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Jae-hong Park

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Jae-hong Park

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 9", Weight 185 lb.

Jae-hong Park is a former Korea Baseball Organization Rookie of the Year and All-Star who was a 30-30 man three times, becoming the first KBO player to reach that mark. A four-time Gold Glove winner in the outfield, he has played for South Korea in the Olympics.

Park was the All-Star third baseman in the 1993 Asian Championship, in which South Korea won Silver. In the 1994 Baseball World Cup, Park played for the South Korean national team and helped them to a Silver Medal. He hit .293/.383/.585 with 11 runs in 10 games and was error-free at third base. He also played for Korea in the 1995 Asian Championship, helping them win a spot in the 1996 Olympics.

Park debuted in 1996 with the Hyundai Unicorns. He hit .295/.369/.556 with 36 steals and a league-leading 30 home runs. The rookie became the first player in the 15-year history of the KBO to reach the 30-30 mark. He also drove in 108 runs, leading the league, giving him two legs of the Triple Crown. Additionally, he shone in the field, winning a KBO Gold Glove to complete the all-around season. He was a unanimous pick as the KBO Rookie of the Year.

In 1997, Jae-hong hit .326/.442/.619 in 96 games, with 27 homers and 22 steals. He won his second Gold Glove. Park slipped to .266/.373/.544 in his third year, but stole his most bases (43) and also homered thirty times. He scored 86 and drove in 84. He won his third Gold Glove.

During the 1999 season, Park batted .295/.397/.504 with 24 HR and 17 SB. He drove home 98 runners. He led the 1999 Asian Championship in RBI, helping South Korea win a Gold Medal. He made the All-Tournament outfield alongside Chih-Yuan Chen and Byung-kyu Lee. In 2000, Jae-hong won his fourth Gold Glove and produced at a .309/.388/.589 clip. He hit 32 homers and stole 30 bases for his third and final 30-30 season. He scored a career-high 101 and drove in 115 batters, leading the KBO for the second time. He also played in the 2000 Olympics, hitting .182/.308/.364 but with 5 runs and 5 RBI in six games. He was error-free in right field and stole a base in his lone attempt for the Bronze Medal-winning South Koreans.

At age 27, Jae-hong hit .284/.377/.448 with just 18 homers and seven steals in 2001. In his last year with Hyundai (2002), he batted .278/.343/.438 in further decline with 12 steals. He set new personal lows in OBP, slugging, homers (15), runs (57) and RBI (67). He did win another award, being named MVP of the KBO All-Star Game.

Moving on to the hometown Kia Tigers in 2003 in a trade for Sung-hoon Jung, Park hit .301/.393/.510 in a rebound season. He homered 19 times and stole 14 bases. He represented South Korea in the 2003 Asian Championship. In 2004, he batted .253/.366/.425 in just 186 AB and 73 games. He only stole 7 and cracked seven home runs.

Park switched teams again in 2005, joining the SK Wyverns. His batting line that year read .304/.400/.487 and he hit 18 homers. He stole 22 bases, topping 20 for the first time in six years. A free agent, he re-signed with SK.

Through 2005, Park ranked tied for 17th in KBO history in average (.293), tied for 23rd in doubles (217), tied for 20th in times grounded into double play (101), 25th in hits (1,209), ninth in home runs (220), 9th in RBI (779), 14th in runs (730), tied for 9th in steals (210), 10th in strikeouts (790) and 16th in BB+HBP (647). He is the first player in KBO history with 200 steals and 200 homers.

He was to play in the 2006 World Baseball Classic but was sidelined by injury; Ji-man Song took his spot on the roster.

In 2006, Park batted .259/.353/.431 with 22 SB and 18 HR. He hit .280/~.362/.487 in 2007 with 17 homers but only 10 steals in 17 tries as he was slowing down.

Park won the Home Run Derby prior to the 2008 KBO All-Star Game, beating Sharnol Adriana. Adriana and other members of the Cuban and Dutch Olympic teams competed against the South Koreans. During the 2008 KBO season, Park hit .318/.420/.538 with 19 home runs and 72 RBI but was only 5-for-11 in steals. He was 6th in the KBO in average, 5th in homers, second in OBP (behind Hyun-soo Kim) and third in slugging (behind Tae-kyun Kim and Karim Garcia). He was third in OPS behind Tae-kyun Kim and Hyun-soo Kim. He helped SK post the best record in KBO history and then win the 2008 Korean Series.

On April 23, 2009, Park stole the 250th base of his career, beating a Min-ho Kang threw. He became the first player in KBO history to reach 250 steals and 250 homers; only 19 players in MLB history and 4 in NPB history had done so. On May 6, Park was threatened by a Lotte Giants fan who ran onto the field, holding a plastic knife with the words "Did you apologize to Il-yeop" written on it? Il-yeop Kim had argued with Park two weeks prior about a pitch that Kim threw at Park's knee.


Sources: KBO player page, Korean wikipedia entry for Park, 2000 Olympics stats from IBAF site

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