The Hanwha Eagles have finished the 2023 season in the bottom half of the table.
Hanwha finished the season in ninth place in the league (58 wins, 6 draws and 80 losses – a winning percentage of 0.420) with a home game against the Lotte Giants on April 16. It’s encouraging to see the team return to winning percentages in four years and escape last place.
Hanwha finished last for three years in a row from 2020 to 2022, and the last two years they were the only one of the 10 clubs with a triple-digit win percentage.
On the field, the team has certainly shown signs of life. From June 21 against the KIA Tigers to July 1 against the Samsung Lions, the team won eight straight games for the first time in 18 years, thrilling fans.안전놀이터
At the end of the first half, they were still in eighth place (34 wins, 40 losses, 4 ties, and a .459 winning percentage), but only 2.5 games behind the fifth-place team and 3.5 games behind the fourth-place team, making them a dark horse to shake up the middle of the pack.
But after the All-Star break, the Eagles’ wings were clipped. Over the second half of the season, the team went 24-40-2 and their winning percentage plummeted to .375. This was largely due to the fact that the 3-5 batting order, which had been the centerpiece of the offense, fell from .275 in the first half (5th in the league) to .227 in the second half (10th in the league).
Off-season free agent signing Chae Eun-sung has been in a hitting slump, and foreign hitter Nick Williams hasn’t lived up to expectations all season. As a whole, the Hanwha offense ranked 10th in batting average (0.241) and 10th in slugging percentage (0.240) this year.
On the mound, the team was relatively uneventful, ranking seventh in ERA (4.38) and fifth in batting average (0.261). In the second half of the year, he struggled, finishing ninth in ERA (4.97) and seventh in batting average (0.276).
Still, Choi Won-ho’s plan to establish pitching positions such as closer and chaser after the firing of former manager Carlos Suvero in May seems to have worked to some extent.
Unlike the batting lineup, foreign pitchers such as Felix Peña (11 wins and 11 losses in 32 games with a 3.60 ERA) and Ricardo Sanchez (7 wins and 8 losses with a 3.79 ERA) also performed well.
The emergence of two-hit icons Noh Si-hwan and Moon Dong-joo is also encouraging. Noh is batting .298 (153-for-514) with 31 home runs, 101 RBIs, and 85 runs scored in 131 games, leading the league in home runs and RBIs. At this rate, Noh will become the third Hanwha player in history to win the home run title, joining Jang Jong-hoon (1990-1992) and Kim Tae-kyun (2008). It’s also the first time in 20 years that a player under the age of 22 has hit 30 home runs in a season since Kim Tae-gyun (Hanwha) in 2003.
Second-year pitcher Moon Dong-ju became the first Korean pitcher to break the 160 kilometers per hour barrier, going 8-8 with a 3.72 ERA in 23 games. In the final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games, he pitched a six-inning no-hitter.
Now that Hanwha has broken through, the team will need a strong batting performance if they want to reach higher.