The SSG Landers did not return to Incheon, ending their 2023 KBO schedule at Changwon NC Park.
SSG lost 6-7 in Game 3 of the semifinals against the NC Dinos at Changwon NC Park on May 25.
After finishing the regular season in third place, SSG was swept in three consecutive games by NC, who came through the wild-card round, and exited the fall stage.
Their dreams of winning the Korean Series for the second year in a row were dashed.
Last year, SSG became the first team in the KBO League to win the wire-to-wire title, never losing first place from the start of the regular season to the end. They also defeated the Kiwoom Heroes in the Korean Series to win the overall title.
The year started off well.
SSG finished the first half, which ended on July 13, in second place (46 wins, 32 losses, and one tie). They were 2.5 games behind the first-place LG Twins (49 wins, 30 losses, and 2 ties).
This was despite the fact that foreign pitcher Eni Romero was released without pitching a single game and ace Kirk McCarty was out for nearly a month.
SSG was still in contention for the title through July 31, trailing leader LG by 2.5 games.
However, a five-game losing streak in August saw them slip out of contention, and a poor September saw them go 6-15-2 with two ties, putting them in danger of missing the postseason. On September 22, they dropped to sixth place.
SSG went 10-2 in October, knocking off NC (4th) and Doosan Bears (5th) to punch their ticket to the Semi-Po.
SSG’s regular season record was 76 wins, 65 losses, and three ties (winning percentage 0.539).
SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung said, “We went straight to the Semi-Pyeongpo with a good mood, focus, and a unified will to win at the end of the regular season.” “We will prepare well to show that in the Semi-Pyeongpo,” he added.
He also believes in the “Autumn DNA,” which was highlighted by the former SK Wyverns’ dynasty from 2007-2012, when they reached the Korean Series for six consecutive seasons and won three titles, and also won the title in 2018 and 2022.
However, SSG in 2023 was weaker in the fall stage.
SSG is a ‘Win Now’ team.
Prior to the start of the 2023 season, the average annual salary of the top 28 players, excluding foreign players and rookies, announced by the KBO (KRW 170,559 million), and the average annual salary of the top 28 players on the regular season roster (KRW 3957 million) were all SSG.
In addition to the 1982-born duo Choo Shin-soo and Kim Kang-min, who are in the midst of a downward spiral, other players in their mid-to-late 30s, including Choi Jeong, Kim Kwang-hyun, Noh Kyung-eun, and Ko Hyo-joon, played as first-team starters.
Both the club and head coach Kim Won-hyung had hoped for a “natural generation change,” but no juniors emerged beyond the “big brothers.
Of the nine players in SSG’s starting lineup for Game 3 of the Semi-Po, only one was in his 20s, shortstop Park Sung-han.
High school rookie pitchers Song Young-jin and Lee Ro-roon were listed on the Semi-Po roster, but the team was unable to use them in the game.
Moreover, it was revealed that individual and collective “physical punishment” took place in the Futures (second team) squad, exposing problems in the development system.
SSG, which has the KBO’s top two hitters in Kim Kwang-hyun and Choi Jeong-jeong, has no choice but to pursue ‘winnow’ for the time being.
They have the power to challenge for another championship if they recruit foreign players well.
However, the team also realized that if Han Yoo-seom (.273 batting average, 7 home runs, 55 RBIs), Moon Seung-won (5-8, 1 save, 9 holds, 5.23 ERA), and Park Jong-hoon (2-6, 6.19 ERA), who signed multi-year contracts before becoming free agents, continue to struggle like they did this year, they will be pushed out of the race.
SSG begins planning for the 2024 season in deep thought.
SSG manager Kim Won-hyung said in a press conference after the Semi-Po elimination, “We should have won today, but we didn’t make the right pitching changes or substitutions. I take full responsibility,” he said.
“Our strength is definitely lacking right now,” he said, adding, “This is the first time I’ve tasted bitterness in the postseason as a manager, and I’ll do my best to prepare for next year’s season from November so that we can shake off the disappointment and come back in good shape.”
Finally, Kim thanked the fans for their support and the players for their hard work over the past year. 토토사이트