Teen sensation captures Korean baseball's top rookie award in landslide

By Yonhap
  • Published : Nov 6, 2017 - 15:06
  • Updated : Nov 6, 2017 - 15:06

A teenage sensation captured South Korean baseball's top rookie award in a landslide on Monday.

Nexen Heroes' outfielder Lee Jung-hoo was voted Rookie of the Year in the 2017 Korea Baseball Organization season at the annual awards ceremony in Seoul on Monday. The 19-year-old earned 503 total points out of the maximum 535, winning 98 out of 107 first-place votes.

The first-place vote was worth five points, the second-place vote three points, and the third-place vote was good for one point.

Lotte Giants' right-hander Kim Won-jung finished a distant second with 141 points after going 7-8 with a 5.70 ERA. KT Wiz's infielder Jung Hyun was third with 113 points. He batted .300 in 124 games with six home runs and 42 RBIs.

Nexen Heroes` outfielder Lee Jung-hoo gives his acceptance speech after winning the Rookie of the Year award in the Korea Baseball Organization at a ceremony in Seoul on Nov. 6, 2017. (Yonhap)

Lee is the third Nexen player to win the top rookie prize after Seo Geon-chang in 2012 and Shin Jae-young in 2016.

Lee was a no-brainer choice as the top rookie this year, after his record-breaking season.

He established single-season rookie records for hits with 179 and runs scored with 111. He ranked third in both categories overall in the KBO.

Lee also batted a robust .324 to rank 13th in the league. No other freshman came close to matching Lee's gaudy offensive numbers across the board.

Lee became the first rookie out of high school to play an entire season in his first year, appearing in all 144 games for the Heroes.

"I'd like to thank my coaching staff for putting me in the lineup all season," Lee said after accepting the award. "I also learned so much from my teammates. They offered me great advice all season long. I'll try to become an even better player next year."

Before this season, Lee's biggest claim to fame was being the son of a KBO legend Lee Jong-beom, the 1993 and 1997 Korean Series MVP and the 1994 regular season MVP.

Now the teenage son has something his father doesn't. The senior Lee finished second in the Rookie of the Year voting in 1993, despite setting a rookie record with 73 steals.

Lee Jung-hoo had mainly been a shortstop in high school like his father, but did play some outfield as well. As a pro, Lee became a full-time outfielder, and then became an All-Star center fielder in his first season. (Yonhap)