This story from Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports that infielder Hwang Jae-gyun wishes to be posted to play in Major League Baseball.
Hwang hit .290/.350/.521 with 26 homers and 97 RBI in 144 games for the Lotte Giants this year. For his career he has a line of .280/.343/.417 in nine seasons. The third baseman/shortstop turned 28 over the summer.
How that translates to the majors is tough to say. KBO has a reputation for being a heavy offense league which inflates numbers. Our most recent point of comparison, of course, is Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang, who is three months older than Hwang. He hit .298/.383/.504 in nine KBO seasons, with his peak season coming in 2014 when he hit an amazing .356/.439/.739 with 40 homers in only 117 games. Despite those gaudy totals, from a projection perspective, evaluators figured he’d be a fairly useful MLB bench player at best, primarily because of his defensive value and some occasional pop. He ended up getting 467 plate appearances for the Pirates and exceeding everyone’s expectations by hitting .287/.355/.461 with 15 homers before having his season ended by injury.
In reality, the small handful of players who played in both the majors and KBO is no basis for solid projections (a washed-up Luke Scott of all people hit pretty well in the KBO before being kicked off his team). But given Hwang’s apparent defensive versatility, his age and the recent good experience the Pirates had with Kang, it would not be surprising to see him in the bigs next season.
And if he does make it and hits some homers, be prepared for some more grousing about Respecting the Game:
I, for one, can’t wait.