If you are out of the scoring zone, just think of the KKK” Ace beyond Choi Dong-won, the mindset was different

Kiwoom Heroes Ace Ahn Woo-jin (24) was able to set the record for the most strikeouts in a season by a domestic pitcher because he had a different mindset from others.

An Woo-jin recorded 3 innings, 2 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts and no runs in the 2023 KBO league demonstration game against KT Wiz held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 14th. After he went down, Kiwoom conceded a lot and lost 1-11.

It was pitching like regular season. The highest speed of the fastball was 157 km per hour, and the average was 153 km. The pitching wasn’t good. Of the 59 total pitches (32 fastballs, 17 sliders, 8 curveballs, and 2 changeups), 26 were balls.

After the mound, Ahn Woo-jin said, 스포츠토토“Since it was my first mound (exhibition game), I tried to test all pitches. I couldn’t throw a lot of changeups, but I managed to strike out one. It didn’t work. The fastball didn’t go up in the direction I wanted as much as last year, so I’m trying to play after making it before the season.”

However, whenever a runner went out, he struck out and overcame the crisis. His typical example was 1st and 3rd bases without a hit in the 2nd inning. Ahn Woo-jin struck out Oh Yoon-seok with a curve and Son Min-seok with a changeup, respectively, striking out on a swing and making two outcounts in an instant. Cho Yong-ho’s last ball was caught by shortstop Russell with a diving catch. It was scoreless.

When asked if the two strikeouts in a row were intentional, Ahn Woo-jin said, “I always think of striking out three if I am a no-out in scoring position. I have to think that I will strike out two if I have one out and one strike out if I have two outs. The ball comes out and the batting comes out. In-play batted balls such as ground balls and floating balls have many variables, so the biggest thought is to strike out,” he showed a unique mindset.

Last year, Ahn Woo-jin won his first Golden Glove as a pitcher in his career, recording 15 wins and 8 losses in 30 games, an earned run average of 2.11, and 224 strikeouts in 196 innings. His performance in the league average ERA, first place in strikeouts, and second place in wins was also impressive, but it was remarkable that he broke the record for the most strikeouts in a single season by a domestic pitcher by one car, surpassing the late Choi Dong-won. The record for the most strikeouts in a single season in the KBO League set by Ariel Miranda (former Doosan) is one short.

Ahn Woo-jin is the most likely candidate to exceed this record this season as well. The biggest reason is that he is a starting pitcher who consistently throws 155 km per hour, which is not easily seen in the major leagues, but his approach to dealing with batters is different from other pitchers. He has the mindset that he just needs to win someday, even when dealing with Sang-cheol Moon (KT) and Han Yu-seom (SSG), who have good records against him.

Ahn Woo-jin said, “I think it is always important to have an advantage in the ball count rather than being conscious of strikeouts. If the ball count is advantageous, a lot of strikeouts come out.” It’s not big. I can hit it well 5 times out of 10, but I might get an out count someday. When I get a hit, I think, ‘I’ll have to change my repertoire next time’. So when I meet players who hit my ball well, I get scared. It’s more fun than it sounds,” he said with a broad smile.

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