10-homer OPS of 1.119 in the second half, ‘snowballing’ OK… Na’s bat is hot
The KIA Tigers faced an unexpected twist before the start of the season. Starting outfielder Na Sung-bum was ruled out of the opening game with a left calf injury. After feeling discomfort since the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, he didn’t appear in any of the exhibition games, and his name wasn’t on the roster to open the regular season.
There was some speculation that he could return in April, but his recovery was slow. In early April, he underwent a second opinion and was diagnosed with a calf muscle strain. At the time, the KIA team said that he would be sidelined for four weeks, and it was expected that it would take up to eight weeks for him to return. This meant a huge gap in both offense and defense.
In the end, KIA went 28-1-33 (0.459) in 62 games without Na, finishing in eighth place. The remaining players on the team tried to do their best, but the reality is that there was no one who could fill the void left by Na Sung-bum. The team had to wait for him to return sooner rather than later.
Finally, on June 20, Na made his first appearance in a Futures League game against the Lotte Giants, and after playing three games, he was immediately called up to the first team. On June 23 against the KT Wiz, he marked his return with a home run in a home game.
After adjusting his hitting before the All-Star break, Na started to heat up in late July and began to pile up the hits. Starting on July 29 against the Gwangju Lotte Giants, he went on a nine-game hitting streak, with more days with a hit than no hits.
This month, Na’s hitting reached its peak. In a nine-game stretch from the Incheon SSG Landers on the 1st to the Gwangju LG Twins on the 10th, he went 31-for-15 with a .484 batting average, four home runs, and 14 RBIs, including six multi-hit games. Even if you expand the scope to the second half of the season, Na has exceeded expectations with a .379 batting average with 53 hits in 140 at-bats, 10 home runs, 38 RBI, and a 1.119 OPS in 38 games.메이저사이트
Another thing that stands out is that he has more walks (24) than strikeouts (22) in the second half. That means he’s making accurate contact, punching, and even playing “eye ball” to keep pitchers on their toes. That’s why KIA has been waiting for him for so long.
During the game against LG on Tuesday, Na felt pain in his left pinky toe after being hit by a foul ball, and was immediately replaced by Choi Won-jun after two at-bats. It was a heartbreaking moment for both the team and the player. Fortunately, the injury was diagnosed as a simple bruise, and Na Sung-bum was able to stay in the lineup and start a new week. As the team heads into the remainder of their schedule, it will be interesting to see if Na’s hot bat can keep KIA on the rise.