It’s rare to see a hitter who can send shivers down your spine with a single swing. The kind of swing where everyone in the stadium knows it’s over the fence when it’s hit. We often refer to such batters as giants.
This was the case for Byun Woo-hyuk (23) of the KIA Tigers against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on April 20. After grounding 꽁머니지급 out and striking out in his previous two at-bats, he faced veteran bullpener Jung Woo-ram (38) with runners on first and second in the top of the sixth inning with KIA leading 3-1. Jung’s hard-hitting fastball turned a three-pitch, zero-strike count into a full count, but Byun remained calm throughout. A low, six-pitch changeup was easily cleared off the left-field foul line. When another changeup landed in a similar spot, Byun lifted his bat without much effort, and the pitch arched over the fence as it glided over the Daejeon Hwa Life Eagles Park. It was the sixth three-run shot of the season with a distance of 120 meters, and it played a crucial role in the 6-4 victory.
Byun went 4-for-4 in June, raising his season batting average to .233. He’s been on a roll since last week. In his last seven games alone, he’s batting .417 with two home runs, five RBIs, a .462 slugging percentage, and a whopping 1.000 on-base percentage. There’s a clear reason for his recent stellar June performance.
“There are two things,” Byun said before the game. First, I tried to be as stress-free and relaxed as possible. Secondly, I felt that my lower body collapsed first because I was trying to make my swing too big. From practice, I tried to push it to the extreme and worked a lot to find my lower body balance, but from last week, I got my timing and lower body balance completely right. After that, I could see the ball well, and as my confidence grew, I was able to fight well with the pitcher.”
Until he was traded from Hanwha to KIA in November last year, he was a ‘nothing’ hitter. Due to several injuries, he wasn’t given many opportunities and couldn’t figure out what pitches he was good at and what he should be hitting. However, at a certain point in his career, he started to get more consistent playing time and gradually started to get a feel for what type of hitter he is.
“I was a backup, not a starter, so I felt like I had to show something every time I went out,” Byun says, “so I was often greedy. For example, I would put the batting point in front of me, but my judgment was too fast. As soon as the pitcher released the ball, I judged the pitch, and I often swung wildly or got hit with the tip of the bat, but I practiced a lot with my hitting coach Lee Bum-ho to keep the same hitting point, but to look at the ball for a little longer, drag it to my point, and hit the ball. Once that started to work, I was able to hit the ball even when the count was against me,” he said.
Consistent playing time helped. For a while, he also used his irregular playing time as an opportunity to let go of his greed. “It’s important to get a lot of at-bats,” Byun said, “but more importantly, you learn through trial and error, such as when your batting cycle goes up and down. “When I first came to KIA, I didn’t really have anything established, so I often lost to pitchers,” he said. “But now I can definitely see that pitchers are being picky with me. When I’m hitting well, I’m picking off a lot of pitches, so I feel like they’re not playing me on purpose,” he smiled.
“I’ve always been a hitter who can go over (the fence) without being greedy. Like last Sunday’s game (4-for-4, two doubles, one home run against the Gwangju NC on Aug. 18), I just saw the ball and thought, ‘I’ll hit it,’ and it went over. It’s not like I don’t have the ability to make contact at all, so I was able to make a long ball even if I just saw it a little bit and hit it.”
Fans hope that Byun Woo-hyuk can fulfill the dream of a right-handed bat that KIA has been craving. However, his dreams, which are just beginning to 메이저사이트 주소 blossom, are a bit more concrete than what the fans want. “Fans will probably expect a lot of long balls from me, but I want to be a home run hitter with contact, not a ballstriker,” Byun said. “I want to raise my batting average as much as possible and keep it up. If I accumulate records over the next three seasons, I think I can outline the batting average I can aim for. If I play enough games while raising my batting average, I think I can hit enough double-digit home runs,” he said.