Bae Ji-hwan showed potential for growth at the end of last season. Bae Ji-hwan, who moved to the United States in 2018, debuted on the big league stage after 5 years. In 10 games, he went 11-for-33 with 6 RBI, 5 runs scored, 3 stolen bases, a 0.333 slugging percentage, a 0.424 OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 0.829. Although he is a small sample, he left a strong impact and attracted attention.
The local press also praised it. There is a prospect that Bae Ji-hwan will take the starting position in Pittsburgh in the future. It is predicted that Bae Ji-hwan, who showed his quick feet and decent defensive ability, will start in the 2023 season opener as the first hitter and center fielder.
안전놀이터 However, with the addition of Andrew McCutchen, Bae Ji-hwan’s position is expected to change. McCutchen, 37 years old. Due to his considerable age, the possibility of playing as a designated hitter seems high, but considering his still athleticism, it is evaluated that he is enough to play in the outfield.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported on McCutchen’s initiation ceremony on the 21st (Korean time) and predicted that McCutchen would defend the outfield, saying, “McCutchin showed good defense as a left fielder. He also has a sprint speed.”
If McCutchen plays left field, Brian Reynolds is likely to play center field. Jack Swinsky is expected to play in right field. Originally, there was a prospect that the outfield would consist of Bae Ji-hwan in center field, Reynolds in left field, and Swinski in right field.
The media analyzed that Bae Ji-hwan could play as an infielder, saying, “Now Bae Ji-hwan has to compete for the starting position. There is no backup shortstop in Pittsburgh. Bae Ji-hwan will play that role.” Bae Ji-hwan played shortstop from his school days, and was selected as the shortstop when he joined the Pittsburgh Pirates. After he moved to the United States, he played both second baseman and outfielder and boasted decent defensive power in any position.
Bae Ji-hwan’s place to play is expected to change with McCutchen’s joining. If Bae Ji-hwan continues his performance last season, he can rise to the starting position. I wonder if Bae Ji-hwan can take root in Pittsburgh.