LG Twins foreign-born hitter Austin Dean, who has been recognized as the team’s “belly button” since the beginning of the season, has continued his steady performance.
LG improved to 65-2 with a 3-1 home win over the Lotte Giants in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on April 24. Austin, who started at first base and batted fourth, went 1-for-2 with a run scored and two walks.
Most notably, with the score tied at 0-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Austin pulled a three-pitch fastball from LOTTE starter Charlie Barnes over the left field fence for a two-run double to bring home pinch-hitter Kim Hyun-soo. The count was 0-2, which was absolutely unfavorable for the batter, but Austin didn’t hesitate and swung for the fences. Two batters later, he came home on a single by Moon Sung-joo. In effect, Austin was responsible for the start and end of the big inning.
LG coach Yeom Kyung-yeop also mentioned Austin’s performance, saying, “In the offense, Austin and Moon Sung-joo were able to set the tone for the entire game by creating the winning runs in the first chance in the fourth inning.”
Austin, in particular, had a bit of a slow start in May and June, but picked up the pace again last month and is batting .400 with 24 doubles, four home runs and 11 RBIs in 60 at-bats in August. His nearly 2:1 walk (11) to strikeout (5) ratio over the same period is also noteworthy.
“I know what I’m capable of and I know what I can handle,” Austin said after the game about his recent performance, adding, “When I was in the U.S., I looked at my minor stats and I saw that I had some years where I played full-time and some years where I didn’t, and some years where I played a full season and some years where I didn’t, so I tried to learn from the bad years and build on it and get better.”
“First of all, I want to praise my interpreter,” Austin said with a smile, “I tried it for the first time at the beginning of the season, but this year I thought I would study the pitchers and try to react to them, so I asked my interpreter. I didn’t have a lot of data, so I asked him to write down the speed, location, and pitch type for each ball. Now that I have a lot of data over the course of the season, I’ve made a binder and I’m organizing it for every pitcher in every game, and I’m hoping that will help me a lot going into the game.” 스포츠토토
“As a player, I think analyzing your opponent is like your own homework. When I look at the data, it’s not an answer sheet, it’s just a reference book. So it’s not necessarily the right answer because it’s not necessarily going to produce results, but it’s going to help me in the at-bat because I’m going into the at-bat thinking about these things and I think it’s going to help me in the at-bat. I try to use it as much as I can to help my team and find ways to be more aggressive against them.”
With Austin’s performance, the team is looking beyond fall baseball. “I’ve played in the minor leagues a few times, and I’ve played in the major leagues once, but it wasn’t fun because there were no crowds during COVID-19,” he said. “Going to the postseason in Korea is going to be different than any of my postseason experiences so far, so I want to win every day.”
Regardless of the team’s performance, Austin is a shoo-in to win the Golden Glove for first base if he keeps up his current pace. LG hasn’t had a first baseman win the Golden Glove in nearly 30 years, since Seo Yong-bin in 1994.
When asked about the KBO’s Golden Glove by a reporter, Austin said, “First of all, it would be a nice award, and it would be nice to win it, but it’s not my goal to win it.” “We have a more ambitious goal, a dream, so we have to check that first. Winning a prize is something that comes later,” he said.