The nickname “fixer” didn’t come about by accident.
In crunch time, his instincts kicked in. A hard-swinging bat, aimed squarely at right-center field, where he could say he was in the best shape of his life. The ball sailed over the fence as the home fans went into a frenzy, and the indomitable fixer had a huge smile on his face.
Kia Champions Field, Gwangju, Korea. The Kia Tigers swept a doubleheader against the LG Twins thanks in large part to Choi Hyung-woo. After a hard-fought win in game one of the doubleheader, Kia trailed LG by one run in game two. In the bottom of the fifth inning, with the bases loaded and nobody out, Choi Hyung-woo came off the bench to pinch-hit and hit a grand slam off Park Myung-geun. With this single, KIA regained the momentum and took the second game and moved back to fourth place.
Choi’s performance this season has been nothing short of remarkable. In 110 games this season, Choi is batting .297 (118-for-397) with 16 home runs, 78 RBIs, and an OPS of .873. In his last 10 games, he’s 3-for-4. After hitting in the triple digits in April and May to start the season, he cooled off a bit in June and July with monthly averages in the mid-triple digits, but he’s picked up the pace again in August and is looking to get back into the triple digits. Content-wise, his bat dances when the team needs it most, giving KIA a big boost in its fall baseball challenge for the second straight year.
Choi struggled in 2021, battling a combination of a slump and an eye condition, and finished the season just 2-for-3 with 12 homers, 55 RBIs, and a .729 OPS. He also struggled in the first half of last year, earning him the unwelcome label of “aging curve,” but he picked up the pace in the second half and has turned the clock back this season with consistent production. All season long, he’s been anchoring the cleanup trio alongside Na Sung-beom and Socrates Brito, but he’s also done his part in the outfield as well.
Choi became a free agent after the 2016 season with the Samsung Lions and signed a four-year, $10 million contract with KIA, where he batted .342 (176-for-514) with 26 home runs, 120 RBIs, and a 1.026 OPS that year, contributing to KIA’s V11. After the 2020 season, he signed a three-year, $4.7 billion contract to begin his second year of free agency. A career-low 2021 season and a sluggish first half of 2022 raised concerns, but he bounced back this year and is still a force to be reckoned with.스포츠토토
Age is just a number. Players in their 40s are nothing new. Choi is proving that with good self-management and skill, he can compete with younger players. If he continues on his current path, his third free agency will not be a distant dream.