Coaches build their rosters before the season and envision how they want to play, but once the season gets underway, things don’t always go according to plan. Injuries and other variables come into play, and starters and backups deviate from the expected scenario.
The position that has changed the most from LG’s pre-season plan is second base. Seo Gun-chang, a free agent third baseman who Yoon Kyung-yeop picked to be the starting second baseman, didn’t get the chance, and Shin Min-jae, who started the season as a pinch-hitting specialist, took over.
Shin Min-jae started at second base twice last weekend against Kiwoom on Dec. 12-13. With Moon Sung-ju sidelined with a nagging back injury, he played as a table-setter in the bottom of the batting order.
Against Kiwoom on the 12th, he hit a long ball over the height of the outfielder fielding in front of him for his first three hits in his debut.
Recorded his second three-hit game of the season with a single in the first inning, an RBI single in the second inning, and an RBI double in the third inning against Kiwoom. He went 3-for-6 with two doubles, two RBIs and two runs scored, contributing to the LG bats’ 17-run explosion.
“Shin Min-jae continues to improve with each game,” said coach Yeom Kyung-yup ahead of the match on the 13th, “and her defense has also improved. I’ve been working hard on defense with coach Kim Il-kyung. I still need to work on my basics, but I’m looking forward to next year more than this year. She will continue to grow into a player who can get better and better.”
Shin Min-jae had more chances in the second half of the tournament. In the ninth inning of the 12th game, he made a bent-leg sliding backhand catch of Yong-gyu Lee’s hard-hit line drive to second base and quickly threw to first for the out.
메이저놀이터 On the 13th, she made another spectacular play. In the 6th inning, he followed Kim Hye-sung’s hit with a bent-leg slide, made a backhand catch, and used the momentum of his slide to get up and jump to throw her out at first base.
Oh’s signature play, a bent-leg slide followed by a backhand catch, was smoothly executed as if copied by Shin Min-jae.
After playing just one at-bat in April, Shin Min-jae is now the starting second baseman for the team looking to win the Korean Series. Seo Gun-chang was sent down to the second team in mid-May due to his offensive struggles, and Kim Min-sung, who played primarily at second base, suffered a hamstring injury late in the first half, so Shin seized the opportunity to play second base.
Shin Min-jae went 1-for-18 with a home run, seven doubles and six RBIs from the start of the season through April, then went 9-for-24 (.395 batting average) with four doubles and six RBIs in 19 games in May.
In June, he went 14-for-51 (.275 batting average) with seven doubles and nine runs scored in 22 games. In July, 16-for-43 (.372 batting average) with six doubles and five runs scored in 14 games. In August, he’s 9-for-28 (.321 batting average) with three doubles and four runs scored in nine games. The numbers alone show how quickly Shin’s position has changed.
Shin joined Doosan as a developmental player in 2015 and made his first-team debut in 2019 with the LG, where he totaled 30 hits and 22 stolen bases in four seasons until last year. In 82 games this season, he is batting 3-for-49 (147 at-bats) with 27 doubles and 30 runs scored. He leads Doosan’s Jung Soo-bin (26) and Kiwoom’s Kim Hye-sung (22) in stolen bases.
Coach Yoon Kyung-yup praised Shin Min-jae, saying, “I don’t have to worry about second base for the next five to six years.” “My dream is to make Shin Min-jae a Golden Glove,” Yoon replied, “but if he’s the stolen base king and hits a triple, he’ll get a Golden Glove.