Park Kun-woo (33, NC Dinos) will step on the stage of his second World Baseball Classic (WBC). But the situation then and now are different. If he joined as someone’s substitute in 2017, this time he proudly made his name in the final entry as an outfielder’Best 5′. 

Six years ago, Park’s name was not on the final WBC roster. However, when Choo Shin-soo (41, SSG Landers), who was a member of the Texas Rangers in the US Major League (MLB) at the time, returned the Taegeuk mark to the opposition of his team, Park Kun-woo was selected as a substitute. 스포츠토토

Park Kun-woo, who was a member of the Doosan Bears at the time, appeared in 132 games in 2016 and made a big success with a batting average of 0.335 and 20 homers OPS of 0.940. It was a good result to be selected for the national team, but the national team at the time had outstanding players such as 2016 batting king Choi Hyung-woo (Samsung, current KIA), Lee Yong-gyu (Hanwha, current Kiwoom), Son Ah-seop (Lotte, current NC), and Min Byung-hun (Doosan, retired). There were veteran outfielders. The place was too cramped for Park Geon-wu, who had just blossomed. 

However, six years later, Park Gun-woo proudly put his name on his first final entry and blew away the sadness at that time. Last year, Park Kun-woo appeared in 111 games and recorded a batting average of 0.336, 10 homers, 61 RBIs, and an OPS of 0.866, and had the best season since 2017 when he was riding two players. His batting average and on-base percentage rank third in the league, and when narrowed down to a domestic right-hander, he ranks first. His league performance is much better than six years ago. 

In addition, Park Kun-woo has grown much more than six years ago. After a career-high season with a batting average of 0.366 and 20 homers and an OPS of 1.006 in 2017, he has grown into an outfielder who dominates the league by steadily recording a batting average of .300 until 2022. In particular, after finishing the 2022 season, Park Gun-woo ranked second in his career batting average (0.327, 1st place was Lee Jung-hoo 0.349) and ranked among the best hitters in the KBO League. Considering that he was a small hitter with a 0.288 when he was selected in 2017, Park Kun-woo has made great progress in six years. 

Now Park Kun-woo is on the world stage as the best right-handed hitter in Korea. He has to compete with outstanding outfielders such as Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom), Kim Hyun-soo (LG), Na Seong-beom (KIA), and Park Hae-min (LG), but Park Kun-woo has the advantage of being the only right-handed outfielder in the national team. He has a clear advantage against left-handed pitchers, and last season, he recorded better performance against right-handed pitchers (0.335 batting average, 0.330 against left-handed hitters), so his utilization value is high.

In the meantime, Park Gun-woo has participated in three international competitions, including the WBC in 2017, but all of them have only played a backup role. But as he competed, his presence grew. Park Kun-woo, who received his first international selection opportunity in the 2019 Premier 12 Super Round game against Japan, played an active role with hits and walks on multiple bases. Attention is focusing on whether Park Kun-woo will be able to overcome the sadness in the last tournament and show his presence as the second-ranked batting average in this international tournament, which may be his last. 

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