In a season of high-octane offense that has left managers and pitchers alike shuddering with fear, some significant milestones remain in sight in the top South Korean baseball league.
Park Byung-ho, the slugging first baseman for the Nexen Heroes, could bag his third straight Korea Baseball Organization MVP honors in 2014.
After hitting 31 homers in 2012 and 37 in 2013, Park is already sitting at 30 home runs this year after 82 games.
|Nexen’s Park Byung-ho (Yonhap)|
Park reached 25 homers by June 7 and then hit his 29th homer on June 27, before going nine games without leaving the yard.
The durable one never missed a game in each of the past two seasons and has played in every game so far this year. With 51 games remaining, he still has an outside shot at reaching the coveted 50-homer plateau.
Only two players have hit more than 50 homers in a KBO season.
Lee Seung-yuop of the Samsung Lions, the league’s all-time homer leader with 377, set a KBO record with 54 in 1999 and broke it himself with 56 in 2003. Shim Chong-soo, then of the Hyundai Unicorns, engaged in an epic duel with Lee in 2003 and ended up with 53 homers.
With Park chasing the long ball mark, Lee Jae-won of the SK Wyverns is after the elusive .400 batting average.
He closed out the first half at league-leading .394, having played in 79 of the team’s 83 games.
Baek In-chun, who batted .412 in 72 games in the inaugural KBO season in 1982, remains the only player here to bat better than .400 in a season.
Kim Joo-chan of the Kia Tigers is right behind Lee at .389.
Another Nexen player, second baseman Seo Geon-chang, is on pace to become the first KBO player ever to get 200 hits in a season. (Yonhap)