“This is a great sniper”
SPOTV commentator Lee Dae-hyung and the Spotify Baseball crew let out a series of exclamations while commentating on the game between LG and Lotte at Jamsil Stadium on May 25. Austin was batting in the bottom of the fifth inning with Lotte leading 3-1. First baseman Moon Sung-joo ran for second base, but Lotte’s young catcher Son Seong-bin (21) made a literal laser-like catch.
Lee is a base-running legend who is a member of the KBO’s all-time “Dae-do lineage” with 505 career stolen bases. His ability to analyze runners’ movements, pitchers’ slide-steps and pitching habits, and evaluate catchers’ throwing ability comes from his experience of stealing many bases during his career. However, Lee’s jaw dropped when he saw one of Son’s pitches. The pitch was shocking.
It was after the second inning, but there was a runner on third base. If the catcher threw the ball to second base, the runner on third base would be able to run home. Normally, many catchers would hesitate to throw to second base in this situation. But Son was confident. Without even looking at the runner at third, he threw the ball decisively. It flew like a bullet and landed right between the base and the sliding runner, creating an automatic tag. LG’s offense ended with that one snipe.
According to Trackman, which provides tracking data to all nine KBO clubs, every element of the stolen base jersey was shocking, with a level of perfection that is hard to find in a 21-year-old catcher. There were reasons why this committee member, and everyone else who watched the game, was stunned.
First of all, the speed of the throw. Of course, the course and stance were rather easy to throw, but this throw was clocked at 138.3 kilometers per hour. The average speed of a catcher’s throw on Trackman’s radar in all stadiums except Gwangju is 123.7 kilometers per hour. That’s a whopping 14.6 kilometers faster than the league average. A natural talent.
It’s not just his shoulder. His changeup time, the time between throwing and receiving, was also better than the league average. Son Sung-bin had an exchange time of 0.69 seconds. The KBO league average this year is 0.77 seconds. This means that his body is also fast.
His total pop time, which is the sum of his throwing speed and exchange time, was measured at 1.82 seconds. That’s 0.26 seconds faster than the league average of 2.08 seconds. Assuming a pitcher’s slide-step is average and there are no unusual factors involved in the tag, a pitch with a pop time of 1.82 seconds is hard to live with, even for the fastest runners. Son Sung-bin is a catcher with that kind of talent.
“It’s ridiculous speed. It’s hard to find even in the major leagues,” and judging by the records, he was right. Even in the major leagues, which are two levels above us, 1.82-second pop times are not common. J.T. Realmuto, one of the best catchers in the league, is averaging 1.82 seconds this year. Only eight catchers have averages in the 1.9-second range.
The fastest catchers in the majors are typically between 0.57 and 0.6 seconds in changeup time. Sung-bin Son is a catcher who still has a lot to work on, so this is something that can be improved with consistent and repetitive training. His shoulder still has the potential to be one of the best in the majors. The average fastball velocity among catchers this year is 137.1 mph. We don’t have a lot of first-team data yet, but Sung-bin Son is averaging between 134 and 135 mph.
It’s hard to think of a stolen base jersey in the history of Trackman that combines all of these elements. To use a bit of hyperbole, this is a stolen base jersey that will go down in KBO history. If this isn’t just a one-off, but a steady stream of samples with no major ups and downs, we could be looking at the greatest stolen base jersey in KBO catcher history.
Expectations were high to begin with. He graduated from Chang’an High School and was Lotte’s first round pick in 2021. Lotte categorized Son as a strategic prospect and allowed him to clear his military service early. He enlisted in the Korean Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Commerce) ahead of the 2022 season and was recently discharged, joining the first team roster on June 15.안전놀이터
While he still needs experience, he has the talent to be a big hitter both offensively and defensively. In 29 games in the Futures League this year, he showed off his bat with a .330 batting average and 24 RBIs. Lotte signed Yoo Kang-nam ahead of this season for a total of 8 billion won ($8 million) over four years to solve their catcher problem, and Son Sung-bin is the man to take over for the next four years. It’s a great start for him to showcase his obvious strengths in front of a huge crowd.