Noh Si-hwan (23-Hanwha Eagles)먹튀검증 has been fulfilling his long ball potential this season, finally reaching the 30-homer plateau. It’s a rare feat for someone his age.
Noh went 2-for-4 with two doubles (one home run), two RBIs, and one run scored while batting third in the team’s 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League game against the LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Sunday.
In his first at-bat in the top of the first inning, Noh set the tone with a big double off LG starter Kim Yun-sik that landed in the left-center field warning track. In the top of the third inning, Noh was retired on a grounder to the third baseman after a six-pitch at-bat, but his best at-bat came in his third at-bat.
In the top of the sixth inning, with his team leading 1-0, Noh faced right-hander Yoo Young-chan with the bases loaded after a leadoff single by Lee Jin-young. After seeing a slider in the first pitch, Noh lined a two-pitch fastball over the left-center field fence for a 120-meter home run. It was the moment he completed a home run against his former club.
Hanwha’s Noh Si-hwan hits his 30th home run of the season in the top of the sixth inning against LG in Jamsil on Feb. 2. /Photo: Hanwha Eagles
It was Noh’s 30th home run of the season. He became the first player in the KBO to reach the 30-homer plateau this year, surpassing his career-high of 18 in his professional debut in 2019, and then followed that up with his first 20 and 30 home runs in 2021.
Having been recognized as a big-league talent since his days at Gyeongnam High School, Noh began to emerge as a mainstay in his second year as a professional, hitting 12 home runs in 2020, but his power took a dip last year, as he hit just six home runs in 115 games.
This year, he has reactivated his home run arsenal. After hitting just two home runs in April, Noh really hit his stride in May with seven home runs. He took the lead on May 12 with his eighth home run of the season, and then hit six more in June and July to reach the 20-homer plateau.
Of course, it wasn’t without its ups and downs. At one point in June, he went hitless for eight games and 43 at-bats in a row, but at the time, he said, “I didn’t change my batting form. I tried to stick to what I could do,” and in July, he won his first monthly MVP award with an OPS of 1.072. He also hit 30 home runs, signaling the emergence of a “rising star.
Roh Si-hwan (center). /Photo=Hanwha Eagles
The young right-hander’s 30-homer milestone is also good news for the KBO. Noh, who turns 23 in December, is the first player to hit 30 home runs in a season under the age of 23 since Kim Tae-gyun (Hanwha, 31) in 2003. He is the 15th player in franchise history to do so, and the first since Lee Sung-yeol (34 homers) and Gerard Hoying (30 homers) in 2018 and Choi Jin-hyun (32 homers) in 2010 for a Korean right-hander.
The so-called “Beijing Kids” (the generation that took up baseball after being inspired by the 2008 Beijing Olympics gold medal), who are around the same age as Noh, have produced some big-hitting talent. They include Kang Baek-ho (24-KT Wiz), who hit 29 home runs at the age of 19, Han Dong-hee (24-Lotte Giants), who was a year ahead of him at Gyeongnam High School, and “Jamsil Big Boy” Lee Jae-won (24-LG Twins). However, Noh surpassed them to become the first player to hit 30 home runs.
Noh Si-hwan. /Photo=Hanwha Eagles
Noh Si-hwan. /Photo=Hanwha Eagles