The reason why the entire KBO League in the 2022 season rode the trend of’To Go Tazer’ was above all because of the change in the strike zone. Last year, the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) refereeing committee moved before the season. In February, when the spring camp was in progress, KBO referees visited the training grounds of each club and held a briefing session on the expansion of the strike zone. Since the start of the season, the strike zone has been a top priority. In particular, as the number of high-course strike calls increased significantly, tension between the batter and the umpire increased.
Last year’s league average ERA was 4.06. In the previous season, 2021, the league average ERA of 4.44 went down by a small width. But that trend has continued into this year. At least this year, the issue of expanding the strike zone has subsided. After the opening, there was also a voice saying, “There is a feeling that the strike zone has returned to some extent before.” It is difficult to generalize 100% of the size of the strike zone this year based on the voices of several field officials. However, it seems that this year’s strike zone is not as wide as at the beginning of last season, when the KBO tried to adjust the strike zone.
Even so, the league ERA continues to drop this year. As of the 13th, the league average ERA is 3.89. It is down again from last year’s figure. At the current pace, the league average ERA could return to the 3-point range for the first time in 11 years since the 2012 season when the league average ERA was 3.82.
It is difficult to interpret it as the aftermath of the WBC (World Base Classic), an issue unique to this season. Many batters who kept the batting line of the national team, such as Na Seong-beom (KIA), Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), and Park Byeong-ho (KT), are not performing as expected due to injuries and sluggishness.
This year’s pitcher phenomenon seems to be because there is no team with absolute weakness in pitching power. Last year, there were 5 teams with a team ERA of 3 points (LG, KT, Kiwoom, SSG, NC), but this year, the number of teams with a team ERA of 3 points increased to 6 (SSG, NC, LG, Kiwoom, KIA, Doosan). Hanwha (4.02), 7th in average ERA, is also not bad enough to go back and forth between 3 and 4 points.
This year’s feature is that even teams that were slightly behind in the team ERA rankings at the beginning of the season seem to have the ability to recover in the mid- to long-term. For example, KT, which fell to the bottom of the team’s ERA (4.91) due to injuries to key pitchers such as So Joon So, Kwon Joo, and Min-soo Kim, is struggling, but it is expected to have the power to rebound to a certain level after the middle of the season. As much as this year, it is a trend that there will not be a team that drastically cuts the entire mound index in the league.
It is also a feature of this season that there is no team with fatal vacancies in the starting rotation. SSG, Hanwha, Doosan, NC, etc. sounded the alarm at the beginning of the season due to the absence of foreign pitcher injuries, but thanks to the solid performance of alternative starting resources, the starting team operation had no major gaps. These changes are showing up in mound indicators across the league. In addition, these teams are solving the foreign pitcher vacancy and rather turning on a signal of hope for the future in the selection fight.먹튀검증
Until last year, teams with strong pitching ability and teams with weak pitching ability were generally clearly distinguished. Also, teams with strong starters and teams with strong bullpens naturally diverged. However, this pattern has almost disappeared. For example, SSG last year had a difficult bullpen ERA of 4.68, ranking 6th in the division, but this year, its bullpen ERA was 2.20, ranking first. It is a season in which changes are taking place not only in the pitching of the entire league, but also in the composition.