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Kyung-wan Park

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Kyung-wan Park

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 10", Weight 192 lb.

Kyung-wan Park enters 2009 as a catcher with the SK Wyverns, in his 19th season in the Korea Baseball Organization. A former Olympic medalist, Park once hit 40 homers and slugged .590 or better twice. He led the KBO in homers twice and was MVP the same season. Entering 2006, he was tied for fifth all-time in homers in the KBO.

[edit] 1991-1997: Raiders; the early years

Park went 0 for 6 with six strikeouts and two walks in 10 games as a teenage rookie with the 1991 Ssangbangwool Raiders. A fellow rookie was high school teammate Won-hyung Kim, who would go on to pitch for 18+ years in South Korea. In 1992 and 1993, Kyung-wan saw slightly more playing time, getting 97 AB overall. He hit .224/~.269/.429 the first year and .208/~.283/.250 the next. In 1994, Kyung-wan began playing fairly regularly, getting into 100+ games. He produced at a .238/~.322/.463 clip with 14 HR in 240 AB. For the 1995 Raiders, Park hit .227/~.344/.432 with 19 homers.

In 1996, the SBG backstop batted .218/~.373/.403. He drew 79 walks and hit 15 homers to compensate for his low average. He also won his first KBO Gold Glove. The next year, Park made a major stride forward, hitting .280/~.436/.552. He still was not the everyday catcher for the Raiders.

[edit] 1998-2002: Hyundai, MVP, Olympics

During the 1998 season, Park moved to the Hyundai Unicorns and batted .250/~.325/.458 with 19 homers while winning his second Gold Glove. His average fell in 1999 but he almost doubled his walk total from 45 to 80 to more than compensate; his batting line read .221/~.360/.458. He smashed 23 home runs, the first time he had topped 20 after four consecutive years in the 15-19 range.

Park had his career year in 2000. He batted .282/~.422/.615 with 83 runs, 40 homers, 95 RBI and 99 walks. He won his third and last Gold Glove. He edged Tyrone Woods in the home run race by one to lead the league and won the KBO MVP Award. He was seven points behind slugging leader Ji-man Song and about 14 points behind OBP leader Sung-ho Jang. He helped lead Hyundai to the best record in the KBO by a 16-game margin and they went on to win the playoffs as well. In the 2000 Olympics, he went 2 for 7 with two walks and two doubles as the back-up to Sung-heon Hong on the bronze medal-winning South Korean squad.

In 2001, Park fell off drastically from his MVP year, hitting .257/~.397/.463 with 98 walks, 24 homers and a surprising 21 stolen bases. Park's slide continued into 2002, when the 12th-year veteran hit .203/~.313/.412; he still contributed 19 homers in his last year for Hyundai.

[edit] 2003- : SK Wyverns and a record

Park joined the SK Wyverns in 2003 and hit .250/~.376/.443 with 15 homers in his first year with the club. He had his second-best season in 2004 with a .295/.446/.595 batting line, 108 walks, 94 runs and a KBO-leading 34 home runs. He was six runs behind leader Jong-beom Lee and 13 points behind slugging leader Cliff Brumbaugh. Brumbaugh also beat him in OBP by 22 points. Park was second in walks, four behind the leader.

In 2005, Park hit .245/~.363/.389. He hit 11 home runs, ending a 10-year run of 15 or more per season.

Through 2005, Park ranked 39th in KBO history in doubles (190), 8th in games (1,492), tied for 35th in double plays ground into (87), 40th in hits (1,069), tied for 5th in home runs (252), 12th in RBI (741), 19th in runs (687), 2nd in strikeouts (1,238, trailing only Jong-hun Jang) and 4th in walks+HBP (864).

On April 9, 2006, Kyung-wan broke the KBO record for home runs by a catcher, when he hit his 253rd. He hit the record-setting shot against his old teammates, the Hyundai Unicorns. The previous home run record holder for KBO backstops was Man-soo Lee. Overall, Park batted .253/~.346/.414 in 2006 with 13 home runs.

In 2007, Park won his first Gold Glove in 7 years as the league's best catcher. That season, he batted .247/~.365/.440 with 15 HR.

He struck out in all 3 of his at-bats in the 2007 Asian Championship. In the 2008 KBO, Park hit .273/~.383/.398 for SK as they set a new KBO record for wins in a season.

During the 2009 World Baseball Classic, Park went 2 for 23 with 3 walks, 8 strikeouts, no runs and one RBI in 9 games as South Korea's starting catcher, the worst hitter on the runner-up squad. His 8 Ks tied David Wright for fifth in the tournament.

Park hit .268/.374/.500 with 12 homers in 198 AB in 2009 before an injury ended his season; Sang-ho Jung took over at catcher and did not miss a beat.

Park's career line through 2009 reads .249/~.371/.463 with 1,064 walks, 299 homers and 926 RBI.

Sources: KBO player page, Korean wikipedia, KBO career leaders, KBO single-season leaders, IBAF website, World Baseball Classic

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