Now that he’s been signed by the San Francisco Giants, South Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang knows that he’ll have to make a few changes if he wants to thrive in the majors. While baseball is baseball pretty much everywhere, the style of baseball in the Korea Baseball Organization is different than it is in Major League Baseball.
And the biggest change he’s making, according to the Yonhap News Agency? He’s no longer going to flip his bat after home runs.
The KBO is well-known for routine bat flips after home runs, but several of Hwang’s former teammates on the Lotte Giants have MLB experience, and they told him that bat flipping is “frowned upon.” (Reasonable people can debate that point.)
Okay, so that’s probably not the biggest change Hwang is making. He’s also tweaked his swing to better accommodate MLB pitching, which is different than what he’s seen in South Korea, and he’s been learning English for about a year. But with the KBO being so famous for its bat flips, cutting down on them is no small feat. If you do a search for Hwang on YouTube, you can find a large number of videos of him hitting home runs, accompanied by his well-practiced and awesome bat flips.
Not only is the home run call in that video awesome, but Hwang’s bat flip is top notch. He holds the bat out straight to his side and just stands there and watches the ball fly out of the park. And when it does, he lets the bat fly through the air like a majestic projectile.
Did you like that bat flip? How about 20 more.
This is a video compilation of Hwang’s first 20 homers from the 2015 season, and there are bat flips galore. The man knows what he’s doing, and what he’s doing is glorious.
Despite his amazing bat flips, Hwang told Yonhap that he didn’t flip his bat for a single one of his 27 homers in 2016, so he’s already had a lot of practice for the flipping-unfriendly confines of MLB.
It’s kind of heartbreaking that Hwang feels he has to change his (awesome) personal style to fit in, but it’s understandable. He’s coming from an entirely different league half a world away, and he’s competing with other MLB players for a spot on the Giants’ 25-man roster. He doesn’t want to antagonize anyone, and everyone knows how pitchers react when they feel like they’re being shown up.
But hopefully Hwang will be able to find moments that he can let his inner bat flipper out for the whole world to see. His first major league homer definitely deserves one.
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