It was the same 12 years ago. In 2011, Hanwha was at the bottom of the table and fighting to avoid the bottom at all costs. There was even talk of an early ‘breakaway merit’ program. The result was 59 wins, 72 losses, two draws and a win percentage of 0.450, beating Nexen, who had 51 wins, 80 losses, two draws and a win percentage of 0.389 in the eight-team system.
The leaderboard carries over to the following year’s rookie draft. In reverse order, we get the best picks. After finishing seventh in 2011 (tied for sixth with LG in winning percentage, but inferior in head-to-head), Hanwha exercised its right to the second pick in the first round of the 2013 Rookie Draft, which was held in August 2012. It was in the days of the now reinstated full draft, so technically it wasn’t the second overall pick.
Rookie team NC had two first-round picks before the first round pick, and then the draft went forward. Twelve years ago, Hanwha’s breakout strategy might have included getting the actual third overall pick, not the first, even if they finished last.
But now, a long time after the 2013 Rookie Draft, the outcomes of the 2011 picks for last-place Nexen and seventh-place Hanwha are starkly different.
Nexen selected Daejeon right-hander Cho Sang-woo with the first pick in the first round. Hanwha selected Jang Chung-go right-hander Cho Ji-hoon with the second pick of the first round. The two players are only one spot apart in the draft rankings, but their paths are completely different. While Cho Sang-woo became one of the league’s best hard-throwing closers, amassing 82 saves, Jo retired after just 23 appearances in the first team.
It’s a similar story this year. Hanwha declared before the season that they would not finish last. They aimed to finish at least second. After finishing in last place for the last three years in a row, they were confident that they had the top pick in the draft.
For the first half of the season, it looked like they were on track. They were eighth in the standings, just 2.5 games out of the fifth postseason spot. They had been on an upward curve since May and had won eight games in a row, a previously unthinkable feat. But in the second half, everything went back to the way it was. A shaky mound and defense caused the team’s performance to plummet.
Kiwoom, on the other hand, is not afraid of last place like he was 12 years ago with Nexen. Despite finishing last back then, the team has been a fall baseball regular for nearly a decade. From 2013 to 2022, they made the postseason every year except 2017. This year, they fell far short of their goal and quickly pivoted after losing key player Lee Jung-hoo to injury.
As of the last 24 days, they have 46 wins, 67 losses, and 3 draws. They are in last place, 3.5 games behind ninth-place Hanwha. With Hanwha fearing the bottom of the table and Kiwoom looking at Sili, the current standings could go all the way.
The following year, then, Kiwoom will be at the forefront of the 2025 rookie draft. It will be the first time in 12 years since the 2013 rookie draft that the team will hold the top pick. In the 2024 rookie draft, which will be held next month on the 14th, Kiwoom will have a whopping 14 picks, including six picks in the third round.먹튀검증
More high-potential high school players are heading to the professional ranks than ever before. It remains to be seen if the next decade for Kiwoom and Hanwha will be any different from the last.