SSG Landers franchise star Choi Jeong (36), who is leading the team to the top of the standings, has been named the No. 1 third baseman in the first round of All-Star fan voting.
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) on Wednesday announced the results of the first round of fan voting for the “Best 12” for the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO All-Star Game (as of 5 p.m. on Nov. 11).
Choi leads the Dream All-Star (SSG, KT Wiz, Samsung Lions, Lotte Giants, Doosan Bears) third baseman category with 416,309 votes, a significant lead over runner-up Han Dong-hee (Lotte) with 271,847 votes. The 140,000-vote lead comes amidst a Lotte Giants feast that has seen the team ranked first in 10 positions this season. He is also ahead of No. 1 Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), the Nanum All-Star (Kiwoom Heroes, LG Twins, KIA Tigers, NC Dinosaurs, Hanwha Eagles), who received 384,478 votes, and has retained his pride as the KBO’s top third baseman.
If Choi becomes an All-Star, it will be his 11th All-Star selection, tying him for the most by an active player and tying him for fourth all-time. With four manager’s picks and seven Best 12 selections, he is tied with Han Dae-hyun (Haetae-Seogun) and Lee Bum-ho (KIA-Namun) for the most selections among third basemen.
Based on his performance this season, Choi is a well-deserved All-Star. In 55 games, he hit .300 with 12 home runs, 38 RBIs, 50 runs scored, five doubles, a .385 slugging percentage, a .527 OPS, and a .912 OPS, putting him in contention for the title, ranking second in home runs, fifth in RBIs, first in runs scored, and second in slugging percentage.
He hasn’t even had the usual ups and downs since returning from the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) in poor shape. He only got better as he went along, hitting .275 with an OPS of .846 in April, .316 with an OPS of .887 in May, and .333 with an OPS of 1.152 in June. This has allowed SSG’s offense, which has a team batting average of .248 (9th in the league), to bounce back after a few bad games.
As a result, SSG has been called the “Choi Jung Landers” and “when Choi Jung hits, we win” this season. In response, Choi said after the NCs on the 17th of last month, “I feel like I have a goal because the fans are expecting so much from me. I think the time for pressure has passed, and those words give me more strength and motivation.” She expressed her gratitude.
Although there is no regular season MVP, Choi is making a name for himself in Korean baseball history with his consistency in representing the KBO beyond SSG. On April 13, he led off the sixth inning for Daegu Samsung Electronics and hit a double to left-center off Lee Ho-sung. It was his 2000th career hit at the age of 36 years, 1 month, and 15 days. It ranks 17th in KBO history and fifth among right-handed hitters behind Hong Sung-hoon (2046 hits), Jung Sung-hoon (2159 hits), Kim Tae-kyun (2209 hits) and Lee Dae-ho (2199 hits).
On June 1, he hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the third and fourth innings, marking his 18th consecutive season of double-digit home runs in the KBO, a record for any player in the league. With his back-to-back home runs, he became the fourth player in KBO history to reach the 1,400-run plateau, joining Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop (40 years, 26 days), Choi Hyung-woo (38 years, 4 months, 21 days), and Lee Dae-ho (40 years, 2 months, 10 days).
In a KBO that has suffered from a right-handed hitter famine for years, Choi is an even prouder franchise star for SSG, which began as the SK Wyverns in 2000 and was reborn in 2021. A graduate of Yushin High School, Choi joined SK in the first round of the 2005 draft and is the seventh player to hit 2,000 hits for one organization. SSG, which has a 23-year history including SK, became the first club to produce a “one-club 2,000-hit player” in the shortest time. 안전놀이터
Baseball fans, including SSG fans, voted Choi the No. 1 choice for the All-Star Game. With the support of her fans, Choi returned to the field. As of June 12, Choi’s 441 home runs and 1,405 RBIs put him on pace to become the KBO’s all-time leader. The all-time leader in home runs and RBIs is Lee Seung-yeop, who has 467 home runs and 1498 RBIs. Of those, RBIs are held by Choi Hyung-woo (KIA), another stalwart, who is expected to pass him sooner rather than later with 1493 RBIs. However, Choi is four years younger than Choi Hyung-woo, so it’s not impossible for him to overtake him.
Meanwhile, fan voting to select the 12 best players for the 2023 KBO All-Star Game will continue until the 25th, with the second interim results to be announced on the 19th. The final list of 12 players will be finalized on the 26th by combining the results of the fan vote (70%) and the player vote (30%).