Moon Dong-ju (20, Hanwha) will soon end his season. Naturally, Yoon Young-chul (19, KIA) will have a chance to take over the Rookie of the Year race.
Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho announced before the Gwangju KIA game on May 25 that Moon will finish the 2023 season on June 2 against Jamsil LG. Moon Dong-ju pitched five more innings against KIA in Gwangju on Sunday, bringing his season total to 114⅓ innings. He is close to reaching his pre-season goal of 120 innings.
Moon fell to 8-8 on the season with five innings of five-hit ball, three walks, two strikeouts, and five runs. His ERA was 3.62. In the end, he failed to win 10 games in his second year as a rookie and first season as an actual full-time starter. He challenges Yoo Jong-mi next month on April 2. Up to nine wins, an ERA in the mid-3s, around 120 innings, and around 100 strikeouts (currently 93K) are the final specs for Moon this season.
It’s interesting to note that while Moon is far ahead in the Rookie of the Year race, he’s not a lock for the top spot. There’s still about a month and a half left in the regular season. At worst, Moon could lose the Rookie of the Year title depending on the performance of his chasers. Hanwha decided that health and longevity were more important than rookie of the year honors for Moon. This choice should be respected.
At this point, the top contender in the Rookie of the Year race is Yoon Young-cheol. Yoon faced Moon in a game on the 27th, and the result was a no-decision after four innings of two hits (one home run), four walks, and two runs (one earned). I wouldn’t even call it a decision. It’s not like a starter can only go four innings.
Yoon is 7-5 with a 4.06 ERA in 19 games this season. He has a .263 batting average and a 1.39 WHIP. Six quality starts. Based on his performance so far, he’s a close second to Moon. However, while Moon’s season is coming to an end, Yoon’s season is complete. He wasn’t even selected for the Hangzhou Asian Games team. He could challenge for the Rookie of the Year race if he pushes for a top-five finish.
The key will be if Yoon can elevate his game. He hasn’t pitched five innings in three straight games and his velocity has dropped off a bit again. He should be applauded for staying healthy and being in the rotation as a fifth starter.
However, in absolute terms, Yoon needs to continue to improve. He works hard, too. There’s no doubt he’s thinking about restraints. When we met briefly in Busan in the middle of this month, he understood the need to delay his hand separation time from the glove as much as possible, as advised by SBS Sports commentator Lee Sun-cheol, and to hone his curveball, as advised by KBS N Sports commentator Yoo Hee-kwan. Although he rarely throws curves in practice, he continues to practice them off the field. They have also been working on the unique motion of stepping on the pitching plate and bouncing their lower body twice. This is to prepare for the introduction of pitch clocks.
Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho, an expert in pitching theory, believes that in modern baseball, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the finesse pitcher to survive. Hitters’ hitting skills and power are constantly improving. Pitchers with fastballs that can overwhelm hitters will not be able to break down as long as they consistently put them in the strike zone.
On that note, the future of Young-Cheol Yoon is also quite intriguing. He’s got a lot of smarts for a high school freshman. Most importantly, he never loses his smile, even when things aren’t going well. This shows that he is mentally strong and has a relaxed mindset.안전놀이터
If Yoon can see the positive results of his hard work in the rest of the season, there is definitely a chance that he can reverse the Rookie of the Year race. Kia hasn’t had a rookie champion in 36 years, from Lee Sun-cheol in 1985 to Lee Yi-ri in 2021. Yoon Young-cheol will become the third KIA Rookie of the Year in two years after Lee Yi-ri. Of course, more important than the Rookie of the Year is the long run. I don’t necessarily care about the Rookie of the Year either. However, being the Rookie of the Year definitely has its own pride and confidence-boosting effect. There is no reason to turn a blind eye to the second-place candidate when the first-place candidate ends the season early.