Nearly two months after the start of the 2023 KBO regular season, several teams are far from where experts expected them to be at the start of the season. The Lotte Giants, who are third in the standings after 29 days, or the KT Wiz, who have fallen from the top to the bottom of the standings, are examples of teams that experts were wrong about.
However, there are some teams that have not deviated too far from pre-season expectations. The Samsung Lions, ranked seventh with a 19-25 record and a 0.432 winning percentage, are not far off the experts’ bottom-of-the-table predictions. The team is currently only 2.5 games behind last-place KT, so a losing streak could send them to the bottom of the standings.
Some pessimists are suggesting that Samsung’s future is even bleaker going forward. The team’s heavy reliance on veterans across the lineup has led to a slow development of younger players.
Samsung struggles to find reliable young pitchers in the bullpen. Samsung’s closer is Oh Seung-hwan, who was born in 1982 and is the oldest pitcher entering his age 41 season. Seung-hwan Oh has a 4.22 ERA and 0.830 FIP with poor metrics. His fastball averages just 143.1 mph, so he doesn’t overpower hitters at all. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him retire after this season.
However, none of Samsung’s younger bullpen arms have the closing touch to beat Oh Seung-hwan. Lee Seung-hyun, a third-year pro lefty who was once the closer, has struggled with a 5.87 ERA and a 0.790 OPS.
If Samsung wasn’t nervous enough about its back door, it acquired veteran infielder Lee Won-seok and a 2024 third-round draft pick from the Kiwoom Heroes on April 27 for veteran bullpener Kim Tae-hoon. However, even Kim Tae-hoon, whom Samsung took a chance on bleeding, has been sluggish and hasn’t been reassuring even with a big lead.
In the batting lineup, Samsung hasn’t had a homegrown hitter since Koo Ja-uk, who was born in February 1993 and is now 30 years old. Younger beasts like Kim Ji-chan, Kim Hyun-joon, and Lee Jae-hyun have taken up the mantle, but none of them have proven to be consistent full-time contributors. Their selection for the Hangzhou Asian Games is far from assured.
Even more concerning is the lack of big-hitting prospects at Samsung, which calls the hitter-friendly Daegu Samsung Lions Park home. It’s hard to envision a young slugger taking advantage of the home field advantage and leading the team’s offense with 20+ home runs in the future. 메이저사이트
Samsung has only made the postseason once in seven seasons, from 2016 to last year. After a combined four straight postseason appearances from 2011 to 2014, the dark ages are getting very long. The fallout from the end of the so-called “Samsung dynasty” is severe.
There is a growing consensus that Samsung’s failure to change generations is not just the responsibility of the first-team coaching staff, including the head coach, but also the second-team coaching staff and the entire club front office. There is a lack of clear direction from Samsung regarding player selection and development. It will be interesting to see if Samsung, one of the most prestigious clubs in the KBO, will be able to escape the bottom of the standings through the leap of young players in the future.