Kia has had a 36-year drought…teams that haven’t had a rookie champion in 30 years-22 years, no luck this year?
1992 and 2000, the last years we crowned a rookie king. It’s been more than 20 and 30 years.
KIA Tigers pitcher Lee Yi-ri won the 2021 KBO Rookie of the Year award. The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the players who have the most outstanding performance among those who have been in the league for five years or less, pitchers for 30 innings, and batters for 60 regular season at-bats.
Lee’s Rookie of the Year honor was especially special because it was the first time in 36 years that a Tigers player won the award. Lee Soon-cheol was the first and only rookie to win the title in 1985, when he played for the predecessor Hattae Tigers. Since then, the team hasn’t produced one in more than 30 years. Even “baseball genius” Lee Jong-beom didn’t win a rookie award.
While KIA has solved the 36-year-long mystery, there are other teams that are just as thirsty for a Rookie of the Year as KIA. These are the Lotte Giants and SSG Landers. Lotte last won the Rookie of the Year award in 1992 with Yeom Jong-seok. With Lee Yi-ri winning the award, Lotte now holds the title of the team that hasn’t produced a Rookie of the Year for the longest time.
The second oldest team is SSG. Including their predecessor, the SK Wyverns, they have only had one Rookie of the Year, Lee Seung-ho, in 2000, the year of their founding. Lee was honored as Rookie of the Year in the team’s inaugural season, but at the time, SK finished last in the eight-team league with a 0.338 team winning percentage, and Lee was the only one with bragging rights. The team hasn’t won the award since. Kim Kwang-hyun also failed to win the award that year, losing out to Lim Tae-hoon (Doosan).
Aside from these two teams, the oldest team is the Hanwha Eagles. They had two “monster rookies” in Kim Tae-gyun in 2001 and Ryu Hyun-jin in 2006, but haven’t been heard from since. This year, however, Hanwha is the team most likely to produce its first Rookie of the Year in 17 years. That’s because of Moon Dong-ju. Moon was a rookie who joined the team last year, but he met the requirements to be named Rookie of the Year again this year. With an 8-8 record and a 3.72 ERA in 23 games, he has shown improvement from last year and is a strong candidate for the No. 1 spot.
Moon Dong-joo is the favorite, but the only other candidate who can compete with him is KIA’s Yoon Young-chul. Yoon has an 8-5 record with a 4.13 ERA in 20 games, which doesn’t compare favorably to Moon’s objective performance. However, Moon was placed on the disabled list for the regular season, and Yoon still has room for improvement depending on how he performs in the remaining games. This is especially true for the Rookie of the Year award.스포츠토토
While this year’s Rookie of the Year is likely to be a two-horse race between Hanwha and KIA, Lotte and SSG have their work cut out for them. Lotte had some of the best rookies this year, including Kim Min-seok and Yoon Dong-hee, but their performances faltered in the second half of the year, while SSG’s highly touted Lee Rin and Song Young-jin have fallen out of contention.
‘Rookie of the Year’ is a battle of egos. It signifies a team’s ability to find, refine, and develop good rookies. When will the longtime ‘undefeated’ teams get their wish?