Korean Players Not Meeting Expectations in MLB

Shin-Soo Choo
Choo Shin-Soo in Texas Rangers This image was originally posted to Flickr by Keith Allison at http://flickr.com/photos/27003603@N00/14552006471. It was reviewed on 19 July 2014 by the FlickreviewR robot and was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the cc-by-sa-2.0.


Lucas Lee, News Writer

No Korean has had a noticeably good career yet in the MLB. Historically there have only been 20 Korean MLB players, eight of which are playing this season and are not actually considered “big names” in the league. Do Korean’s possess the skills to compete on the Major League level?

MLB is recognized as the highest level of baseball throughout the world. For the majority of avid baseball players, it is a dream to make it to the majors someday.  That dream has come true for six Koreans this year adding to the current two.  Yet, so far, only one of the eight have had a remarkable start. Oh Seung-hwan, a relieving pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals, has  ERA and WHIP stats below average (Lower the better) and he statistically strikes out 43 percent of all batters. Oh may be having a good start to his career in the majors, but it’s another story for the rest.

Two Koreans are currently injured and are on rehab assignments, and the other five are struggling to be consistent. Ryu Hyun-Jin and Choo Shin-Soo, two Korean players who have been playing in the majors the longest, are out on injuries and are not expected to play for at least a couple more weeks. Lee Dae-Ho, Kang Jung-Ho, Park Byung-Ho and Choi Ji-Man are all finding it hard to keep their BA (Batting Average) near the .300’s, which is the average BA for good hitters. Choi Ji-Man’s BA is .056, an average that no MLB player should ever have. He is expected to get demoted to the lower MLB league within the year.

Martin Lee, a current ninth-grader, said, “Most of the Koreans playing right now are injured or not performing as well as they did in Korea.”  He supported his statement by saying, “I don’t think they are hitting very well, so in general, I don’t think the Korean baseball players in America are doing very well.”

Peter Lee, an eighth-grader, also shared similar thoughts, “The main [Korean] pitcher, Ryu Hyun-Jin, is injured so he can’t play.”  Peter also stated that “The Korean players are also not starting for their games.”  Compared to MLB players, Koreans have less skill and experience, which makes starting in their specific positions difficult.  If they do play, usually they come in as a designated hitter, instead of their normal positions.

On the other hand, ninth-grade Junwoo Kang said, “I admire them [the players] especially because I didn’t expect them to do this well.”  Even though Junwoo thinks highly of the Major League Korean players, he admits that they are not performing at their peak ability.  He stated, “actually, some of the players are now in a slump mainly because their team is not doing well.”  He also shared, “it is difficult to move your professional stage so late and then adapt to it so quickly.”

In the eyes of some, Koreans are having a remarkable start to their careers in the majors. They’re hitting homers, getting their chance at the plate, and making the best out of it, but some would see their performance as disappointing. The reason why they made it to the majors was because they were the best in their league.  However, when they’re compared to their previous league careers, many would say the performance by the Koreans have been poor.