What is the solution to the coexistence of the 2023 WBC national team super-luxury infield?
With the announcement of the final roster for the 5th 2023 WBC, which will be held in March this year, attention is focused on the future operation plan of the ultra-luxury infield composed of the best players in the major leagues and the KBO league.
On the 4th, WBC national team coach Lee Kang-cheol and WBC national team technical director Jo Bum-hyeon held a press conference at the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) and revealed the list of the final 30 members of the WBC national team.
The final 30 players consisted of 15 pitchers, 2 catchers, 8 infielders and 5 outfielders. With a total of 30 finalists, if there are no breakaway players such as special injuries, the WBC finals will be held as it is in the big picture.
In particular, the list of infielders draws attention. Choi Jeong (SSG), Kim Hye-seong (Kiwoom), Oh Ji-hwan (LG), Park Byeong-ho-Kang Baek-ho (kt), Kim Ha-seong 메이저놀이터 (San Diego), Tommy Hyun-soo Edman (St. There are only three active major leaguers, Ha-seong Kim, Edmund, and Ji-man Choi. Immediately after the announcement, the Japanese media also called it a ‘luxurious list’ and it is a gorgeous list that does not hide its vigilance.
As only five outfielders were selected and only two catchers were selected, the possibility of maximizing field power should eventually be made in the infielder sector. At the same time, there is a great need to bring out the best lineup for each situation by resolving issues such as overlapping positions.
First of all, the keystone combination that draws the most attention is the combination of Major League Gold Glove second baseman Edmon and shortstop Kim Ha-seong, who was also a finalist for this year’s Gold Glove.
At a press conference on the 4th, national team coach Lee Kang-cheol laughed, saying, “I think I will have to see (Edman’s) utilization,” and said, “Multi-position is possible, and the main position is second baseman. He is the player who received the Gold Glove in 2021. It was decided that it was a resource that could form a keystone combination with Ha-seong Kim, so we plan to use it as a starting player.”
Edmon, a Korean player whose mother is Korean, debuted in the big leagues in 2019 and has played in 459 games so far this year, with a batting average of 0.269, 40 home runs, 79 stolen bases, 274 runs scored, and 175 RBIs. He appeared in 153 games this season, posting a batting average of 0.265, 13 homers, 95 runs scored, 57 RBIs, and 32 stolen bases.
Edmund’s excellent defensive power, which was sufficiently verified with the Gold Glove in the 2021 season, is fast enough to rank second in the National League stealing category in 2021 (30 steals) and this year (32 steals), respectively, and has an excellent base running sense. He is a resource that can be fully utilized as the main second baseman and leadoff even in the national team.
It is a keystone combination with high expectations, not only in his offense but also in defense. Kim Ha-seong, who was one of the shortstops with excellent offense even when he was playing in Korea, has been playing an active role as a full-time shortstop for San Diego this season and has been a finalist in the Gold Glove category. In the previous tournament, Kim Ha-seong was not a key player to put it mildly, but in this tournament, he has become a key player who will command the entire infield defense of the national team.
He’s a competent enough infielder. It is unclear which team list will be formed for each country at the moment, but the defense of the keystone combination, with Oh Ji-hwan, who was reborn as the best shortstop in the KBO league, and Kim Hye-seong, who showed the best defense by changing his position to second base last season, as a backup, is the best among the WBC finalists. Evaluations are coming out.
On the other hand, despite the large number of players, there is only one professional third baseman. Choi Jeong, the best third baseman in Korea, is at the center, but a replacement situation may be necessary when considering his considerable age or the situation during the game.
Regarding this, Cho Beom-hyeon, head of the technical committee of the national team, said, “Originally, Gyeong-min Heo was in the roster, but I received a call that ‘it will not be easy for him to play due to an injury.'”
At the same time, Chairman Beom-hyun Cho said, “Ha-seong Kim can see third base. Then Oh Ji-hwan can go to shortstop,” he said. “Edmund can also see third base. But rather than that, I decided that it was better to move Kim Ha-seong to third base.”
Kim Ha-seong, Oh Ji-hwan, Kim Hye-seong, and Edmon are representative resources that can play multiple positions among infielders. This means that in a situation where Choi Jeong is replaced or cannot come out, Kim Ha-seong moves to third base and Oh Ji-hwan plays shortstop. Also, among infield resources, Kim Hye-seong, who is one of the fastest-footed along with Edman, is expected to serve as a utility backup member for each situation, including major runners and great defense.
Whether or not Choi Ji-man will join has yet to be confirmed. Choi Ji-man, who is currently recovering from an injury, needs final coordination after a medical check with his team. Chairman Cho said, “I had a meeting with Choi Ji-man in December of last year. He confirmed his will to ‘want to join the WBC national team’. He moved to the current team, went to the United States after elbow surgery, did a medical check, and talked with the club, and finally said that he would contact me.”
Therefore, with the possibility of replacement in mind, we also selected three candidates for the reserve first baseman. They are Choi Ji-man, Park Byung-ho, and Kang Baek-ho. Among them, Kang Baek-ho is most likely to be the designated hitter.
Director Lee said, “The reason Kang Baek-ho entered the list was to strengthen the designated hitter position.” When I did it, I decided that it would be better in that part (the latter).”
At the same time, coach Lee said, “In the case of Byeong-ho Park (up to the quarterfinal tournament), he played games in Japan in Asia, and when he defended, he judged that he could defend enough for about 3 games at the Tokyo Dome.” He mentioned the possibility of participating. Of course, it will depend on the physical condition of the players and whether or not Choi Ji-man joins, but it is highly likely that Park Byeong-ho and Choi Ji-man will share the designated hitter position with Kang Baek-ho as first basemen.
This national team is expected to have a fielding team centered on the infield Kim Ha-seong-Edman Keystone combination and the outfield Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom). In addition, veteran members with a lot of experience and the best beasts at each position in the KBO League are solidly lined up.