“I’m still not good enough to surpass Lee Kang-cheol.”
Yang Hyeon-jong (35), the 168-win pitcher of the KIA Tigers, has criticized himself despite achieving the feat of exceeding 170 innings for the ninth consecutive year. His rigorous self-criticism is what makes him the pitcher he is today. He was grateful, apologetic, and generous with his teammates, but relentless with himself.
Yang pitched seven innings of five-hit ball with four strikeouts and one run against the Gwangju NC Dinos on April 16. He finished the season with 171 innings pitched, his ninth consecutive 170-inning season dating back to 2014. His final record for the season was 9-11 with a 3.58 ERA in 29 games, a 1.34 WHIP in 14 quality starts, and a .272 batting average.
It’s a mediocre performance for a big league pitcher, but it’s actually not that bad. After struggling through the middle of the season, he had a very good September and October. In nine games, he went 3-4 with a 2.16 ERA. He found his sharpness. His fastball sits in the low 140s, and his changeup, slider, and curve have regained their sharpness.
However, Yang said he was disappointed with both his individual and team performance. “I finished well, but I’m more disappointed. I set several personal records this season, but the team didn’t play fall baseball. I was disappointed with the sixth place finish. It’s been tough, but it’s my job to be on the mound and throw the ball.”메이저사이트
He aims to pitch 170 innings every season, but he also takes some of the blame for the team’s lack of postseason success. Yang said, “2023 was a season that was too short. It’s a failed season. I need to get my act together. It doesn’t matter if I perform really well if the team doesn’t win. On the contrary, if I throw a little badly, it’s okay if the team plays fall baseball. It hurts this year.”
In fact, Yang’s “real” goal this season was not just 170 innings for the ninth straight year, but 10 wins and 170 innings for the ninth straight year. Ten consecutive years of double-digit wins is a true record, held by KT manager Lee Kang-cheol from 1989 to 1998. However, the team hasn’t been able to surpass Lee in this regard, as they’ve won just nine games this season, mostly due to sluggishness or bad luck.
Yang Hyun-jong said, “I was happy to win eight games, but it’s a shame that I couldn’t win 10 games after winning nine. My goal was to break Lee’s records one by one, but it’s a shame that I couldn’t achieve one. I’m still not good enough to surpass him,” he said.
Yang has already surpassed Lee in innings pitched, strikeouts, and wins. In other words, if Yang had achieved 10 wins and 170 innings this year, he would have set a record of 10 wins and 170 innings for nine consecutive years, which Lee also failed to do. Then, next year, he could challenge for 10 wins and 170 innings for 10 consecutive years, and be recognized as more consistent than Lee, but he failed.
Of course, no one considers Yang Hyun-jong to be less than Lee Kang-chul because he didn’t do this. In fact, there were quite a few games this season where Yang pitched well and didn’t get much offensive support. In fact, there have been a number of games this season where Yang has pitched well but hasn’t gotten much offense.
And he’s already been called “synonymous with steadiness” as much as Lee Kang-chul. Yang Hyun-jong’s own regret is that he has a high level of goal consciousness, and he has been running while coldly whipping himself. He is a great pitcher because he has this mindset.
Yang’s four-year, 10.3 billion won contract with Kia has turned a corner. “In terms of innings, I don’t want to be second to anyone. 170 innings is what I need to do every year,” he said. He’s determined to reach at least 170 innings in 2024.