450 home runs, four years and four months ahead of the ‘national hitter’, but where does it end—?

SSG Landers’ Choi Jeong-jeong has added another home run to the KBO record books. There are many more to come.

Choi was the hero of the game-winning hit against the NC Dinos at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 10. With the score tied 1-1 in the fourth inning, Choi pulled an outside changeup from NC left-hander Choi Sung-young for a solo home run. It was his 21st home run of the season. With the home run, Choi became the second player in history to reach the 450-homer plateau after Lee Seung-yeop (now manager of the Doosan Bears). He is the first right-hander to do so in the KBO.

Lee Seung-yeop, who played in the Nippon Professional Baseball League for eight years from 2004 to 2011, reached 450 KBO home runs in 1811 games at the age of 40 years, 9 months, and 3 days on May 21, 2017, against the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles in a Samsung Lions uniform.

Choi “The Boy” Jang-Sa achieved the feat in his 2124th game. He reached 450 home runs at the age of 36 years, 5 months, and 12 days, about four years and four months earlier than Lee Seung-yeop. Despite playing more games, he was the youngest player to do so.

It’s only a matter of time before he surpasses Lee’s record for the most home runs in a KBO season (467), which could happen as early as later this season or as late as next season.

Choi is adding home run records one by one. On June 1, he became the first player in the KBO to record double-digit home runs in 18 consecutive seasons. On June 27, he hit 20 home runs for the eighth consecutive season, moving into a tie for second place in that category. The previous record was held by Park Byung-ho (KT Wiz) for nine consecutive years, but he has just nine home runs this season.

Choi has been able to accumulate the home run record thanks to his power, which has been known as the “boy wonder” since the beginning of his career. Technical improvements and consistency without major injuries have also been a driving force. Choi first filled a regulation at-bat in 2007, just three years after joining the team. Since then, he has filled in 13 out of 16 seasons until last year. In the last 10 years (2013-22), he ranks third in games played (1198) and third in plate appearances (5057).

It will be interesting to see how many more home runs Choi can add in the future. Even in his mid-30s, he still has enough power to compete for the home run title. Barry Bonds’ 762 home runs in Major League Baseball (MLB) and Sadaharu Oh’s 868 in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) are the most in history. “I hope Choi will open the 500-homer era,” said Lee Seung-yeop, who cheered on his junior.

For the time being, there is no threat to Choi’s home run record. Among active players, Park Byung-ho, who is a year older than Choi, has the most home runs with 371. No other player in his 20s has surpassed 100 home runs. Even Noh Si-hwan, a fifth-year Hanwha Eagles player who led the league with three straight home runs against the KT Wiz on Sept. 9, has 63 career home runs.메이저놀이터

“I’m proud to be the first right-handed hitter to reach 450 home runs,” Choi said, “and I want to continue to perform steadily until I retire.” SSG coach Kim Won-hyung said, “Choi is showing that she is the best right-handed hitter in Korea. Despite her age, she continues to perform well. There are very few players who can do that. She is building up a tremendous list of achievements.”

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