Hitting is a passing point. But the defense was disappointing.
The Hanwha Eagles lost all three games after the start of the 2023 season. All 3 matches were disappointing defeats by 1 point. Among the 10 clubs, Hanwha is the only team that has yet to report its first win. Again this year, we started the season at the bottom of the leaderboard.
Chae Eun-seong, who had gathered expectations by signing a free agent 안전놀이터contract for a total of 9 billion won (down payment 3.6 billion won, annual salary 4.4 billion won, and option 1 billion won) in the last 6 years in Stove League, clearly showed off his offensive power in 3 games. On the first day, which was the opening game, he appeared as a third batter against Kiwoom Heroes and went 0-for-5, but the next day he appeared as a fourth batter and led the team’s attack with 3 hits and 3 RBIs in 4 at bats. In the game against Samsung on the 4th, he recorded 2 hits in 3 at-bats and 1 point in 2 consecutive games.
The role of a veteran hitter who will lead the center batting line lived up to expectations, but as an outfielder, the defensive power was disappointing. Although he has no errors recorded yet, he committed crucial errors in two games in which he appeared in right field.
In the match against Kiwoom on the 2nd, at the end of the 8th inning with a lead of 6-4, Lee Yong-gyu’s hit was missed and the triple was dedicated. It wasn’t an easy batting ball, but his batting judgment was disappointing. In the process of chasing the ball, he hesitated for a moment and tried sliding at the end, but the ball hit the glove and fell. In the end, runner Lee Yong-gyu, who reached third base, stepped on home when Kim Hye-sung doubled and tied the score, and Hanwha suffered a come-from-behind loss in the ninth inning.
On the 4th, against the Samsung Lions, Chae Eun-seong showed a disappointing defense. In the situation of 2 out 2nd and 3rd base leading 3-1 in the 3rd inning, Oh Jae-il’s one-bound ball hit Chae Eun-seong’s body and bounced forward while both runners stepped on the home and tied the score. Even if it was not possible to handle it as a no-bound, if the catch was successful after one bounce, a tie might not have been allowed considering Chae Eun-seong’s strong shoulder and second base runner Kang Min-ho’s slow feet.
The two mistakes are all the more painful in that they allowed an excuse for a tie in a situation where they were both leading, and in the end, they suffered a reverse defeat by 1 point.
Chae Eun-seong, who was a third baseman at the time of joining the LG Twins, became a catcher and first baseman in the pro and later settled down as a right fielder. Chae Eun-seong, who mainly played as a right fielder until the 2021 season, returned to first base in consideration of the team’s circumstances ahead of the 2022 season. He played 121 games (935 innings) as a first baseman last year, and only played 8 games (33 innings) as a right fielder.
At the time of his free agency contract, Chae Eun-seong showed confidence, saying, “I can play an active role not only as a first baseman but also as an outfielder.” However, Chae Eun-seong at the beginning of the season is still awkward as an outfielder. From Hanwha’s point of view, if they want to utilize both Kim In-hwan and Chae Eun-seong, who occupied the first baseman position last year, the ideal picture would be for Chae Eun-seong to take a spot in the outfield. As Hanwha expects, attention is focused on whether Chae Eun-seong will be able to lead the central batting line and secure a spot in the outfield.