OWL Magazine Korea

“The ‘Yong-Gyu Play’ by Lee Yong-Kyu”

Lee Yong-Kyu is a player currently playing as an outfielder for the Kiwoom Heroes in the 2024 season. Born in 1985, he is considered a veteran at 38 years old in 2024, yet he continues to perform actively as a player.

Lee Yong-Kyu, nicknamed for his “Yong-Gyu Play,” is known for his excellent eye and contact abilities at the plate. Thanks to this, he has contributed significantly as the leadoff hitter primarily responsible for getting on base.

“Lee Yong-Kyu’s Yong-Gyu Play”

The term “Yong-Gyu Play” refers to Lee Yong-Kyu’s strategy of extending the opposing pitcher’s pitch count. It involves consistently fouling off pitches after two strikes to increase the opposing pitcher’s pitch count.

Lee Yong-Kyu is particularly known for his keen eye at the plate. Leveraging this, he aims to make hits when he receives favorable pitches to swing at. However, when faced with unfavorable pitches, he intentionally fouls them off to extend the opponent’s pitch count, showcasing tactical maneuvering.

“Lee Yong-Kyu forces the opponent to throw 20 pitches in one plate appearance”

The most pitches forced in one plate appearance against an opponent pitcher amounted to 20 pitches. This record was set on August 29, 2010, in a game between Kia and Nexen. In the bottom of the 8th inning, Lee Yong-Kyu, then with Kia, forced Park Joon-Kyu to throw 20 pitches.

After forcing 20 pitches, he eventually retired on the 20th pitch with a flyout. Park Joon-Kyu, who managed to retire Lee Yong-Kyu after throwing too many pitches, had no choice but to leave the mound immediately after facing him.

At the time, this record surpassed the previous record, as it exceeded 17 pitches thrown in one plate appearance, which occurred on September 28, 2008, when pitcher Jang Won-Sam threw 17 pitches against batter Jang Won-Seok in a Doosan vs. Nexen game.

“Even if the batter is out after forcing the opponent to throw over 10 pitches in one plate appearance, it is considered beneficial”

It is said that even if the batter is eventually out after forcing the opponent to throw over 10 pitches in one plate appearance, it is considered beneficial. Lee Yong-Kyu often showcases scenes where he forces the opposing pitcher to throw many pitches, leveraging his excellent eye and contact abilities. Therefore, even if Lee Yong-Kyu fails to get a hit, he can still significantly trouble the opposing pitcher by extending the pitch count.

“The ‘Yong-Gyu Play’ in Major League Baseball”

While occurrences of the Yong-Gyu Play are not common in Major League Baseball, a similar scene did happen. On May 19, 2004, batter Alex Cora forced pitcher Matt Clement to throw 18 pitches. The 18th pitch ended up being a home run, leaving it as a memorable moment.

At the time, this record was the second-highest pitch count in one plate appearance since 1998 in Major League Baseball, following the 20-pitch battle between pitcher Ricky Gutierrez and pitcher Bartolo Colon.

“April 22, 2018: 21 pitches in one plate appearance”

Similar events have occurred since then. On April 22, 2018, Brandon Belt of the San Francisco Giants forced pitcher Jaime Barria of the LA Angels to throw 21 pitches starting from the 1st inning.

Ultimately, he was out on the 21st pitch with a flyout to right field, setting a record for the highest pitch count against one batter since Major League Baseball started counting pitches in 1998.