As you get older, your energy declines. His pitching and stamina are not the same as in previous years. No superstar can be the best forever. That is why the fighting spirit of veterans against the times shines brighter.
It is the 2023 season of professional baseball where the veterans who have entered the twilight of their careers stand out more than ever.
Oh Seung-hwan (41, Samsung) is the last “82-year-old” pitcher left in the league. The main pillars of the golden generation born in 1982, such as Kim Tae-gyun, Jeong Geun-woo, and Lee Dae-ho, retired one after another. There are only three players left until this year, including Oh Seung-hwan, Choo Shin-soo, and Kim Kang-min (above SSG). Oh Seung-hwan is the only pitcher.
The deterioration of pitch is obvious. The average velocity of a four-seam fastball this season is only 143.2 km. In the 2020 KBO return season alone, he recorded 146.2 km. In his first major league season with St. Louis in 2016, he threw a fast ball averaging 150 km.
Even his records show the years. Oh Seung-hwan had 14.5 strikeouts per 9 innings in his prime (2009). He is 6.63, less than half this season. His earned run average rose to 3.79. It’s a number that doesn’t match Samsung’s ‘final boss’.
Oh Seung-hwan started as a starting pitcher for the first time after joining the pros before Daegu Kiwoom on the 3rd. This is the record for the oldest starter in KBO history. It was the coaching staff’s consideration to improve pitching skills by throwing a lot of balls as a starter, and Oh Seung-hwan’s own will to do everything he could. On that day, Oh Seung-hwan showed the strength of a veteran by blocking 3 runs in 5 innings despite the early game.
Oh Seung-hwan, who returned as a closer pitcher, recorded one scoreless inning in all three appearances.
Oh Seung-hwan is not the only one. Koh Hyo-jun (40) and Roh Kyung-eun (39) are active as the core of the strongest SSG bullpen in the league. Hyojun Ko and Kyungeun Noh were released from LG and Lotte respectively after the 2020 season. In fact, it seemed to be a step towards retirement, but they did not give up and entered SSG after going through an entrance test and burning a spark.
Kiwoom Lim Chang-min (38) has also reached an age close to immortality due to his Korean age, but he is showing his skills. Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki recently expressed his willingness to use Lim Chang-min as the closer in the ninth inning.
Doosan Jang Won-joon (38) joined the ranks of veterans on the mound. On the 23rd, he started as a first-team starting pitcher in 958 days against Samsung in Jamsil, and endured with 4 runs in 5 innings. Jang Won-joon added a multiplier in 1844 days and became one of only three active pitchers in the league with 130 wins, including Yang Hyeon-jong (161 wins) and Kim Gwang-hyun (152 wins).
Jang Won-joon actively used a two-seam fastball instead of a four-seam, which averaged 140 km, and actively penetrated the strike zone while being hit repeatedly. Amid the injuries of foreign pitcher Dylan Pyle and native ace Gwak Bin, Jang Won-joon’s selection card by Doosan coach Lee Seung-yeop, who himself regarded as a ‘gamble’, was a success.안전놀이터
Jang Won-joon said, “My role is to throw the ball where the team wants,” and said, “I’ve been thinking of quitting without any regrets if I feel that my ball doesn’t work.” Just like Oh Seung-hwan, Koh Hyo-jun, Noh Kyung-eun, and Lim Chang-min, Jang Won-joon still has more to show on the first team stage.