‘450-homer’ Choi dreams of reaching 500, surpassing Lee Seung-yup

Reporter Kim Hee-jun = Choi Jung (36), who became the first right-handed hitter in the KBO to surpass 450 career home runs, is looking to surpass Lee Seung-yup and reach the 500-homer plateau.

Choi hit a four-pitch outside changeup from starter Choi Sung-young for a solo home run over the left-center field fence in the bottom of the fourth inning of a 1-1 tie against the NC Dinos at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 9.

It was his 21st home run of the season and 450th of his career.

Choi became the second player in KBO history to reach the 450-homer plateau, joining Doosan Bears manager Lee Seung-yeop. Lee was a left-handed hitter. Choi is the first right-handed hitter to reach 450 home runs in the KBO.

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

Choi Jeong-jeong, who reached 450 home runs in 2124 games, played fewer games than Lee, but became the youngest player to reach the mark at 36 years, 5 months, and 12 days.

He is also within striking distance of the KBO’s all-time home run record, which Lee holds with 467, and Choi is 17 arches away from equaling it.

With SSG having 49 games left in the season, Choi could catch Lee’s record as early as this season. At the latest, it could happen next year.

With his consistency, it’s not out of the question for Choi to become the first KBO player to reach 500 home runs.

Choi has 450 home runs, a record that he has built up with consistency.

On June 1 of this year, Choi hit back-to-back home runs for the Incheon Samsung Electronics, becoming the first KBO player to hit double-digit home runs in 18 consecutive seasons.

On June 27, he hit 20 home runs for the eighth consecutive season. This is tied with Lee (1997-2012 – excluding overseas stints) as the all-time leader in this category. Park Byung-ho (KT Wiz) hit 20 home runs in nine consecutive seasons from 2012 to 2022 (he went overseas in 2016 and 2017) with the Kiwoom Heroes.

Choi, who earned the nickname “Boy Jangsa” after hitting 12 home runs as a 19-year-old in his second year as a professional in 2006, has consistently hit double-digit home runs since then, but has been more of a mid-to-long range hitter with a high batting average.

Seeing his potential as a big hitter, Choi hit 20 homers for the first time since his debut in 2010, he tried to make a change. He hit 26 homers in 2012 and 28 in 2013.

Injuries kept him from reaching 100 games in 2014 and 2015, and he hit just 14 and 17 home runs, but in 2016 he hit 40 home runs to become the first player to win the home run title in his professional career, and in 2017 he hit 46 arches to win the home run title for the second year in a row.

He was consistent after that. From 2018 to 2021, he hit 30 or more home runs every season except for 2019, when he hit 29. Last year, he hit 26 homers.

At the ripe old age of 36, Choi is still going strong this year. He once led the league in home runs and is currently second in home runs.

If Choi, who averaged 23.8 home runs per year from his rookie year to last year, continues his consistent form, he could reach 500 home runs next year.

Choi, who signed a six-year, $10.6 billion contract with SSG before the 2019 season, will be out of contract next year. However, if Choi continues to perform like he did this year, there is a good chance he will be re-signed. Considering that players who have passed their prime are still showing their skills, it is expected that Choi will continue to play for many more years.

Lee is also rooting for Choi. When Choi reached 400 homers, Lee said, “I hope he can reach 500 without injury. The 500-homer record is a must for the Korean Baseball Organization.”안전놀이터

Choi is determined to stay consistent. “My goal is to hit double-digit home runs every year until I retire,” he said, emphasizing, “I want to do my best to perform consistently until I retire.”

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