Without him, the Lotte Giants’ infield could have fallen apart in 2023. Lotte infielder Park Seung-wook, 32, was rewarded for his time with his first billion-dollar salary. In just two years, the former free agent has gone from career crisis to billionaire.

In 123 games last year, Park batted .290 (83-for-290) with 30 RBIs, 15 doubles, and a .733 OPS. Those were the numbers of a backup, not a starter. However, he also played the role of a fixer-upper by going 3-for-4 with RBIs. Last year, Seung-Wook Park was reliable, and his presence was felt when the team needed him.

This was especially true on defense. Park played 77 games (44 starts) at second base last year, 447⅓ innings, 39 games (22 starts) at third base, 190⅔ innings, 22 games (15 starts) at shortstop, 134 innings, and two games at first base. He was an all-around backup who was called upon when the starters in the infield were tired, underperforming, or injured, and he ended the season with a chance at a semi-regular role.

Park’s contributions are evidenced by his Wins Above Replacement (WAR). His 1.62 WAR ranked fifth on the team according to Sports2eye. In front of him, Jeon Jun-woo (4.52), 바카라사이트 Ahn Chi-hong (3.04), Yoo Kang-nam (2.21), and Noh Jin-hyuk (2.14) are all high-paid free agents, but Park’s salary last year was 70 million won. Park has become the silent pillar of Lotte’s infield, performing at nearly 200% of his salary.

His dedication and performance were rewarded with a raise.

Park signed a 2024 contract worth 135 million won, a 92.9 percent increase from last year. Park, who was drafted by SK in the third round of the 2012 rookie draft, will receive his first billion-dollar contract in his 13th year as a professional.

It’s a big deal considering his status just two years ago. After joining SK, he was traded to KT in 2019 and was released in September 2021 in the middle of the regular season. It was at this point in his career that Lotte reached out to him. It wasn’t an unconditional signing. He had to go through a test. He was tested in the training league, a league for rookies and inexperienced players in their early 20s. For Park, a 10-year player at the time, it could have been a blow to his ego, but he had to play, so he didn’t have time to look around. In the end, Park passed the test and was able to continue his career with Lotte. He started the 2022 season with Lotte, earning a salary of 30 million won, the lowest salary in the league.

But over the past two years, Park has redefined his value. His position has changed and he is now an indispensable part of the Lotte infield. His performance and dedication have been recognized by the club, and he’s now earned the title of billionaire.

For Park, the 2024 season will be another challenge and a new opportunity.

Ahn Chi-hong, the starting second baseman, left after signing a 4+2 year, 7.2 billion won free agent contract with Hanwha. The second base spot became vacant. Park Seung-wook has a chance to make the jump to the starting lineup. Of course, competition and challenges are inevitable. He’ll have to compete with Go Seung-min, who hasn’t been able to settle into a position, as well as Oh Sun-jin and Choi Hang, who joined the team in the second round of the draft, and Kim Min-sung, who was signed as a free agent just before the start of camp.

Even if he doesn’t win the battle for second base, it’s unlikely that Park’s playing time will decrease dramatically. He has shown enough competitiveness at second base, as well as third base and shortstop. Han Dong-hee, who would be the starting third baseman, is likely to join the Korean Armed Forces in June, and the health of Noh Jin-hyuk at shortstop is uncertain. It’s important to have a quality backup, and Park Seung-wook could be that player.

Reflecting on last year, Park said, “It was a very satisfying year for me personally. 안전놀이터 I became more confident and organized in my baseball. I gained a lot of confidence,” he said, adding, “Every player aims to star. If I get the chance, I want to be greedy, and since my baseball has been established, I think I can do well without missing the opportunity,” he said. Park Seung-wook’s new baseball life has begun in earnest. His dedication and performance have been fully rewarded. He’s not satisfied with last year, but he’s aiming higher and hoping to make the leap to the main team.

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