“The national team failed to change generations”? I checked to see if it really is

“Until when, it will be Kim Gwang-hyun and Yang Hyeon-jong. Now there are a lot of young players, actually talented players. “

The beginning was the remarks of Choo Shin-soo, the eldest brother of the KBO League. I came out on a Korean radio broadcast in the United States and criticized the selection of the WBC national team and pointed out the need for a generational change, and the aftermath of this remark grew into a wave. Kim Hyun-soo, who was pointed out by Choo Shin-soo as one of the “players who shouldn’t have been selected,” expressed uncomfortable feelings, saying, “All generational changes must occur naturally,” and “It is right for a player with skills to participate (in the national team).” “I tried to make it with players who can do it,” he said, “I think (the current member) is ideal.”

In the broadcast, Choo Shin-soo defended even Woo-jin An, who was excluded from the national team due to the ‘controversy over school violence’, saying, “Forgiveness is not easy in Korea.” He said that he made an overly careless remark as a senior baseball player, but many opinions were gathered. Here, after receiving military service benefits from the gold medal in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, the ‘history’ of not playing as a national team member, as well as the issue of military service of his two sons of American nationality, came to the fore. has spread to a completely different place.

However, before I completely forget it, I would like to point it out once more.

What is Generational Transition?

According to the standard dictionary of the Korean language, generational change means “the new generation takes turns with the old generation and becomes the protagonist of something.” Substituting it for baseball would mean a situation where younger players have a more important role on the team than veteran players. Then, how can we check whether the generation change is going well? Let’s first look at the easiest way, through the average age of the national team players.

The average age of the WBC squad in 2023 is 29.4 years old. It is more than the 2000 Sydney Olympic team (26.1 years old), the youngest team since 2000, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic team (26.5 years old), which won the gold medal, but the 2017 WBC national team (30.9 years old) and 2013 WBC national team (29.8 years old) ), and there is no big difference from the 2006 WBC national team (29.1 years old) who wrote the legend of the semifinals. Of course, in the case of hitters, it is true that the oldest lineup ever (31.7 years old) was built. However, the pitching staff (27.1 years old) is the third youngest after Beijing (24.6 years) in 2008 and Sydney (26.3 years) in 2000. To sum up, when looking at the average age alone, it is not a ‘splashing value’ enough to say that this WBC national team failed to change generations.

If so, what did Choo Shin-soo see and talk about ‘the national team needs a generational change’? Maybe he wanted to talk about the peculiarity hidden in the composition of the WBC national team, invisible to the ‘average’.

The disappearance of the prime generation

When was a baseball player’s prime? There are differences depending on the position and individual players, but it is known to be in the late 20s to early 30s. After debuting as a pro and passing through the early 20s, where experience and skills are gradually accumulating, there is a so-called ‘aging curve’, a trend in which athletic ability declines and power gradually declines. Of course, the age of the players selected for the national team is also the largest in this age group. However, the case of the 2023 WBC team was a little different.

The 26- to 32-year-old section, which can be called the ‘peak age’, always occupied the absolute majority of the national team. During the three tournaments from 2015 to 2017, 19 out of 28 players, that is, 2/3 of the roster, were filled by players of this age, and in Sydney in 2000, when the youngest team was formed, Koo Dae-seong, who led the bronze medal with a complete win with 1 run in 9 innings ( 31 years old at the time), half of the squad was filled with players aged 26-32.

This trend starts to break from the Tokyo Olympics two years ago. It was still an absolute majority, but the 50% barrier was broken for the first time since 2000. It was also the first time that the percentage of players over 33 exceeded one-third. And finally, after coming to the national team this year, players in their prime age have become the rarest species to see. A total of seven players between the ages of 26 and 32 were selected for the WBC national team. Considering that one of them is Choi Ji-man (32 years old), who is being reviewed for selection as a substitute player, and the other is Korean-American Tommy Edman (28 years old), who joined the national team for the first time in history, Ko Young-pyo ( Only five will remain: Kim Won-joong (30 years old), Park Se-woong (28 years old), Kim Ha-seong (28 years old), and Koo Chang-mo (26 years old). Instead, a lot of prospects under the age of 25 (11 people, 36.7%) were selected, and an unprecedented number of veterans under the age of 33 (12 people, 40%) were selected.

Formation of the ‘Valley Generation’ and the national team

Looking at the composition of the national team where the ‘heyday players’ are missing, I think I know what Choo Shin-soo was trying to say. However, this also does not seem to be the basis that the generational change of the national team has not been done well. This is because the 26-32 year old players currently playing in the KBO league belong to the so-called ‘Valley Generation’, influenced by the soccer boom after the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup.

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? Now, a year later, it has entered ‘just right’ in the 26-32 years old prime period. Last year, the total contribution to victory (WAR) compared to the replacement players created by these players in the KBO League was 111.85. It’s an all-time low compared to all-time WARs taken by players of the same age. It was only half of the level of 2015 when the current 144 game system started, and even fell short of the same age players in the first year of pro play, who only played 80 games. Even though WAR is a performance that accumulates higher values ​​the more matches you play. 먹튀검증

In the end, in a situation where the total amount of talent of players in their prime fell short of expectations, Lee Kang-cheol tried to enhance the national team’s capabilities by recruiting more young players and veterans. It is for this reason that it is not easy to say that the generational change of the national team is slow due to the lack of players in their prime years.

For real generational change…

Of course, that doesn’t mean generational change isn’t important. Kim Gwang-hyeon (35 years old), Yang Hyeon-jong (35 years old), Park Byung-ho (37 years old), and Kim Hyun-soo (35 years old), who will be the main players of the national team, are players who will not be surprised if they retire from the national team at any time. For the success of baseball, which is increasingly neglected by the younger generation, juniors to replace them are desperately needed.

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