The expression ‘there is no gap for water to leak’ seems to fit perfectly.
The professional baseball Lotte Giants are raising their hopes of advancing to fall baseball based on their unshakable ‘iron wall defense’ both in and outfield this season. Lotte recorded the fewest errors among the 10 clubs at the beginning of this season, showing a more solid appearance in defense.
Lotte achieved 2 consecutive winning series by winning 2 wins and 1 loss in 6 consecutive matches against Doosan Bears and KT Wiz from the 9th to the 13th. Foreign starting pitchers Dan Strayley (1 win), Charlie Barnes (1 win), and Han Hyun-hee (3 wins) all won quality starts and announced a revival. In the match against Doosan on the 11th, Noh Jin-hyeok’s finishing double at the end of the 10th inning brought a pleasant reversal victory.
Lotte, with an odds ratio of 0.633 as of the 15th, has a win rate of over 0.600 alongside SSG Landers (0.657) and LG Twins (0.629), forming a top-three composition.
One of the driving forces for Lotte to overcome the stigma of ‘Bomde’ and run at the top this season is the strengthened infield defense. Lotte, which has played 30 games this season, is recording the fewest 14 errors among 10 clubs along with Samsung Lions. It is 24 fewer than NC Dinos (34 games, 38), which is the number one error, and shows a gap with the KIA Tigers (31 games, 22), which are in 8th place. 안전놀이터
The center of Lotte’s infield defense is held by captains Ahn Chi-hong (32) and Noh Jin-hyeok (33), who are the ‘keystone combination’. Ahn Chi-Hong and Noh Jin-Hyuk lighten the shoulders of the pitchers with tight defense at the second baseman and shortstop positions. The two players are contributing to the team’s victory by creating double blows with quick catches and throws even in the team’s crisis situation.
Ahn Chi-hong saved the team by blowing away the ball that could have escaped 1st and 2nd base in the crisis of losing 2nd and 3rd base in the 3rd inning of the game against KT on the 13th. Noh Jin-hyeok is also showing brilliant defense by catching a ball that went deep toward the third base in the fifth inning of the next day and forcing the runner on second to force out.
Third baseman Han Dong-hee (23) is also responsible for Lotte’s ‘hot corner’ with a more stable defense this season. After the end of last season, Han Dong-hee devoted himself to defensive training in the team’s finishing camp and spring camp, sweating a lot to establish himself as the team’s starting third baseman. In particular, during the spring camp, he raised his senses by conducting hundreds of infield defense fungo drills every day with First Team defensive coach Moon Kyu-hyun and Futures defensive coach Kim Dong-han. Han Dong-hee, who regained confidence in the defense, returned to the top of the batting line with his offensive power revived in May.
Koh Seung-min (22), who changed his position from an outfielder to a first baseman, is also showing stable performance through repeated matches. At the beginning of the season, Ko Seung-min had a scene where he could not adapt to the first base defense, but he grew into a key player in the infield defense along with No Jin-hyuk, An Chi-hong, and Han Dong-hee.
In addition to them, Park Seung-wook (30) and Kim Min-soo (24) play multi-player roles in all positions in the infield, adding strength to the defense.
Lotte coach also showed great satisfaction with the hardened infield defense. Coach Sutton said, “One of the driving forces for the team’s consistently good performance is the solid infield defense.”