Aside from Shohei Ohtani, who is the hallmark of the upcoming 2023-2024 Major League Baseball free agency, there is a shortage of big outfielders who can both hit and run. That’s why Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom) is becoming more valuable. This was not his intention, but it happened.
The best outfielder is undoubtedly Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs). Bellinger is also the favorite for best beast. Bellinger is one of the players that many columnists have ranked behind the undisputed No. 1, Ohtani. After winning the National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2019, Bellinger went into an inexplicable slump from 2020 to last year. His batting mechanics collapsed after a shoulder injury and his batting average dropped significantly, leading some to say “Bellinger is done.”
Bellinger, who was eventually released by the Dodgers, had a breakout year with the Cubs. He started the season with a low batting average and an ambiguous position in the lineup, but his batting average improved as the season went on. His agent, Scott Boras, has been touting Bellinger’s resurgence and has his fingers firmly on the pulse of free agency.
But Bellinger isn’t the only outfielder on the market. Different columnists and outlets have different opinions on the No. 2 outfielder. That’s why Keith Law, a prominent columnist for The Athletic, a North American sports publication, made an interesting ranking on Wednesday. He ranked Lee as the No. 2 outfielder behind Bellinger. He was also ranked 10th overall. It’s worth noting that other outlets usually rank Lee in the middle of the top 10.
Law, a veteran columnist and one of the best at reflecting what scouts on the field are saying, ranked Ohtani first and Bellinger second in his free agent rankings. Then, unlike other columnists, he went easy on the pitchers. Aaron Nola was third, Yoshinobu Yamamoto fourth, Sonny Gray fifth, Jordan Montgomery sixth, Blake Snell seventh, and Eduardo Rodriguez eighth. Third baseman Matt Chapman, the biggest name in the infield, was ninth and Jung-Hoo Lee was 10th.
About Lee, Law said, “Lee led the league with a 5.1% strikeout rate in 2022, when no one else (in the KBO) had a strikeout rate below 8%, and won the MVP award. He has excellent hand-eye coordination that has made him one of the best pure hitters in the KBO over the past few seasons. This means he has a good eye for the ball and the hitting skills to turn it into a hit. Most scouts agree that Lee has good hand-eye coordination.
‘He has hit double-digit home runs only twice in seven seasons in the hitter-friendly KBO. 23 in 2022 is his career high. He’s a contact hitter with anomalous power,” and “He’s strong enough to hit for extra bases, but he needs to add enough muscle to deviate from his normal swing and approach to generate power over the fence.
Outside of power, the reviews were mostly favorable. “He’s a competent defender in center field. However, he’s not very fast and doesn’t have a lot of range, so he could be a corner outfielder in 토토 the majors,” and “He’s the best hitter in Korea right now. The pitchers he’s facing aren’t major league quality, but he’s done everything you could ask of a hitter in that environment. He makes a lot of hard contact and rarely swings and misses,” praising his hitting ability.