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American ace captures Triple Crown, veteran earns 1st career batting title in KBO

Oct. 17, 2023 - 21:55 By Yonhap
NC Dinos starter Erick Fedde pitches against the Hanwha Eagles during a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 10, 2023. (Yonhap)

A first-year American pitcher made history, and a veteran outfielder captured his first career batting title, as the 2023 South Korean baseball regular season drew to a conclusion Tuesday night.

NC Dinos starter Erick Fedde became the first foreign pitcher, and only the fourth pitcher overall, to win the Triple Crown in Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) history, as the league leader in wins, ERA and strikeouts.

Fedde finished with 20 wins, 209 strikeouts and a 2.00 ERA. He is also the fifth pitcher, and the first non-Korean pitcher, to record at least 20 wins and 200 strikeouts in a KBO season.

The former major league pitcher is a strong regular season MVP candidate, after helping the Dinos return to the postseason for the first time since their championship-winning campaign of 2020.

Among relief pitchers, SSG Landers closer Seo Jin-yong led the way with 42 saves. Oh Seung-hwan of the Samsung Lions had 30 saves to reach an even 400 for his career, the highest total in league history. It was Oh's eighth-career 30-save season, more than anyone in the KBO.

The Dinos also produced a batting champion in Son Ah-seop, who finished with a .339 average. Son, 35, is the oldest first-time batting champ. A lifetime .321 hitter through 2022, Son had been in the top 10 in batting average seven times before his breakthrough this year.

Son also led the KBO in hits for the fourth time, collecting 187 hits to hold off Kim Hye-seong of the Kiwoom Heroes by one.

Roh Si-hwan, 22-year-old slugger for the Hanwha Eagles, captured his first home run title with 31, two more than Choi Jeong of the Landers. Roh held on for the crown despite missing some two weeks of action while playing at the Asian Games in China earlier this month. Roh finished with 131 games and Choi, while battling injuries, only played 128 games.

Roh also topped the KBO with 101 RBIs, the only player to surpass the century mark this year. Socrates Brito of the Kia Tigers finished in second place with 96.

Roh is the third-youngest player in league to have 30 homers and 100 RBIs in the same season.

Choi held off Roh for the league lead in slugging percentage at .548. The two finished with an identical .388 on-base percentage, which gave Choi the league-best on-base plus slugging (OPS) at .936. It's the lowest OPS to lead the KBO since 1989.

Hong Chang-ki of the LG Twins had the league's highest on-base percentage at .444, powered by his league-leading 88 walks. Hong had also led the KBO in both categories with a .456 on-base percentage and 109 walks in 2021.

Doosan Bears speedster Jung Soo-bin led everyone with 39 steals, his first steals title at age 33.