Since the inception of professional baseball in 1982, Samsung has been a powerhouse. Even when they didn’t win championships easily, no one looked down on them.
Since the 2000s, it has been the strongest team in professional baseball. Of their eight championships, seven have come since the 2000s. In particular, from 2011 onward, they won four consecutive titles.
However, after a setback in the 2015 Korean Series, a long downward spiral began. They finished ninth twice and eighth twice. This year was even worse. It finished the first half in last place. They are five games behind ninth-place Kiwoom. There are growing worries that the team could finish last for the first time since its inception. Some Samsung fans even organized a truck protest to demand the manager’s resignation.
In 80 games, the team has 31 wins, 49 losses, and a winning percentage of just 0.388. The team has scored 325 runs and conceded 402 runs for a goal differential of -77 points. The offense ranks ninth in batting average (0.252) and last in on-base percentage (0.322), while the pitching staff is dead last in ERA (4.56), home runs (65), and runs allowed.
Thinner roster, harder to rebuild
Samsung’s struggles are nothing new. After Cheil Industries took control of the organization in 2016, the team aimed to become self-sustaining and became a completely different team from the “Donseong” (a nickname for spending a lot of money) of the past. Ultimately, this change may have contributed to their decline.
That said, it’s hard to believe that a team that was in contention for the title and finished third in the 2021 season could fall so quickly.
Many experts believe the answer lies in a thinning roster. Not holding onto internal free agents Kim Sang-soo (KT) and Oh Sun-jin (Hanwha) last winter left the infield lacking experience and weight. They even traded for Lee Won-seok (Kiwoom) to bolster their bullpen early in the season, but eventually realized their infield was shaky and traded for catcher Kim Tae-gun (KIA) earlier this month to acquire Ryu Ji-hyuk.
Rebuilding is not an excuse for stagnation. Among the younger players, Kim Hyun-joon and Kim Ji-chan have been playing well, but they didn’t come out of nowhere this season. In the pitching staff, there are no new discoveries this season.
The trio of foreigners have held up well, but aside from David Buchanan, Albert Suarez and Jose Pirela haven’t been as good as they were last year. Add to that a bullpen struggle centered around Oh Seung-hwan, who has struggled with three blown saves, three losses, and a 4.80 ERA.
“Oh Jae-il resurrected, Guzauk must protect the batting order”
Even bleaker is the lack of a clear turnaround in the second half. The team will have to hope that its younger players, including Oh Jae-il (0.183 batting average) and reserve free agent Kang Kang-ul (0.211), can step up to the plate. On the mound, the team will also need pitchers to wake up if they want to find a way out.
MBC Sports Plus commentator Yang Jun-hyuk, formerly known as ‘Yang Shin’ as a Samsung Legend, spoke to Star News about Samsung’s prospects in the second half of the season, saying, “There could be a slump at any time, but I think this period could be prolonged due to the incomplete composition of the team,” adding, “It’s a shame that we missed a player we should have had, like Kim Sang-soo. Depth is our weakness, and we don’t have enough players. Not only in the first team but also in the Futures, I don’t see players who can hit long balls and spray 150 kilometers per hour balls. We need to develop these players,” he said.
“I think the club management is more responsible for the lack of results than the coach. “The water is muddy, and you can’t change it by trying to change the meat,” he said. “We’re going in the wrong direction. There are no answers. The rebuilding issue is also not successful by 스포츠토토 forcibly giving (opportunities) to young players.”
SPOTV commentator Min Hoon-ki said, “I predicted Samsung to finish last from the beginning of the season. “The simplest indicator of a team’s strength is goal differential, and Samsung is in last place with -77 points, which was quite predictable. It was quite predictable.”
However, Min said, “Assuming the players follow through, I think we should decide on the main bullpen positions, left and right setup men, and closers.” “The starting lineup is competitive, but the bullpen can’t hold up in tight games because the batting lineup is unstable. We need Oh Jae-il to bounce back and Koo Jae-rook to be consistent in the lineup. We have a lot of young and talented players, so if veterans like Kang Min-ho lead well and the bullpen is divided, we might be able to show some competitiveness,” he said.