Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop, who led the LG Twins to the top in the KBO League for the first time in 29 years, dreams of another leap forward in the new year of Gapjin (甲辰年), putting aside the happy memories of 2023. He is cautious, but he also expressed confidence to win the title for the second consecutive year.
“The process of winning the title and preparing for the new season is clearly different from before,” manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said in an interview after the 2024 LG Twins New Year’s greeting held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Tuesday afternoon. “I had a great time after winning the title. But that happiness is over and it is a new beginning.”
LG earned 87 wins, 55 losses, two draws, and a winning rate of 0.613, ranking second along with the most wins in the team’s regular league in the 2022 season. As the team was evaluated as the strongest ever, LG seemed to be able to advance to the Korean Series by banking on its momentum.
However, the playoff was the end of LG’s journey for the fall of the 2022 season. The team lost to Kiwoom Heroes, who were considered inferior in terms of power, with one win and three losses. The team won the first round but failed to advance to the Korean Series after losing the second, third and fourth games to Kiwoom. It has failed to make it to the highest stage in autumn for 21 consecutive seasons since 2002.
Ahead of the 2023 season, LG has sought a new head coach instead of renewing his contract with former coach Ryu Ji-hyun. He pitched a game-winner to let Yeom Kyung-yeop, former coach of the SK Wyverns (currently SSG Landers), take the helm.
Yeom Kyung-yeop was surprisingly appointed as the head coach of Kiwoom in the 2013 season, drawing attention from many people. Up until then, only star players and franchise stars could join the ranks of a professional baseball manager, so the birth of Yeom Kyung-yeop surprised many people.
As soon as he took the helm of Kiwoom, Yeom Kyung-yeop led the team to advance to the post season for the first time since its foundation. In the following year, he put his team on the stage of the Korean Series, demonstrating his leadership.
Even after shortstop Kang Jung-ho, who shot 40 home runs in the 2014 season, left for the Major League, Kiwoom took the fall baseball stage under manager Yeom Kyung-yeop. In the 2016 season, Kiwoom succeeded in advancing to the postseason despite the fact that the team’s power deteriorated to the all-time level in the KBO league due to the transfers of Park Byung-ho, Yoo Han-joon and Son Seung-rak and surgeries of Cho Sang-woo and Han Hyun-hee.
Coach Yeom Kyung-yeop’s career, which had only been on a flowery path, slowed down after taking the helm of the SK Wyverns in 2019. SK sought to win the 2019 season for the second consecutive year after winning the Korean Series in the 2018 season, but fell to second place after falling behind Doosan Bears on the final day of the regular season, before collapsing to Kiwoom for three consecutive losses in the playoffs.
Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop left the team due to voluntary resignation as his team fell to the bottom of the list in the 2020 season and his health deteriorated. After serving as TV commentator and chairman of the KBO technical committee, he was hired as LG’s winning contractor for the 2023 season.
When he was appointed as the head coach of LG, he was not welcomed by many fans. He was mired in sluggish performance during the SK Wyverns and allegations that he formed factional factions within his team when he was the front desk of LG and coach (2008-2011).헤라카지노
Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop, however, said the result. Under manager Yeom Kyung-yeop, LG Electronics ranked first in the pennant race with 86 wins, 56 losses, two draws, and a winning rate of 0.606. It was the first time in 29 years since 1994. It was also the first time in 21 years that the team advanced to the Korean Series since 2002.
Coach Yeom Kyung-yeop’s judgment and determination shone in the fall baseball league as well. When ace Adam Plutko refused to take the mound after the start of the second half of the year, saying he was not feeling well, he boldly excluded Plutko from the Korean Series. For the same reason, Plutko did not take the mound before the postseason in the 2022 season, and his worst pitching in the second round of the playoffs contributed to LG’s failure to advance to the Korean Series.
Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop overcame a critical juncture during the Korean Series by maximizing the use of bullpen. He defeated KT Wiz with four wins and one loss overall in the series and relieved LG of its championship title. Manager Yeom Kyung-yeop himself took off the title of “master without winning” and faced the best moment of his career as a leader.
“I made my professional debut as a player in 1991, and I had the happiest time in my 33-year professional baseball career,” manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said after looking back on last year. “I gained confidence rather than burden this year. Players also had good experiences and I can start 2024 with stronger composition in each part,” he said.
“Ko Woo-suk is out, but the starting pitcher, bullpen, and center line have been fully equipped with conditions that strong teams can afford. The closing pitcher has not been decided yet, but I don’t think it’s lagging behind any other team,” he said in a high evaluation of LG’s performance.
Yeom Kyung-yeop’s goal for 2024 is clear. The primary goal is to rank No. 1 in pennant races and have the most wins in regular season history. If he goes straight to the Korean Series after surpassing LG’s 87 wins (55 losses, two draws) in 2022, he will achieve his second goal of winning the title for two consecutive years.
No team in the KBO League has topped the Korean Series for two consecutive years since the Doosan Bears in 2015-2016. In the 2020s, even the “defending champion” is showing a trend that cannot guarantee next season’s performance immediately, with the NC Dinos failing to advance to the postseason for two consecutive years after its first unified victory in the 2020 season.
“In fact, if I had been greedy last year, I could have won the most games in the regular season,” manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said. “However, rather than trying to win more games in the remaining games, I tried to fill in the necessary parts for the team before the Korean Series. I postponed the most wins to this year, but my goal is to achieve them.”
“I’m more confident this year because I made a lot of results about aggressive baseball last year,” he said, adding, “The big framework will not change, but we’re trying to increase efficiency through thinking baseball.”