Choi Hyung-woo (40, KIA Tigers) is the first player in the KBO League to open the era of 10 billion won ransom. He was the 4th hitter of the Samsung Lions Dynasty, which won the regular season championship for 5 consecutive years (2011-2015 season), and rose to the batting king (0.376) in the 2016 season, further raising the stock price. Its value was recognized through a big deal with KIA in the subsequent Stove League.
Since then, Choi Hyung-woo has become a model free agent (FA). He led KIA to the combined championship in the 2017 season and again became the batting champion (0.354) in the 2020 season when he was 38 years old. Ahead of the 2021 season, he even signed a 3-year contract renewal with KIA (a total of 4.7 billion won).
Even Choi Hyeong-woo could not overcome the time. In the first half of last season (2022), he was sluggish with a batting average of only 0.227. The word ‘retirement’ was engraved in Choi Hyeong-woo’s mind for the first time since his debut. At the time, he looked back, saying, “Because the 2021 season was also sluggish, I was helpless even though I prepared really hard all winter.
Hyungwoo Choi rebounded in the second half. He also showed his clutch ability in each game that was important for the team’s ranking competition. In the second half he had a batting average of 0.314 and 34 RBIs. Following Na Seong-beom, all of them were second in the team. KIA ranked 5th in the regular season and advanced to the postseason for the first time in 4 years. It created a springboard for re-leap.
Choi Hyeong-woo is 41 years old this year. He is also in the final year of his 3-year contract with KIA. It is true that skills are on a downward curve. He is at a crossroads between extending his playing career and retiring. Baseball fans confirmed the race of fighting spirit in which Lee Dae-ho, 41 years old, recorded a batting average of 0.331 (fourth place) last year and even won the Golden Glove in the designated hitter category. This year, attention is focused on Choi Hyeong-woo.
Choi Hyung-woo looked back on the finale of his one-year senior, Lee Dae-ho, and said, “I was thrilled to see (Lee) Dae-ho, who showed off his best skills until the last season and exited with applause.” said
Choi Hyeong-woo said, “I don’t think it will be difficult for me to announce my retirement in a cool way like Dae-ho, and finish with an outstanding record. Realistically, there’s nothing I can decide. My biggest goal this year is to get better results than last year. My age is an excuse. I don’t want to say anything. You have to pour out everything and accept the result.” Choi Hyung-woo continued, “If I do not have the skills to defend the ground, I will retire without any regrets, and if I confirm even a small possibility, I will talk well with the club (to prolong my career as a player). Of course, I will calmly accept whatever choice the club makes.” said.
Choi Hyeong-woo is currently looking at his skills and competitiveness objectively. Like he was in his prime, he couldn’t guarantee batting average in the mid-30s and hitting 30 home runs, he said. He did not attach any significance to the second half of last season. He just wants to keep in mind what Lee Dae-ho showed last season and show that he is a player who can help the team win even at the age of 41.
Choi Hyeong-woo is on the verge of achieving his big record. He recorded 1461 RBIs in his career until last year, and if he adds 38, he surpasses Lee Seung-yeop (now coach of the Doosan Bears), who currently ranks first in this division (1498).
The record I longed for. Even this is premiered this year. Choi Hyung-woo said, “Honestly, I should have surpassed last season. 스포츠토토 That’s why I’m embarrassed to mention the record. It’s a record that can be achieved if you don’t get hurt. It’s more important to score RBIs that help the team.”
Choi Hyung-woo, who was the league’s first ’10 billion man’, is no longer aiming for the best hitter. After the 2023 season, he intends to follow a path that convinces himself, the team and the fans. Choi Hyeong-woo said, “Now it is more important to have the team consistently at the top than individual records. PS experience is a great asset to a baseball player. It is difficult to explain in words. If you go to fall baseball this year, young players will take a big leap forward. I want to help my juniors,” he said.
Choi Hyeong-woo left for Tucson, Arizona, USA on the 18th, where the 1st spring camp of his team was held. He moved early to adapt to the local environment.