SSG Landers’ Choi Jeong (36) became the first and youngest right fielder in KBO history to reach 450 career home runs.
Choi batted leadoff in the bottom of the fourth inning of a 1-1 tie against the NC Dinos in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on Sept. 9 and hit a giant 135-meter solo shot over the left-center wall (Season 21). It was his 450th career home run.
She didn’t miss a beat. With a favorable 2B-1S count against NC starter Choi Sung-young, Choi turned to a four-pitch, 124-kilometer-per-hour changeup that was sitting high. As the ball left his hand and sailed toward the top of the strike zone instead of the bottom, where catcher Ahn Jung-yeol had called for it, Choi kept his head down, as if he had just sensed a home run.
The game ended 2-1 in favor of SSG, 메이저놀이터 and Choi’s single was recorded as the game-winning hit. Choi, who was replaced by Park Sung-ho at shortstop in the top of the seventh inning, finished the day with three hits, one home run, one RBI and one run scored.
Choi became just the second player in KBO history to reach the 450-homer plateau. Only Lee Seung-yeop (467) and Choi have hit more than 450 home runs in the 42-year history of the league. Choi reached the milestone in 2124 games, behind Lee (May 21, 2017 against the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles – 1906 games), but well ahead of Lee at 36 years, 5 months, and 12 days old (40 years, 9 months, and 3 days).
Choi continues to write the KBO’s home run history. This year, he hit two home runs against the Incheon Samsung Lions on June 1, extending his record of double-digit home runs in consecutive seasons set last year to 18. On June 27 against the Daegu Samsungs, he hit 20 home runs for the eighth consecutive season, tying him with Lee Seung-yeop (1997-2012, 2004-2011) for second place on the all-time list. He is also one step closer to Park Byung-ho’s (KT Wiz) record of nine consecutive 20-homer seasons (2012-2022, 2016-2017, overseas) set during his time with the Nexen-Keum Heroes.
As he continues to showcase his power every season, expectations are growing for him to become the KBO’s all-time home run leader. At the pace he’s been hitting this season, he’s on pace to add about 10 more, so he’ll have to aim for the 2024 season, but with his ability to drive in runs, there’s a lot of interest in whether or not he’ll surpass Lee Seung-yeop this season.