Lotte has a man called ‘Warrior’… 5.6 billion contract success, retirement at Lotte?

Lotte manager Larry Sutton doesn’t hesitate to call Ahn Chi-hong (34, Lotte), the team’s leadoff hitter, a warrior. He has a warrior’s temperament.

It’s a slightly different kind of warrior than the wild and fierce warrior we usually think of. Ahn Qi Hong is not a very talkative player. He doesn’t show much emotion on the field. The same is true off the field. Sutton describes him as an internally strong player. He’s always silent and does his best, which in some ways goes hand in hand with the word warrior.

“I would say he’s a quiet leader, he’s not a big talker,” Sutton said. He’s not a cheerful, outgoing personality, but he shows leadership through his actions,” Sutton said. “He gives his best in training and matches, and he works hard behind the scenes. He’s also a player who doesn’t complain. If he has a sore spot, he doesn’t show it without asking. Even if he doesn’t feel 100%, he comes to work every day and prepares as if he’s going to compete,” he continued.

Now in his mid-30s, Ahn’s influence still reverberates around Sajik Stadium. He still brings a positive energy to the team’s batting lineup while providing leadership to the team. So far this year, he’s batting .296 with six home runs, 53 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.780 in 97 games. That’s the best offensive production of any player on the team with regular at-bats alongside Jeon. He may not be flashy, but he’s always where he needs to be.

He was at the center of Lotte’s batting explosion in August. As a veteran, you’d think he’d have less stamina, but he stepped up to the plate in the heat of August and led the team to a strong showing. In 15 games in August, Ahn is batting .389 with three home runs and 12 RBIs. His calm and explosive bat has proven to be an integral part of the team’s offense, with 10 four-pitch at-bats while striking out six times.

A 2+2-year contract totaling 5.6 billion won with Lotte ahead of the 2020 season is also being successfully finalized. Ahn Chi-hong, whose negotiations with his former team, KIA, were stalled at the time, made a splash by signing an unprecedented deal with Lotte. Instead of signing a four-year contract, which has been the norm in the past, Ahn signed a 2+2-year deal, giving each side time to reconsider after the first two years. It is remembered as the first example of the KBO’s diversification of free-agent contracts.

Not much thought went into it. Before the first two years were up, in the middle of the 2021 season, they mutually agreed to execute the remaining two years. It was a deal that symbolized that Lotte needed him, and he was happy in Lotte, and over the course of nearly four years, he played in 472 games, batting .293 with 38 home runs, 247 RBIs, 222 runs scored, and an OPS of .793. There were nagging injuries, but no major ones.

During this time, and this season, Ahn has proven that he is still the player Lotte needs. Since 2020, only Jeon Jun-woo (505 games) has played more games than Ahn Chi-hong. He is second to Jeon in hits and runs scored, and third in RBIs behind Jeon and Lee Dae-ho. Among Lotte players who played more than 300 games during this period, Ahn Chi-hong is the only one with more walks than strikeouts. In addition, Ahn played quite a few games at second base, a position with a relatively high defensive burden.

Ahn will be eligible for free agency again after this season. This will be his second free agency in his career. It’s hard to say how much Ahn will be valued on the market, and we’ll have to wait and see. However, Lotte’s internal evaluation is said to be good. There is a problem that his defense range is narrowing due to his age. However, his offensive production has remained steady. The curve itself is not particularly steep. His defense is not insignificant either, with 105 games at second base last year and 75 games at second base this year.메이저사이트

Most importantly, there are no younger players on the team who are ready to push him out. There have been instances where infielders have been moved to the outfield because of Ahn’s presence, but there’s no denying that he’s an integral part of the team’s second base and infield. So, it’s possible that they’ll turn to him again to hold down the fort while they prepare for the next generation. His value as a leader will only increase if he leads the team to the postseason this year.

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