The race for the 2023 KBO League Rookie of the Year is a two-horse race between second-year right-handed fireballer Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles) and left-handed rookie finesse pitcher Yoon Young-chul (KIA Tigers).
The two pitchers faced off in Gwangju on April 27. Moon lasted five innings, but gave up five runs. With the score tied at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth, he gave up back-to-back singles to Kim Do-young and Na Sung-beom, and with the bases loaded, gave up a single to left-center to Choi Hyung-woo. The runner in scoring position also crossed home plate. Yoon gave up two runs on two hits (one home run) and four walks in four innings. It was his most strikeouts in a game since April 15 against the Gochuk Kiwoom Heroes in his debut.
It’s hard to evaluate the performance of both players in this game. However, Moon Dong-ju gave up a lot of runs, which changed the tide of the rookie championship.
After his next start, Moon will not pitch another regular season game. It”s long since been established that he”ll be limited to 120-130 innings. This is to protect his arm. Moon will be making his first international appearance since turning pro when he is selected to pitch for the Korean National Baseball Team at the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) in late September. Hanwha says it has even considered the number of innings he will pitch in the tournament.
Until last week, Moon had appeared in 22 games and pitched 114 and one-third innings, posting an 8-8 record with a 3.62 ERA. Reaching double-digit wins is virtually impossible. His current performance is good enough to challenge for Rookie of the Year. Lee Yi-ri (KIA), the 2021 winner, also went 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA in 19 games with 94 and two-thirds innings pitched.
Lee was virtually a one-man show. Moon Dong-ju, on the other hand, has competition. Yoon has pitched in 19 games (93 innings) as of the 28th, going 7-5 with a 4.06 ERA. He pitched three fewer games than Moon due to external variables such as rain delays.
Moon’s next start will likely be against the LG Twins on April 2. If he gets a quality start (6+ innings and 3 or fewer earned runs) and wins, he’ll have a 9-1 record with a 3.67 ERA.
For the record, Yoon Young-chul has a chance to turn things around. With KIA having played 18 games without a rainout, he has no choice but to stay in the rotation until the end of the regular season. At least six or seven more games.
More opportunities could be a poison. But based on his current winning percentage (.583), he should win at least 10 games. Of course, he’s making his first full-time start, which should be taken into account as a declining factor.
If Yoon wins more than 10 games and has a three-to-one ERA, he’ll pass Moon in the record books. However, MVP and Rookie of the Year voting is not just about stats, but also about buzz, impact, scarcity of records, and team contributions.
Moon shook up the league in the first half with his fastball. Pitchers with fastballs in the high 160 km/h range were once the preserve of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Yoon Young-cheol, a finesse pitcher, continued to pitch steadily from year to year with his accurate delivery, hittable deception, and controlled delivery. These types of pitches don’t tend to draw attention to themselves.스포츠토토
But Yoon has a powerful weapon. If he can lead his team to the postseason (PS), he can overshadow Moon Dong-joo’s hype. KIA is currently in fifth place. They are in contention with the Doosan Bears. The role of the starting pitcher will be more important for the rest of the season, and Yoon could prove his worth in the climax of the standings race.
From 2017, when Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) won, to 2021, when Lee Yi-ri won, the Rookie of the Year race was dominated by pure rookies. It was also a monopoly. This season, younger pitchers are in contention. It will be interesting to see who will win the once-in-a-lifetime rookie award.