Choi Ji-Man (32-Pittsburgh Pirates) has made his presence felt after his rival was traded. After a remarkable comeback from injury, Choi has excelled every time he’s started, and on this day, he looked comfortable at first base.
Choi started at first base in the No. 4 spot in the lineup for the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series against the Philadelphia Phillies at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., on Sept. 29 (KST), going 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.
It was his fourth consecutive game with a hit and an RBI, and he made a strong case for why he should be the starter.안전놀이터
He’s a starter, and he’s hit safely in four straight games.
Choi returned to action earlier this month after nearly three months of rehabilitation following an injury earlier in the season. Despite batting .250 with four home runs, nine RBIs, a .500 on-base percentage, and a .921 OPS in July alone, Choi was literally a “tale of two halves.
Manager Derek Shelton put Choi in a strictly platoon system. He was even benched when left-handed pitchers weren’t starting.
The first base position was firmly in the hands of Carlos Santana, and he had to share the designated hitter spot with Andrew McCutchen.
After Santana left the team in a trade on the 28th, Choi immediately took advantage of the opportunity. He flied out to left field in his first at-bat, but with runners on first and second in the fourth inning, he hit a 92.7 mph (149 km/h) slider that curved toward Zack Wheeler’s body for an RBI double to right field.
He struck out in the seventh and flied out to left field in the ninth, so he didn’t have a multi-hit game (two or more hits in a game), but it was a significant enough performance. He’s been solid every time he’s started, and he’s impressed Shelton. He also raised his batting average from .188 to .191 (13-for-68) on the season.
Santana’s spot will be filled by Choi, who has already shown he can start.
A contender left the team via trade. Pittsburgh traded veteran first baseman Santana to Milwaukee for shortstop prospect Yoenis Severino, 19, on Monday.
Santana signed with Pittsburgh as a free agent last November for one year and $6.75 million. He served as Pittsburgh’s designated hitter this season, batting .235 with 12 home runs, 53 RBIs, a .321 on-base percentage, a .421 slugging percentage, and a .733 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
“Not only did he hit, but he was a top-notch defensive first baseman who played nearly every day,” the Pittsburgh Gazette-Post said, adding that the veteran’s presence will be missed.
“Right now, it looks like Choi is the starting first baseman,” he said, “and he’s in a similar position to Santana in that he’s a veteran and can be an advisor to the team.”
In July, their batting performances were similar. There was some concern that there would be a difference in defense, but Choi shined on the field. Even with a somewhat tricky delivery, he was able to reliably make the catch with his trademark leg-splitting stance. He was also applauded for his defense as he blocked strong balls with his body.
He didn’t get many chances after his injury, but when he did, he showed it. In particular, he impressed in July with his excellent long ball. He will likely get more chances now. Choi’s time is coming.