The memories of ‘One Day One Can’ don’t stay just memories. The arrival of ‘Hidden Card’ Kang Jin-seong has created tension in the SSG Landers.
SSG made a one-for-one trade with the Doosan Bears on the 25th. They received outfielder Kang Jin-sung and gave up pitcher Kim Jung-woo.
It was a trade that SSG wanted first and started discussions. SSG wanted Kang Jin-sung outright, and it took Doosan a little longer to figure out what they wanted in return. Kim Jung-woo is a prospect who was drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft by the SK Wyverns (SSG’s predecessor) and has already completed his military service. This trade was made because SSG was in need of a young pitcher.
Kang Jin-sung also had a hard time getting a chance in Doosan. His first team was the NC Dinos. He was drafted by NC as a rookie in the 4th round (33rd overall) in 2012 and played with NC until the 2021 season. After the 2021 season, he moved to Doosan as compensation for free agent Park Geon-woo.
However, he was not utilized much in Doosan. There was too much competition in the outfield, and Yang Seok-hwan was already at first base. This season was no different. With Kim Jae-hwan, Jeong Soo-bin, and foreign hitter Jose Rojas holding down the fort, the speedy backup outfielders have been unable to push their way up the lineup as pinch-hitters and center fielders. That’s when SSG noticed Kang and made the trade.
Kang had his best season since his debut. He had an unforgettable 2020 season. He played nearly 121 games in his first full season, batting .390 with 12 home runs and 70 RBIs. While his batting average dropped in the second half of the season, along with his stamina, he had a very strong start to the season. In the month of April, he batted a whopping .474 with five home runs and 19 RBIs. This, combined with the nicknames “Kang” and “Kangjinseong” from the then-popular song “Kang” by singer B, led to the meme of “1 Kang a day” for every home run he hit.
Of course, the impact of the first half of the 2020 season hasn’t been matched since. It’s also a big reason why Kang has changed teams twice.
SSG sees a lot of value in a right-handed hitter who can play first base and the outfield. SSG is a team with a lot of lefties. This is something they struggle with when the opposing team has a strong left-handed pitcher.
Coach Kim Won-hyung said about Kang Jin-sung, “I’m going to use him as a right fielder and first baseman. We won’t use him only as an outfielder.” When we need to give Han Yoo-seom a defensive break, or when Choo Shin-soo can’t play defense, it’s much easier to organize the lineup with Kang Jin-sung in right field. 안전놀이터
He can also play first base. Currently, SSG’s starting first baseman is unclear. Jeon Eui-san, who stood out last year, has been struggling with his bat this season, while Oh Tae-gon and Choi Joo-hwan are taking turns at first base. Add Kang Jin-seong to the mix, and you have a lot more options. That’s why there’s a lot of tension in the first base and outfield competition.
Of course, this is all predicated on Kang doing his part. Defense is important, but the best weapon to stay in the competition is hitting. As a right-handed hitter, he has the potential to be a force to be reckoned with in Incheon. This is a crucial turning point for SSG, who want to survive, but also want to win.