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Bears catcher Yang Eui-ji wins 9th Golden Glove, 1 shy of KBO record

Dec. 11, 2023 - 20:18 By Yonhap
Yang Eui-ji (Yonhap)

Doosan Bears catcher Yang Eui-ji captured his ninth career Golden Glove on Monday, moving within one of tying the record in the Korea Baseball Organization.

Yang collected 214 out of 291 votes cast by members of KBO media, beating out LG Twins backstop Park Dong-won, who earned 63 votes.

Yang has won a record eight Golden Gloves as catcher and one as designated hitter. Only Lee Seung-yuop, former Samsung Lions slugger and Yang's current manager with the Bears, has won more Golden Gloves than Yang with 10.

At 36 years, six months and six days old, Yang also became the oldest catcher to win a Golden Glove.

"I'm really grateful for this honor. I will try to set a good example for younger athletes on and off the field," Yang said. "I hope manager Lee will have more to cheer about next year, and I'll try to put the team back on top."

Lee said he would love to see Yang break his record by 2025.

"For someone who is retired, the record for most Golden Gloves doesn't mean anything," Lee said. "I hope Eui-ji takes care of his body and gets to 11 Golden Gloves."

Despite the connotation of the name, Golden Gloves are presented annually to the best overall players at each position, with offense often taking precedence over defense. Yang, though, is widely considered among the best defensive catchers in the KBO, too. He won the inaugural KBO Fielding Award at his position last month.

The shortstop position was hotly contested, with Oh Ji-hwan of the LG Twins bearing out Park Chan-ho of the Kia Tigers 154-120 for his second straight Golden Glove.

Oh and Park had similar offensive profiles, though Oh hit for slightly more power (eight homers to three homers) and Park hit for a higher average (.301 to .268).

Oh, who won the Korean Series MVP after helping the Twins end their 29-year title drought, said the Golden Glove put a nice cap on a memorable season.

"I really wanted to win this as a way to finish off this great year," Oh said. "But I felt Chan-ho had better numbers, and I want to thank him for pushing me so hard. I feel like I have a lot to learn from him."

Oh's teammate at first base, Austin Dean, earned the highest percentage of votes, as he garnered 93.1 percent of support (271 votes) for his first Golden Glove.

Another no-brainer choice came at pitcher, where Erick Fedde, the regular season most valuable player winner for the NC Dinos, earned 267 votes (91.8 percent).

Fedde won the pitching Triple Crown by leading the KBO with 20 wins, 209 strikeouts and a 2.00 ERA. He recently signed a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox.

Kim Hye-seong of the Kiwoom Heroes won his third straight Golden Glove overall and second straight at second base with 259 votes. At third base, Roh Si-hwan of the Hanwha Eagles, the MVP runner-up who topped the league with 31 homers and 101 RBIs, nabbed his first Golden Glove with 245 votes.

The three winners in the outfield were: Hong Chang-ki of the Twins (258), Koo Ja-wook of the Lions (185) and Park Kun-woo of the Dinos (139).

Hong led the KBO with a .444 on-base percentage and 109 runs. Koo ranked second in the batting average and on-base percentage, and fourth in the slugging percentage. Park was seventh in batting race and ninth in RBIs.

Son Ah-seon of the Dinos, who won his first career batting title with a .339 average, won the designated hitter category with 255 votes.