2nd-generation hitting machine wins 1st KBO batting title, 37 yrs after father

The apple didn't fall far from the tree, as the second-generation hitting machine Lee Jung-hoo captured his first career South Korean baseball batting title, nearly 40 years after his father did the same.

Lee led all Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) players with a career-high .360 batting average this year, beating Jeon Jun-woo of the Lotte Giants by .012 points. The Kiwoom Heroes' outfielder went 3-for-5 with a home run in his team's 6-1 victory over the Kia Tigers on Saturday.

Lee's legendary father, Lee Jong-beom, hit .393 to top the batting race in 1994. It remains the second-highest batting average for a season, behind only the .412 mark by Baek In-cheon in the inaugural season in 1982. The Lees are the first father-son duo to win batting titles in KBO history.

The junior Lee seemed preordained for success from the start of his pro career, given his preternatural ability to put his bat on the ball and blood line. Lee won the Rookie of the Year award in 2017 after batting .324, and that is his worst single-season mark so far. He's a lifetime .341 hitter.

Jeon fell short of his first career batting title but led the league with 192 hits and 46 doubles at age 35.

In other major hitting categories, Choi Jeong of the SSG Landers led the way with 35 home runs for his third career home run title. Choi also became the second player in KBO history to reach the 400-homer plateau earlier this month.

Yang Eui-ji of the NC Dinos was tops with 111 RBIs. The runner-up in the MVP voting in each of the past two years, Yang also led the KBO with a .581 slugging percentage and a .995 on-base plus slugging percentage.

LG Twins' leadoff hitter Hong Chang-ki established himself as the premier on-base man. He finished first with 109 walks and a .456 on-base percentage.

Former major league All-Star Choo Shin-soo had been considered a favorite to lead the KBO in those categories after signing with the Landers in February for his first South Korean season. He ranked among the leaders with 103 walks and .409 on-base percentage.

More impressively, Choo smacked 21 home runs and stole 25 bases to become the oldest member of the 20-20 club at age 39.

On the pitching side, Ariel Miranda of the Doosan Bears fell one category shy of a Triple Crown. He led the league with a 2.33 ERA and 225 strikeouts, an all-time single-season record by two.

But the Cuban left-hander finished with 14 wins to tie for fourth. Eric Jokisch of the Heroes and David Buchanan of the Samsung Lions each had 16 wins to lead the KBO.

Ex-major league closer Oh Seung-hwan recorded 44 saves for the Lions to lead the KBO for the sixth time. The 39-year-old is the oldest to pick up 40 or more saves in a season by nearly eight years.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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