It is never easy to develop a solid starting catcher in baseball. In addition to basic abilities such as leading the pitcher and coordinating the positions of defense and fielders, one must also have the mentality to not waver in a game. Especially in short-term games such as the postseason (PS), the fate of the team can be determined by the catcher’s capabilities, so the shoulders of the home manager are quite heavy.
The starting catchers of NC Dinos and Doosan Bears, who will play the wild card (WC) game at Changwon NC Park on the 19th, also went through the same process and reached their current positions. It is also noticeable that the career of Yang Eui-ji (36, Doosan), the best current catcher, influenced the baseball path of Park Se-hyuk (33, NC). This is why the home battle in this WC deciding game is attracting attention.
In 2012, when Park Se-hyuk made his first professional debut, Yang Eui-ji was Doosan’s starting catcher. Naturally, Park Se-hyuk’s role was limited to backup. After completing his service in the Armed Forces Athletic Corps (Sangmu), he showed stability and grew every time he put on his mask due to injuries to Yang Eui-ui, but he was unable to take over his starting position.
After the 2018 season, a ‘flower path’ opened for Park Se-hyuk. Yang Eui-ji did not miss the opportunity he had when he qualified as a free agent and transferred to NC. He led Doosan’s regular season-Korean Series (KS) combined championship in 2019, and was recognized for his skills by consistently leading the team to the KS until 2021. Meanwhile, Yang Eui-ji solidified his image as a ‘complete catcher’ by protecting NC’s home base and leading the team to a combined championship in 2020. Achieved 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for two consecutive years from 2020 to 2021. Yang Eui-ji’s transfer to NC was a ‘win-win’ for both.
Yang Eui-ji, who again qualified as a free agent after the 2022 season, returned to Doosan. Park Se-hyuk also moved to NC, where Yang Eui-ji had been at home for four years, through free agency. This season, in which they swapped uniforms, both NC (4th place) and Doosan (5th place), who failed to play fall baseball last year, returned to the PS stage. This is the first home match between the two in three years since KS in 2020.
Yang Eui-ji is far ahead in terms of performance this season. He posted a batting average of .305 (134 hits in 439 at-bats), 17 home runs, 68 RBI, and an on-base percentage of .396 in 129 games. He also posted a steal-to-base percentage of 37.8% (45 attempts, 17 interceptions) while wearing the mask over 773 innings. In 88 games, Park Se-hyuk recorded a batting average of 0.211 (51 hits in 242 at-bats), 6 home runs, 32 RBI, and an on-base percentage of 0.307, and maintained a home run for 620 innings, recording a base stealing percentage of 27.5% (69 attempts, 19 interceptions). It is unfortunate that Park Se-hyuk was absent for a long period of time due to a wrist injury at the end of the season.안전놀이터
Regardless of their grades, their experience had a significant impact on the team. Through this season, Doosan and NC’s young pitchers have grown significantly. This is thanks to Yang Eui-ji and Park Se-hyuk sharing know-how gained through long experience and constantly communicating with pitchers to achieve optimal results. I am curious to see how interesting the battle of wits between the two veteran catchers will make this year’s WC deciding game.