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Giants’ Lee Jung Hoo Channels Ichiro in MLB Debut: A Rising Star in the Making

Daniel Kim Views  

(샌프란시스코 중견수 이정후)
(San Francisco’s center fielder, Lee Jung Hoo)

San Francisco Giants’ Lee Jung Hoo has made his second consecutive appearance as the third batter since his Major League debut. The local American commentators introduced Lee as the Korean Ichiro, to which Lee responded with his skills.

On the 18th (Korean time), Lee started as a center fielder and the third batter in an away game against Miami at Miami’s LoanDepot Park in Florida. His shift to the heart of the lineup can be attributed to his recent surge in hits, including an eight-game hitting streak.

In the first inning, with no outs, Lee faced Miami’s starting left-handed pitcher Trevor Rogers (27). At a 2-2 count, he hit a 93.9 mph (about 151 kph) fastball but was out on a ground ball to third base. The exit velocity of the hit was slower than the pitch speed at 78.9 mph (about 127 kph), indicating a weakly hit ball.

His second at-bat came in the top of the fourth inning. As the leadoff batter, Lee had a close battle against Rogers, going to a total count of 3-2, but was struck out swinging on a 91.9 mph (about 148 kph) sinker.

The local U.S. commentators covering the Miami game introduced Lee as the Korean Ichiro when he came up to bat for the second time, likening him to the Japanese baseball genius Suzuki Ichiro (51). The commentators continued, “The way Lee prepares for his at-bat, the look in his eyes as he faces the pitcher, and his form are very similar to Ichiro’s active days.” However, Lee was struck out, unlike Ichiro’s trademark hits.

(시애틀 시절의 스즈키 이치로)
(Suzuki Ichiro during his Seattle days)

Ichiro, who made his Major League debut in 2001, caused a sensation that April with a batting average of .336, 2 home runs, 11 RBIs, and 5 steals. By the end of the season, he had recorded a .350 average, 8 home runs, 69 RBIs, and 56 steals. Ichiro swept both the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in 2001.

Lee’s third at-bat came in the top of the sixth inning, with two outs and a runner on first. Fortunately, Lee faced Rogers at a 2-2 count and lightly hit an 83.3 mph (about 134 kph) slider. The weak ball rolled in front of Miami’s shortstop Tim Anderson (31). Anderson could have easily thrown Lee out at first after fielding the ball, but he was too busy looking at the runner advancing to second to throw the ball anywhere. It ended up being an infield hit accompanied by a fielding error.

Having reached first base, Lee advanced to second on the following batter Jorge Soler’s (32) walk, but Lee was stranded there as no further hits or walks came, failing to score.

His fourth at-bat came in the top of the eighth inning. With no outs, Lee faced a new pitcher, Anthony Bender (29). At a 2-1 count, he lightly hit an 84.3 mph (about 136 kph) sweeper, resulting in a clean hit that fell in front of the left fielder. It was his second hit of the game.

Lee, who recorded 2 hits in 4 at-bats in the game, is currently posting a .270 average, 1 home run, 5 RBIs, and 2 steals this season. His OPS, the sum of his on-base percentage and slugging percentage, is a slightly disappointing .638. However, it’s encouraging that he achieved his sixth multi-hit game of the season and his second in three days. It can be interpreted as a sign that he’s improving as the season progresses.

San Francisco, powered by Lee’s multi-hit game, defeated Miami 3-1.

Photos = MHN Sports DB, provided by the San Francisco team’s PR team

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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