SUWON, South Korea, They have yet to hit a home run through five games in the ongoing South Korean baseball postseason, but the trio of Son Ah-seop, Park Min-woo and Park Kun-woo atop the NC Dinos lineup has still been quite deadly.
They've been spraying singles and doubles all over the field, helping the Dinos win their first five postseason games this month. Opposing pitchers have been suffering deaths by a thousand cuts against the three.
The latest display of their hitting prowess came Monday night, when the Dinos defeated the KT Wiz 9-5 to open their best-of-five second round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason.
Son paced the offense with three hits and two runs scored from the leadoff spot. Park Min-woo added two hits and scored twice from the No. 2 spot. Park Kun-woo had one hit but drove in two.
For the postseason, Son is batting .391 (9-for-23) with five runs scored. Park Min-woo has a .389 average (7-for-18) and has crossed the plate five times.
Park Kun-woo is batting .400 (8-for-20) for the postseason, and has scored six times and knocked in five runs.
Son Ah-seop of the NC Dinos hits a single against the KT Wiz during Game 1 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 30, 2023.
They have picked up where they left off in the regular season. Son won the batting title with a .339 average. Park Kun-woo ranked seventh at .319, and Park Min-woo was right behind him in eighth at .316.
Among active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, Park Kun-woo has the second-highest career batting average at .326. Son is No. 3 in that category at .322, and Park Min-woo is fourth at .320.
Any way you cut it, these guys can hit.
Park Min-woo of the NC Dinos celebrates after hitting a double against the KT Wiz during Game 1 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 30, 2023.
With this trio starting the offense, the Dinos have scored in the first inning in each of the past three games.
After Monday's game, Son touched upon having lineup protection with the two Parks -- unrelated -- hitting behind him.
Lineup protection is the notion that a batter can benefit from having a great hitter right behind him in the lineup. The logic goes that pitchers will likely throw strikes against the first batter -- thus giving him pitches to hit -- because they want to avoid walking him and putting a runner on in front of the great hitter coming up.
In recent years, analysts of advanced statistics, collectively called sabermetricians, have claimed that lineup protection is merely a myth and doesn't produce positive results.
Park Kun-woo of the NC Dinos hits an RBI double against the KT Wiz during Game 1 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 30, 2023.
But if a player on the field says he is enjoying protection, then who are we to argue?
"With two great hitters behind me, pitchers will have to throw strikes against me, and they tend to make a lot of mistakes," Son said. "I think that's a positive aspect of having those two guys coming up after me."
Son said there is also a psychological benefit to this setup.
"I know I don't have to try to do too much at the plate," Son said. "I can relax more at the plate, knowing that I have those two guys behind me that we can all trust."
Source: Yonhap News Agency