First ‘Wire to Wire’ winner. The champion of the most perfect 2022 season. However, in just one year, it became a completely different team.

SSG Landers is in total trouble. That’s what baseball is like. Once things start to get twisted, you become so helpless that you can’t find a single advantage, and once things start to unravel, you feel like you can win without end. However, watching SSG’s baseball recently, the games they win are difficult to win and the games they lose are very easy to lose. The power to overwhelm the opponent is not felt at all on the ground.

It is clearly a perfect integrated winning team. The starting members from last year and this year are almost the same, and not much has changed, but the results are completely different. SSG, which was the sole leader at the beginning of the season, is currently pushed to third place. As of the 4th, there is a 7.5 game gap with 1st place LG and a 1.5 game gap with 4th place KIA, which is chasing them. The first half’s performance was 2nd with a winning percentage of 0.590 (46 wins, 1 draw, and 32 losses), but the second half’s performance was only 6th with a winning percentage of 0.424 (14 wins, 19 losses).

▶Absence of ‘Ace’. Where did it go wrong?

The team’s ERA is 4.37, ranking 9th out of 10 teams. In particular, the starting pitchers’ average ERA is last at 4.47. He has the second most home runs in the league with 85, and he ranks first with 482 walks. Of course, WHIP (on-base percentage allowed per inning) is also the lowest at 1.53.

Data is not everything, but it is an indicator that can confirm quite a lot. SSG’s fundamental concern throughout this season was the absence of an ‘ace’. Last year, Wilmer Font played that role. Font was clearly a pitcher who provided ‘ace’ pitching when the team needed it. The standard for an ‘ace’ is not a quality start (less than 3 earned runs in 6 innings). Its role is to block more innings with fewer scores, but this year’s SSG was in trouble from the start.

As Font attempted to enter the major leagues, his contract renewal was canceled, and all three foreign players were replaced. However, Eni Romero, who was expected to take on the role of first starter, was released due to injury without being able to pitch a single game, and a replacement player was brought in.

Kirk McCarty, who has been with him since camp, and Roenis Elias, Romero’s replacement, are clearly good pitchers. His attitude on the team and performance on the mound are also decent. However, it is not enough to be considered an ‘ace’ level pitcher. In addition, Kim Gwang-hyun has not been able to continue his stable pitching due to various factors this season, so there is currently no clear ‘ace’ in SSG. Even though there are consecutive losses, winning streak is one of the rare factors.

▶The light and shadow of the KBO’s oldest team

SSG is the oldest team in the KBO league. The average age of registered players is 28.9 years old, and Choo Shin-soo, the oldest player in the league, also belongs to SSG. There are four players in their 40s (existing Korean age calculation), including Choo Shin-soo, Kim Kang-min, Ko Hyo-jun, and Noh Kyung-eun, but surprisingly, they are still the main players.

It is true that Choo Shin-soo’s batting performance falls short of expectations, but considering his on-base percentage close to .400, it is difficult to replace his ‘leadoff’ ability. In addition, Ko Hyo-jun and Noh Kyung-eun are still the core of the bullpen. This is because among young pitchers in their 20s, there is no one who throws a ball with more stability and control than these.

This is not about forcing opportunities for players in their 40s. This is proof that promising players are not growing enough to push them out and take their places. It’s not that there were no opportunities, but there was no player who took advantage of those opportunities. The season performances of players in their 20s, such as Oh Won-seok, Choi Ji-hoon, and Park Seong-han, who were evaluated as having established themselves as starting players, are also coldly below the club’s expectations. In fact, among the starting players, the only player who is performing better than expected is closing pitcher Seo Jin-yong.먹튀검증

▶Salary cap trap… The multi-year contract and free agency miscalculation

were not neglected. As a result, the salary cap was scheduled to be introduced starting this year right after the championship, and SSG made a long-term plan by signing contracts with Choo Shin-soo and Kim Gwang-hyun and signing multi-year contracts with Hanyu Island’s Moon Seung-won and Park Jong-hoon in advance. The tight salary cap due to the large number of high-paid players was met with selection and concentration measures in free agent contracts.

However, as a result, a miscalculation occurred. Players who signed multi-year contracts fell into a slump and became a sore finger for the club, and the free agent strategy was criticized for failing to properly prepare for vulnerable positions.

SSG proved the formula of ‘investment = performance’ last year with the highest level of player treatment in the league and strong support from the parent company, but this year, as the overall discrepancy occurred, it is suffering from side effects.

▶No more shocks

SSG made the move on the 3rd to send the first team’s main pitching coach and hitting coach to the second team, but it is being pointed out that it is only a change of atmosphere and is not a fundamental solution.

Even on the first day of the coaching change, SSG suffered a crushing defeat of 6 to 8 despite hitting three home runs. Lethargic 4th straight loss. The players clearly show their will and motivation to somehow break the losing streak, but the results are completely different.

Now, the goal is not to win two years in a row, but to restore performance without falling further. Until the first half of the season, there was confidence that ‘if we just ride the winning streak, we can regain the top spot’, but it would be a lie to say that we are not nervous now.

The team name may have changed, but Landers still remembers the Wyverns’ shock in 2019. We need to build up again from a long-term perspective.

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