‘It was a bitter pill to swallow,’
We were forced to rebuild and overhaul our roster. In the process, they had to grit their teeth and endure a period of pain. Everyone said it was a foggy future, but when the fog cleared, a bright future awaited the NC Dinos.
NC lost the fifth game of the playoffs against KT Wiz 2-3 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, South Korea. This was the third straight loss for the Dinos, who failed to advance to the Korean Series despite clinching two playoff games.
Returning to fall baseball after a three-year hiatus with a fourth-place finish in the regular season, NC raced to the second round of the playoffs in a frenzy. The team dominated the fall baseball scene with the appearance of a crazy player in every game. 카지노사이트 They went on a six-game winning streak in the postseason, including the wild-card decider against Doosan (Game 1), the semifinals against SSG (Game 3), and the playoffs against KT (Game 2). Starting with Game 4 of the 2020 Korean Series, the Tigers have won nine straight postseason games. This tied the Hattae Tigers’ longest postseason winning streak from 1987 to 1988. It was a reign of fall baseball that rivaled the best dynasties in league history.
After winning the 2020 championship, the NC voluntarily overhauled its roster.
The team tried to build a pitching staff centered on young guns while sending out pitchers who could still be considered healthy, such as Lim Chang-min (Kiwoom) and Kim Jin-sung (LG), who have been the core of the bullpen since the club’s inception and were the main players in the unified championship.
The pace of rebuilding and reorganization was also rapid in Yasujin. The reorganization of the outfield was more voluntary. There were variables in the free agency market. After the 2021 season, the team lost Na Sung-bum, who was likely to remain a franchise star in free agency, to an aggressive bet (6 years, 15 billion won) by his hometown team, KIA. Despite losing their franchise star, they minimized the gap by signing Son As-seop (4 years, 6.4 billion won) and Park Geon-woo (6 years, 10 billion won), two of the best contact players in the league.
Then, after the 2022 season, the Exodus began.
They had seven internal free agents. They had to be selective and focused, but eventually had to let go of three players. The first priority was to retain Anbang-manim Yang-ji, who had to let go of the active courtship of his hometown team, Doosan. Yang returned to Doosan for 4+2 years and 15.2 billion won. Noh Jin-hyuk, a center fielder and long-hitting infielder, followed suit with a four-year, 5 billion won offer from Lotte. Won Jong-hyun, a free agent signing with Kiwoom for four years and 2.5 billion won, was not a priority in the negotiations, but the team still lost a championship closer. The move was an extension of the bullpen overhaul and rebuilding, but the bleeding was severe.
It was the first year of a full-time contract for manager Kang Kwon-ho, who led the team to a top-five finish last year as acting manager, but the rebuilding process has left the team with a lot of question marks. The team replaced all three of its foreign players, including the departure of ace Drew Luchinski, who won 53 games in four years. NC was picked to finish last this year. The players disagreed, but the outside world did. It was an unknown squad and a foggy season. However, the team gritted their teeth and reorganized the squad, even if it was against their will, and the results were what everyone hoped for. When the fog cleared, NC confirmed that they have a bright future for the next decade or so.
For starters, foreign ace Luchinski’s shoes were more than adequately filled by Eric Peddy, who went on to win the Triple Crown with 20 wins, 209 strikeouts, and a 2.00 ERA. Although he was limited to just one start due to postseason shoulder fatigue, Peddy’s presence helped NC continue its fall baseball run.
The pitching staff was also completely reorganized.
The left-handed fireballer duo of Ryu Jin-wook (22 holds) and Kim Young-gyu (24 holds) became a 20-hold duo and became a must-win group. Kim won a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games and received a special exemption from military service. The top of the lineup was solid.
In the infield, Kim Joo-won hit double-digit home runs for the second straight year and established himself as the league’s best shortstop after the gold medal in Hangzhou. He led the league in errors in the regular season with 30, but found stability on defense in the postseason, not committing a single error.
Kim Joo-won can play all over the infield, and Seo Ho-cheol, the 2021 Futures League batting champion, has settled into a solid role at third base this year.
Most importantly, the team was worried about the loss of Yang Ji. After Yang Ji’s departure, the team signed Park Se-hyuk for 4.6 billion won ($4.6 million) in free agency, but his first year was a bit disappointing. However, Kim Hyung-jun, dubbed the “post-Yang-ji,” was called up at the end of August to fill in at first base. He grew into the role of catcher at the Asian Games and made the leap to first base by starting every game of the postseason.
Fall baseball reaffirmed that NC’s future is bright.
The power in the fog has given us confidence in an otherwise unclear future, and a sense of anticipation that we can build on a solid foundation to reach even greater heights in the future. This year’s fall baseball is a starting point.
Of course, the team is far from perfect, and there are still things to work on. Homegrown ace Koo Chang-mo hasn’t been able to escape the Injury Pron. Injuries are now a constant, not a variable. While the postseason showed the growth of Shin Min-hyuk as a starting pitcher, the problem of homegrown talent continued throughout the season and needs to be addressed. “I think we need to discover and nurture domestic starters,” Kang said. The fall training will be centered on that,” said Kang.
“We were underestimated before the season, but we showed our passion with one mind and one heart. I’m disappointed with the end, but I think we played well. I think it was a happy journey and a beautiful challenge for a season,” concluded Kang. NC’s challenge is not over yet.