Eui-ji Yang (양의지)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 192 lb.
- High School Gwangju Jinheung High School
Eui-ji Yang has been a top South Korean catcher.
He was a sixth-round pick of the Doosan Bears in the 2006 KBO draft. He played in three games for the 2007 Bears, going 0 for 1. He was a DH/C for South Korea in the 2009 Baseball World Cup, batting .167/.333/.208. He hit .267/.348/.471 with 20 homers for Doosan in 2010 to take KBO Rookie of the Year honors, the fourth straight Bear so honored. He improved his average in 2011 but his power plummeted to 4 homers - he batted .301/.375/.386. In 2012, he hit .279/.361/.387. He slumped to .248/.338/.376 in 2013.
The Gwangju native rebounded in 2014 and was hitting .294/.360/.480 before his season ended a bit early due to a finger injury. He won the KBO Gold Glove as the top overall catcher in the KBO. With offensive levels on the rise, his 2015 batting line was .326/.405/.523. He had 27 doubles, 20 homers (the first time he had hit more than 10 since his rookie year) and 93 RBI. He led the league with 24 times hit by pitch. He just missed the top 10 in average; his .3258 was .0004 behind Hyun-soo Kim, both of whom rounded to .326. He was 15th in OPS. He repeated as Gold Glove winner. Doosan won the 2015 Korean Series.
In the 2015 Premier 12, he backed up Min-ho Kang as the catcher for South Korea, going 3 for 13 with two walks, two runs and two RBI; he homered off Cuba's Jonder Martinez. He had 35 putouts and one assist while allowing two steals in two tries. He got the start in the Gold Medal game, going 0 for 4 as South Korea beat Team USA for the first Premier 12 title. He remained steady in 2016 at .306/.393/.550 (repeating as Gold Glove winner again) then hit .438 in the 2016 Korean Series including a homer off Zach Stewart to start a game 4 rout of the NC Dinos as the Bears pulled off a sweep. He was named Korean Series MVP, the second catcher so honored, following Chae-keun Jang in 1991.
Yang played for South Korea in the 2017 World Baseball Classic; unfortunately, MLB erased all historic WBC stats from their WBC site in a 2020 revision. He fell to .277/.373/.441 in the 2017 KBO. He hit .308/.500/.462 with four runs in five games as South Korea's starting catcher (catching two of five would-be base-stealers) as they reached the finals of the 2018 Asian Games; in the finale, he was 0 for 3 but South Korea beat Japan, 3-0. In the 2018 KBO, he produced at a .358/.427/.585 clip with 84 runs. He was second in average (.004 behind Hyun-soo Kim) and OBP (.030 behind Byung-ho Park), was 10th in slugging and 4th in OPS (between Darin Ruf and Hyun-soo Kim). He won his fourth Gold Glove; only Man-soo Lee, Dong-soo Kim and Min-ho Kang had more at catcher by this point.
A free agent, he moved to the NC Dinos in 2019 and remained dominant at .354/.438/.574. He won the batting title (.010 ahead of José Miguel Fernandez), tied Jae-gyun Hwang for 10th in homers (20), led in OBP (.022 ahead of Baek-ho Kang), led in slugging (.014 ahead of Byung-ho Park) and obviously led in OPS (53 ahead of Byung-ho Park). He moved within one of Dong-soo Kim's record for KBO Gold Gloves behind the dish. He had surprising struggles in the 2019 Premier 12, when South Korea finished second (but won a spot in the 2020 Olympics, which were later delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic). Starting for South Korea, he was just 2 for 23 with 3 walks, two times plunked, a double, a run and a RBI, though he played error-free defense. His lone hits came off Freddy Asiel Álvarez and Brian Flynn.
He kept on rolling in 2020 at .328/.400/.603 with 33 home runs and 124 RBI. He was 10th in average, tied Jeong Choi for 4th in circuit clouts, was second in RBI (11 behind Mel Rojas Jr.), was 9th in OBP (between Min-woo Park and Jamie Romak), was second in slugging (.077 behind Rojas) and was 3rd in OPS (after Rojas and Hyoung-woo Choi). He had several clutch hits in the 2020 Korean Series as NC won its first title, beating his old Bears team. He was the fifth two-time Series MVP, following Yong-soo Kim (1990 and 1994), Jong-beom Lee (1993 and 1997), Min-tae Chung (1998 and 2003) and Seung-hwan Oh (2005 and 2011).