsung Lions at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, South Korea, on July 1.

Hanwha Eagles slugger Noh Shi-hwan has become one of the KBO’s top right-handed hitters with his uncharacteristic performance.

Noh added a home run against Jang Jae-young in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League KIUM Heroes game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on July 25.

Noh, who was previously tied with Choi Jeong (SSG Landers) for the league lead in home runs, became the first player in the 10-team league to hit his 20th home run of the season with the single blast.

After graduating from Gyeongnam High School and making his professional debut in 2019, Noh was highly touted as a possible successor to franchise leader Kim Tae-gyun.

After playing 91 games in his rookie year, Noh gained a professional feel for the game, and in 2020, his sophomore year, he immediately made his mark, hitting double-digit home runs (12).

He remained in the starting lineup in 2021, when the team changed managers under Carlos Suvero, and continued to improve, hitting .271 with 18 home runs.

Noh’s rise has not only excited Hanwha, but also the KBO. Noh’s emergence has been a welcome sight for the league as a whole, as no one seemed to have the talent to succeed Lee Dae-ho, Kim Tae-gyun (retired), Park Byung-ho (KT Wiz), or Choi Yang-ji (Doosan Bears) as right-handed bats.

Last year, Noh’s batting average rose to .281, but his home runs dropped to just six, making him a liability as a slugger. Adding weight to the 100-kilogram range for power proved to be toxic.

Last winter, a desperate Noh dropped his offseason weight to 90 kilograms and shifted his batting point further forward, which resulted in a .471 batting average with five home runs in exhibition games.

The momentum has carried over into the season, and through 25 games, he is having a career-high season by most measures, batting .311 (100-for-322) with 20 homers, 59 RBIs and a .946 OPS.

Noh will attempt to become the club’s third home run champion, joining the two previous home run champions, Jang Jong-hoon (1990-1992) and Kim Tae-kyun (2008).

Choi’s ability to drive in runs is also a challenge, but at least for now, he’s competitive enough.

At his current pace, he could reach 35 or more home runs by the end of the season, and considering Park Byung-ho won the home run title with 35 last year, expectations are high for Noh.

Noh’s performance is also good news for the Hangzhou Asian Games team.

In his first international tournament since his professional debut, Noh will be the centerpiece of a left-handed batting lineup that includes Kang Baek-ho (KT), 카지노사이트 Choi Ji-hoon (SSG), and Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom Heroes).

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