Maybe he had all the qualifications to hit the free agent (FA) jackpot. Before he became a free agent, he continued to perform well and dedicated his career to one team, Lotte. There was a premium. Jeon Jun-woo (37, Lotte)’s first free agency was hopeful.

But the market was cold. The free agency market leading up to the 2020 season is remembered as one of the coldest in free agency history, with most teams closing their wallets. The majority of A-level players, not S-level players, were hit hard by the cold snap. Players who entered the free agency market with high hopes were often frustrated by the lack of offers. Jeon Jun-woo was one of the unlucky ones.

He had better-than-league-average offensive production in 2018, 2019, and 2020. While he didn’t have a comparative advantage in defense, he was a solid offensive player. However, Lotte’s offer didn’t get much higher as they checked the market, and he ended up signing for a four-year total of 3.4 billion won, which would have been below his expectations. He had no choice.

Jun-woo Jeon is now being referred to as a “hype free agent. In 2020, he hit 26 home runs and 96 RBIs. In 2021, his power dropped 안전놀이터 off, but his on-base percentage remained above 30%. He even had a career-high in run production in 2021. Last year, he struggled, batting .304 in 120 games.

Heading into free agency, Jeon had a bit of a slump. He didn’t hit badly until April, but in May, he fell off a cliff. After batting .294 through April, he hit just .227 with one home run in 20 games in May. It was hard to smile when the team was doing well. However, his strikeout-to-walk ratio remained good, and he finally exploded again in June.

On the 17th and 18th, Jeon led the team’s offense against SSG at SSG Landers Field in Incheon with a combined six hits. On the 17th, he had four hits and two RBIs, although the team was unable to celebrate in a come-from-behind loss. On the 18th, he had two hits and one RBI, including a leadoff solo shot in the first inning. Thanks to Joon-woo’s early performance, Lotte was able to score a run in the seventh inning and win 7-2 to snap a four-game losing streak.

In the 18th inning, despite his low launch angle, Jeon hit a line drive over the left field fence. The ball was clocked at over 160 kilometers per hour. It was a home run that proved that Jeon’s power and skill are still alive and well. With Jun-woo Jeon batting second in the lineup, the Lotte batting order was able to run relatively smoothly. The all-important second spot in the batting order symbolizes the coaching staff’s recent assessment of Jun-woo’s hitting.

With the June schedule now over 60% complete, Jeon’s June batting average is among the best in the league. Among players with 50 or more plate appearances in June, he has the highest average (.407). He’s ahead of Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom, 0.404), Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha, 0.400), and Son Ah-seop (NC, 0.397) in the race for the June batting title.

It wasn’t just hits either. With three home runs and four doubles in the period, Jeon has an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of 1.120. This is the third highest in the league behind Lee Jung-hoo (1.226) and Choi Jung (SSG‧1.141).

Jun-woo is also on track to reach a career batting average of .300. After making his debut with Lotte in 2008, Jeon has played in 1534 first-team games with a batting average of 0.299 through 18 days. With a little more effort, the honor of becoming a “3-hit hitter” will come. Considering his struggles in his rookie season, this is definitely a mature bat in his 30s.

The focus is on secondary free agents. There are positive and negative evaluations. First of all, it’s not easy to make a big splash. There is a salary cap. There’s also the age factor. Jun-woo Jeon will be 38 next year. In addition, he doesn’t offer much in the way of defense. This year, he played 43 games as a designated hitter. He’s the No. 1 designated hitter on the team. Lotte could be looking at him.

However, his offense is consistent, so it might be possible to narrow it down to the best possible axis for a 38-year-old hitter. Despite Lee’s retirement, the current Lotte team is still a mix of young and veteran players. The younger players’ hitting is still jagged. They need to prove themselves more. In this situation, the value of Jeon Jun-woo, who has proven he can still hit triples, is not light. It will be interesting to see how Jun-woo performs when he becomes a free agent and what Lotte decides to do with him after the season.

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