Doosan coach Lee Seung-yup is also in the picture. But only one will laugh and one will cry.

The culmination of the KBO League’s awards season, the Golden Glove Awards, will be held on the 11th. There are many interests, but the rarity of the “golden glove rich” stands out because there is room for a mix. The main characters are Yang Ji (36, Doosan Bears) and Choi Jung (36, SSG Landers).

Yang and Choi have won eight Golden Gloves. That’s the most of any active player. Yang won from 2014-2016 and 2018-2022. He won it as a designated hitter in 2021 and as a catcher the other seven times. Choi won the award from 2011 to 2013, 2016 to 2017, 2019, and 2021 to 2022, all as a third baseman.

The two are on pace to at least match, and possibly surpass, Doosan’s Lee Seung-yeop’s all-time record of 10 awards. One proof of this is the fact that they rank first and third in terms of total free agent contracts. Yang is at 27.7 billion won and Choi is at 19.2 billion won.

Yang is only in the first season of his 4+2 year, 15.2 billion won free agent contract with Doosan. Choi’s six-year, $10.6 billion free agent contract ends next year. However, there is still a good chance that he will get a multi-year contract after that. As long as he avoids a sharp decline in performance, he has the potential to topple Lee Seung-yup’s reign.

However, this year’s Golden Glove weather forecasts for the two are mixed. Yang actually won the award for the sixth consecutive year and booked his ninth career Golden Glove. In 129 games this season, Yang hit .305 with 134 hits in 439 at-bats, 17 home runs, 68 RBI, 56 runs scored, eight doubles, and an OPS of .870. He showed off his “over-the-wall” hitting class.

He also proved to be a complete catcher, winning the Inaugural Catcher’s Defense Award. His 5.79 WAR ranks seventh in the league and first among catchers, per Baseball-Reference. It’s possible he’ll get a near-unanimous vote. If he wins a Gold Glove this year, he can challenge for the coveted tie for first place on the all-time list next year.

Choi, however, has a different situation. His numbers this season weren’t overwhelming, but they weren’t bad either. In 128 games, he hit .471 with 140 doubles, 29 home runs, 87 RBI, 94 runs scored, seven stolen bases, and a .936 OPS. After a poor start to the season, he had a huge late-season surge. Ranked eighth in the league with a 5.63 WAR, per StatSaber.

But at third base is Noh Si-hwan (23, Hanwha Eagles), who swept the year-end awards this year. In 131 games this season, Noh batted .298 with 153 hits in 514 at-bats, 31 home runs, 101 RBI, 85 runs scored, two doubles, and a .929 OPS. If it weren’t for Eric Pedroia (30, Chicago White Sox), Noh would have won the season MVP award.

To top it all off, Noh is the home run leader and RBI leader. The jury is still out, but it seems likely that Noh will win his first Golden Glove this year. At the very least, he’ll be in good-natured competition for the best third baseman in the league this year. A ninth or 10th career Golden Glove would be even more meaningful.


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