In the winter of 2021, Son signed a four-year, 6.4 billion won contract (2.6 billion won in down payment, 3 billion won in annual salary, and 800 million won in incentives) with the NC, leaving Jeongden Lotte after 15 years of service. At the signing ceremony, Son said, “I will play fall baseball at Changwon NC Park,” and said, “I am eager for a championship ring and the Korean Series stage. I want to play in the Korean Series,” explaining why he left Lotte.토토사이트
At the time, Lotte was lukewarm about signing the second-year free agent, and while they couldn’t ignore his career and contributions to the team, they didn’t see a lot of promise in him going forward, given that he was in his mid-30s and had seen a clear decline in his pre-hitting stats. In fact, he declined in all of his hitting metrics, including his on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and slugging percentage. He was hitting more ground balls than fly balls, and his run production was not what it used to be.
Sung Min-kyu did not sign franchise star Son As-seob, citing the rationalization of the contract, and Son left for local rival NC. When Sung took over in 2019, he vowed to improve the team from within and began to overhaul a team that was not performing well but had high team salaries. That’s why they were lukewarm about signing Son.
Two years have passed. Lotte declared, “We’re going to play winning baseball now,” and began a major rebuilding program ahead of this season. First, they cracked down on house rabbits by signing Park Se-woong to a five-year, $9 billion non-free agent contract. Then, in the free agent market, they signed Yoo Kang-nam to a four-year, $8 billion contract and Noh Jin-hyuk to a four-year, $5 billion contract. The team then signed Han Hyun-hee for 3+1 years for 4 billion won, releasing 17 billion won in free agency. Add in the 9 billion won for non-free agent Park Se-woong, and Lotte spent 26 billion won on players in the offseason.
Until May, Lotte’s choice seemed to be the right one. Lotte was on its way to the top of the league. This year, however, things started to fall apart in the summer, and the team is now in seventh place, eight games behind fifth-place SSG Landers. They are far from the top five. In fact, it can be said that they are on the verge of failing in fall baseball for the sixth consecutive year. The “Bomde curse” of Lotte only doing well in the spring has continued this year.
NC, on the other hand, has been on a terrific run of late and is in the hunt for second place in the league. NC has won six of their last seven games. They even won the Nakdong River Derby against Lotte 3-1. In particular, Son Ah-seop was outstanding last week. With a weekly batting average of 0.417, he reached 150 hits for the season, marking the eighth consecutive season from 2016 to this year that he has reached the 150-hit mark. This is the first record in the KBO.
This season, Son’s resurgence has led to talk of a “second wind. He batted .326 in June, .327 in July, .337 in August, and .338 in September. As a result, he’s second in the league with a .341 batting average after 11 days. He is competing with SSG Eredia (0.342) and LG Hong Chang-ki (0.339) for the top spot. The batting order could change depending on the performance of each game.
Son is in his late 30s and looking to win his first batting title. However, he says that team performance is more important than individual titles. He wants to play fall baseball and the Korean Series, as he revealed at his NC induction ceremony two years ago. Now, as the captain of the Dinosaurs, Son is on the verge of making it to the fall baseball season. His goal of reaching the Korean Series is also within reach. Son made the right choice two years ago.