“Senior Seunghwan Oh, WHIP is really difficult. We are still far away.”
It was last summer. LG finisher Ko Woo-seok, who was making a career high season, shook his head at the question, ‘Can’t I be compared to Oh Seung-hwan now?메이저놀이터‘ In the 2022 season, 42 saves, an average ERA of 1.48 and a WHIP (on-base percentage per inning) of 0.96 flew wildly, but WHIP stuck out their tongues, saying that they could not be matched.
That’s how ‘Final Boss’ Oh Seung-hwan’s heyday was dazzling. From his first year of joining, he recorded a WHIP of 0.67, and the following year, his second year, he set a KBO League record of 47 saves and a WHIP of 0.69 in one season. 47 saves again in 2011, the starting point of the Samsung Dynasty. And lowered WHIP to 0.67.
From the standpoint of his opposing team, it was difficult even for one batter to reach base in the ninth inning, and it was virtually impossible to come back. Turn the clock back to the 20th century to get a number superior to the closer’s WHIP of 0.67. National treasure pitcher Seon Dong-yeol recorded 0.50 WHIP twice. Seon Dong-yeol’s minimum WHIP in a season in the KBO League was 0.54 in 1993. In 1995, the year before he entered Japan, he raised 0.58.
However, there is a pitcher who approaches Oh Seung-hwan’s WHIP this season. Ham Deok-joo (28) is a left-handed pitcher from LG who has worn the Taegeuk mark since his early 20s, going back and forth between starting and finishing in the past, but has been hard to see in the first team for the past two years. After taking a strong starting point with two perfect pitches in the second game of the opening two consecutive games, he is looking forward to a career high season in his 11th year of joining the team. Until the last 2 days, 39 games, 39 innings, 3 wins, 3 saves, 12 holds, an average ERA of 1.15 and a WHIP of 0.77.
He is not a pitcher who throws an overwhelmingly strong ball. However, the deception from the unusual pitching motion and the changeup close to the harness put Ham Deok-joo in the ranks of the top lefties. Above all, this year, the ball is better than ever. He moved beyond the control zone into the command zone, spanning the border lines and utilizing the top of the strike zone as well. He pitches extremely salty water, as revealed in his WHIP, and his batting average is 0.136 and his on-base percentage is 0.214.
He is practically serving as the mainstay of the LG bullpen. He starts pitching two scoreless innings to break the flow of complete defeat in the opening game, and then pitches ironclad pitches in all innings. At the beginning of the season, when Pil Seung-jo Woo-seok Ko, Woo-young Jung, and Jung-yong Lee were injured or sluggish side by side, Deok-joo Ham took over as the finisher, setup man, and long relief. When a save pitcher is needed in the ninth inning, he raises the save and plays more than one inning when he needs to prevent multiple innings. When Go Woo-seok returned, he climbed the mound in the 8th inning and recorded a hold.
Until this year’s Arizona camp, I didn’t set a specific goal. At the time, Ham Deok-ju said, “I haven’t been able to play too much in the meantime. Watching first-team games on TV, I was so envious when I saw my teammates talking and laughing at the dugout. So my goal this year is to stay in the first team for as long as possible. This year, I want to play baseball happily in the first team.”
Now, beyond the fun, gaze at the top. He said to himself, “I wonder if there is a season where the control is this good. In the past, if I couldn’t control my pitch, I would just look at the center and throw it. This year, I was surprised that I was able to solve the game comfortably and easily because my ball control was good.”
The club has been looking forward to it and preparing for it. Since there is a high possibility that Woo-seok Ko and Woo-young Jung will board the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) this fall, an alternative was prepared from camp. Ham Deok-joo, who has experience in finishing, calculated that if he maintains normal condition, he can fill the void left by Pil Seung-jo.
The results are beyond expectations. Not only did he record the lowest average ERA (over 15 innings) among LG pitchers this season, but he also boasts a sense of stability along with KT Kim Jae-yoon with a WHIP of 0.78 in the entire league. Thanks to Ham Deok-joo, LG is a reliable team not only in the beginning and middle of the season, but also in the second half of the season when AG is held.