Sad ending for KIA’s 28-year-old specialist shortstop? Shortstop WAR drops to 2nd, GG Yellow Bull ‘hates injuries’
Is this the end?
Kia’s top shortstop Park Chan-ho (28) suffered another unexpected injury. In the bottom of the fifth inning of the second game of the Suwon doubleheader against KT on April 4, trailing 2-3 and with the bases loaded, a 148-kilometer fastball from KT right-hander Lee Sun-woo hit him in the left arm. Medical examination revealed a comminuted fracture of the left ulna.
There are 10 games left until the end of the regular season. At this point, even a one- to two-week layoff is out of the question. If the results of the five-day cross-check don’t change, Park’s season is likely over. In 130 games this season, Park is batting .301 with 136 hits in 452 at-bats, three home runs, 52 RBI, 73 runs scored, 30 doubles, a .734 OPS, and a .355 slugging percentage.
Park boldly declared his candidacy for the Golden Glove at shortstop in Arizona’s spring training in February. Over the past year, he opened his eyes to hitting and decided that he was good enough to tell others about his goals. This season, he became one of the best shortstops in the KBO.
His defense may have lacked flair in certain areas, but he’s gotten more reliable as he’s played more games. His 1.042 WAA ranks third in the league, according to Baseball-Reference.com. His 4.17 WAR is 21st in the league and second among shortstops.
After leading the league for most of the season, he dropped to second. The leader in shortstop WAR through five days is LG Oh Ji-hwan with 4.25. In 119 games this year, Oh has hit .272 with 8 home runs, 61 RBI, 64 runs scored, an OPS of .777, and a slugging percentage of .300. His offensive production is down a bit from last year, when he hit 25 home runs, but his overall performance is not a drop-off. His contribution to the team is still high.
The shortstop Golden Glove race is going to be a mess if Chan Ho Park continues to play like this. Park’s troubles began on Sept. 12 when he tore a ligament in his left fourth finger while head-first sliding into first base after hitting a triple against Daegu Samsung Electronics. He was out of the lineup for two weeks. In the meantime, Oh Ji-hwan was catching up and his WAR numbers started to rise.캡틴토토
It’s no laughing matter for Park Chan-ho, who has had a stellar season in the offense. Kia’s postseason hopes are still up in the air, and the team has been plagued by injuries this year. His wrist has been bothering him since the Arizona camp, and he hasn’t been able to take as much batting practice as in previous years.
He shook it off and proved his mettle, but in the end, it was an injury-riddled season. The finger ligament injury was partly his own fault for making a head-first slide to first base, but the forearm hit in Game 4 was downright bad luck.
The 2023 season started with an injury and threatened to end with one. Still, when healthy, Chan Ho Park has shown that he has the potential to be one of the best shortstops in the league, and possibly even a Gold Glove shortstop.