Landers starter Kim Kwang-hyun wins top KBO pitching award

November 11, 2022

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (Yonhap) — After making a successful return from a two-year stint in the majors, SSG Landers starter Kim Kwang-hyun was named the winner of South Korea’s top professional pitching award on Friday.

Kim is the recipient of the 2022 Choi Dong-won Award after going 13-3 with a 2.13 ERA, the second lowest in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) this season. He also helped the Landers to the Korean Series title over the Kiwoom Heroes this month.

SSG Landers pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun celebrates his club’s 4-3 victory over the Kiwoom Heroes to clinch the Korean Series title in six games at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, 30 kilometers west of Seoul, on Nov. 8, 2022. (Yonhap)

The award was created in 2014 by the Choi Dong-won Memorial Foundation in honor of the late namesake pitcher, considered one of the best players in KBO’s 40-year history.

Kim spent most of the 2022 season, his first back in the KBO after two years with the St. Louis Cardinals, sporting a sub-2.00 ERA. But he allowed four earned runs in six innings in his final regular season start to finish with a 2.13 ERA.

Kiwoom Heroes starter An Woo-jin took the ERA title at 2.11 and also led the KBO with 224 strikeouts. But the foundation removed An from a list of candidates because of his bullying history, dating back to high school.

Kim earned six votes from nine members of the voting panel. He was nominated for the Choi Dong-won Award on four previous occasions and won it for the first time this year.

Kim is the first South Korean pitcher to win this honor in five years and also the first non-Doosan Bears pitcher to win it in five years.

“This is a bigger honor than anything else, because it’s named after a great pitcher who left such an important mark in Korean professional baseball,” Kim said. “I grew up admiring Choi Dong-won’s passion for the game and dedication to the craft.”

The award ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. next Thursday in the southeastern city of Busan, Choi’s hometown.

Candidates for the award had to meet the following criteria: at least 25 starts, 180 innings pitched, 12 wins, 150 strikeouts, 15 quality starts, a sub-3.00 ERA and 35 saves for relievers.