- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 1", Weight 181 lb.
- School Dankook University
- Born October 25, 1974
Byung-Kyu Lee was an outfielder with the Chunichi Dragons. He has appeared in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic and won a Korea Baseball Organization batting title during his 10 years as the center fielder for the LG Twins. He also won six Gold Gloves and led the league in hits several times.
Lee won Silver with South Korea in the 1994 Asian Games. He led the 1995 Asian Championship in average and stolen bases; he helped South Korea win Silver and a spot in the next year's Olympics. He starred in the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, hitting .333/.463/.606 with nine runs in nine games for Korea. He led the event with 7 steals (never caught), two more than Adonis Kemp. He also went deep three times to tie Evert-Jan 't Hoen, Nobuhiko Matsunaka, Norman Cardoze, Omar Linares, Hee-sung Mun, Jose Ramon Padilla and Yoshitomo Tani for second in the event in homers, one behind Juan Rodriguez.
In the 1996 Olympics, the Dankook University flyhawk batted .375/.395/.438 with 6 RBI in 7 games. He was error-free in left field as one of the bright spots for the last-place team.
Lee broke in with the 1997 LG Twins, hitting .305/.368/.442 with 8 triples and 23 steals. He was named Korea Baseball Organization Rookie of the Year and won his first KBO Gold Glove. In 1998, he slipped to a .279/.329/.415 line at the plate but bounced back in 1999 with a .349/.394/.620 season. He was second to Hae-yong Ma in the KBO in average, more than tripled his previous home run high when he cracked 30, swiped 31 bases, scored 117 and drove in 99. His 192 hits led the league and he might have led in some other categories as well. He won his second Gold Glove.
Lee was MVP of the 1999 Asian Championship, when South Korea won Gold. He led the event in both batting average and runs.
In 2000, Byung-Kyu batted .323/.383/.482 with 18 homers, 99 runs and 99 RBI. His 170 hits led the loop (tied with Won-jin Chang) and he was 7th in average; he won his third Gold Glove. In the 2000 Olympics, Lee hit .351/?/.405 with six runs to help South Korea to the bronze medal. During the 2001 campaign, Lee put up a .308/.373/.445 line with 107 runs scored, 24 steals and a league-leading 167 hits (one more than Jay Davis). He picked up his fourth Glove. He hit .395/.400/.474 with 8 RBI in 10 games in the 2001 Baseball World Cup.
At age 27, Lee produced at a .293/.375/.450 clip. He was 10th in the KBO in batting average. No longer a 30-30 threat, he only had 12 homers and 9 steals. He hit .364 with five RBI for South Korea when they won the 2002 Asian Games. In 2003, he hit .279/.365/.461 but only played 44 games, presumably due to injury.
During the 2004 season, Lee batted .323/.397/.468 with 95 runs. He tied Tae-kyun Kim for 4th in the KBO in average. After a two-year absence, he won his fifth Gold Glove. The next year, he put up a .337/.388/.455 batting line with a KBO-leading 157 hits. He claimed the batting title that year and won his sixth Gold Glove. At that point, his career .312 average was 4th all-time in the KBO behind Hyo-jo Jang, Jun-hyeok Yang and Jong-beom Lee.
Representing South Korea in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, Lee hit only .192/.207/.231 in 7 games as the left fielder for one of the tourney's top teams. During the regular season, Lee hit .297/.344/.406 and was 7th in the league in batting average. He had hit .312/~.368/.467 in 10 years in the KBO. He won Bronze in the 2006 Asian Games.
After 2006, he was signed by the Chunichi Dragons, who had shown a mixed record with past KBO signees such as Dong-yeol Sun, Jong-beom Lee and Samson Lee. He hit just .261/.298/.360 in his first 203 AB for Chunichi, one of the lowest OPSes by a starter in the Central League. He was sent to ni-gun in June. With Kosuke Fukudome injured for the second half of the season, Lee returned to regular action. Overall, he batted .262/.295/.370 in 132 games. He was just 2 for 18 in the 2007 Japan Series but his hits were a 2-run homer and RBI double; he drove in two other runs for an impressive 2.5:1 ratio of RBI to hits on the Series as Chunichi claimed its first title in over 50 years.
Lee was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in the 2007 Asian Championship.
Sources: KBO player page, 1999-2006 Baseball Almanacs, Korean wikipedia, World Baseball Classic website, IBAF site, Japanbaseballdaily by Gary Garland, Japanesebaseball.com by Michael Westbay
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