“He’s been putting up numbers for two years now that are hard to come by. It’s hard to compare him to other domestic pitchers at this point. He is the best in Korea.” (Min Hoon-ki, SPOTV commentator)
Ahn Woo-jin is in his prime. Even with his team, the Kiwoom Heroes, having declared a de facto ‘tanking’, his individual performance is unrivaled. He is considered the No. 0 candidate to follow in the footsteps of Lee Jung-hoo.
However, he has challenged the 42-year history of baseball. He is close to reaching the 200-strikeout milestone for the second consecutive year. It’s a record that even stars like Sun Dong-yeol and Choi Dong-won, who shaped Korean baseball, couldn’t reach.
According to the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on July 31, Ahn struck out the most batters in the league in the month of July. He struck out 33 batters in 26⅓ innings over four games. The second through fifth place finishers were all foreign pitchers.
With more than two months to go until the end of the pennant race, Ahn has already accumulated 146 strikeouts on the season. That’s 10.86 per nine innings. The pace is even faster than last year, when he struck out 224 batters, the second-best single-season total in KBO history.
Mathematically, he only needs 45 more innings to reach 200 strikeouts for the season. It’s not a direct comparison due to the number of games, but only 11 pitchers in KBO history have ever struck out 200 batters in a season, even once. Only three have done it more than once: Sun Dong-yeol (three times), Choi Dong-won (twice), and Ryu Hyun-jin (twice). Even they never did it in two consecutive seasons.
Pitching has also become more stable. After walking 2.53 batters per nine innings last year, Ahn’s walk rate has plummeted to 1.86 this season. Only KT Wiz’s Ko Young-pyo and Doosan Bears’ Raul Alcantara are giving up fewer walks in the league.
Other relevant metrics are also top-notch. Their fielding-independent FIP of 2.05 is first, and their walks per inning allowed (WHIP) is 0.99. The last pitcher with a 0.95 WHIP in regulation innings was Im Chang-yong in 1999, before Ahn himself broke the barrier with a 0.99 WHIP last year.
The end of the first half was a rough patch, as he gave up four or more runs in three games, starting on June 28 against the KIA Tigers. However, the start of the second half saw him return to ‘untouchable mode’ as usual. On June 27, he pitched a perfect game against the Hanwha Eagles, striking out 10 in eight innings.카지노사이트
Taking care of his body is key to another historic season. He pitched nearly 200 innings last year, so he needs to be wary of injuries. If he can reduce the number of innings pitched, that would be great. It might seem like too much to ask. But Ahn has reached a point where he deserves to be recognized.