Byung Ho Park: Will he Succeed in MLB?

Written by Zachary D. Rymer at Bleacher Reports.com

Byung Ho Park was basically the Bryce Harper of the Korea Baseball Organization. In his last four seasons, in particular, many baseballs were obliterated by his bat.

But now with the Minnesota Twins, Park is already raising the question: Does he have the goods to translate his talent to Major League Baseball?

Nobody on the 0-8 Twins is having a fun time so far in 2016, but Park has arguably endured the worst of it. Through six games, he’s hit just .143 with a .536 OPS and one home run. Things are going so poorly for Minnesota’s $25 million man, in fact, that manager Paul Molitor even pinch hit for him on Monday.

“I’m sure it has happened when I was younger,” Park told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press through an interpreter, “but I couldn’t really say exactly when.”

There certainly wasn’t much need to pinch hit for Park when he was in Korea. The 29-year-old gradually morphed into an unstoppable slugger, peaking with two amazing seasons for the Nexen Heroes in 2014 and 2015. All told, he posted a 1.136 OPS and slugged 105 home runs.

According to legend and this video, one of those long balls traveled a mind-boggling 522 feet:

On paper, the main reason why Park is having such a difficult time tapping into the power in MLB is obvious: he’s striking out a lot. He’s whiffed in 12 of his first 24 plate appearances.

This isn’t too surprising. Park did have a strikeout habit in Korea, after all, whiffing 24.5 percent of the time. And since that was against inferior pitching, more strikeouts in MLB were likely inevitable.

A relevant case study would be Jung Ho Kang, Park’s countryman and a breakout star for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2015. He had a career 16.9 strikeout percentage in Korea, but came over here and posted a 21.2 percent K rate last season. Even for a talented all-around hitter like him, adjusting to MLB pitching was tough.

To his credit, Park knows what he needs to do to start making more contact.

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Koreans Are Thriving in the MLB

Written by Megan Kim at The Sports Quotient

Since the Los Angeles Dodgers brought pitcher Chan Ho Park into the MLB in 1994, Korean players have been trickling into the league as more and more teams look to Asia for prospects. Park had his ups and downs, and we’ve likewise seen Korean players both adapt seamlessly to MLB play and struggle to adjust.

It’s always a bit of a gamble, but the Minnesota Twins, in search of a DH, are negotiating with Korean first baseman and KBO League standout Byung Ho Park. The 29 year-old slugger boasts a career slash of .281/.387/.564 with 210 home runs, and the most impressive part is that he seems to be set on an upward trajectory.

In the past three seasons, he hasn’t had a batting average below .300, and last year set career highs in nearly every offensive category, including hits, home runs, batting average, and OPS. There is every reason to believe that his success should continue with the Twins.

If the negotiations pan out, Byung Ho Park will join three of his countrymen in theMLB. Let’s take a quick look at the others and where they stand for the 2016 season.

Shin-Soo Choo, OF

Choo is currently with the Texas Rangers, but originally signed with the Seattle Mariners in 2005. However, he never played a full season in the majors with them, spending most of his time with the organization’s Triple-A affiliate. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2006.

Choo established himself as a major-leaguer in Cleveland. During his seven years with the Indians, he put together strong numbers, ending with a respectable slash of .292/.383/.469.

Following the 2012 season, Choo was traded to Cincinnati. He picked up right where he left off, finishing 2013 with a .285/.423/.462 slash and showcasing both his power and speed to join the 20/20 club for the third time.

The Texas Rangers signed him to a seven year, $130 million dollar deal, and while 2014 proved a disappointing year for Choo, who was hampered by injury, he was back in fine form this past season.

As long as Choo remains consistent and continues to keep the pace he set in 2015, the Rangers will benefit from a solid right fielder/DH with a dependable bat.

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Get to Know the Twins’ Byung Ho Park

Written by Joe Messineo at No Coast Bias

The Minnesota Twins have just committed four years and $12 million to a baseball player who has never before played in Major League Baseball. But Byung Ho Park has played professionally for many years – it’s just that the 29-year-old first baseman has been plying his trade in the Korean leagues, far from the eyes of American baseball fans.

Four years and $12 million is a fair amount for a player who has never proven himself in the big leagues, and the $12.85 million that the Minnesota Twins bid for the right to negotiate with Park marks the second-highest sum ever paid for negotiating rights with an Asian player, behind only the $13 million that the Mariners once paid to negotiate with Ichiro Suzuki. So who is this guy who’s worth so much cash? Let’s get to know Byung Ho Park.

Everything You Need to Know About Byung Ho Park

Byung Ho Park has played for nine seasons in the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), though he’s only been a true everyday player since his age 25 season in 2012. He’s been an excellent player in that time, winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award twice. Park has hit for power well, especially later in his career: he’s hit more than 50 home runs in each of the past two seasons. He’s a career .281 hitter, but he’s been far better than that lately. Last season, he posted a .343/.436/.714 slash line, the best in his career.

Park is 29 years old, so he’s not going to get much better than he already is, but he should still have some solid years ahead of him.

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Twins Win Bidding for Byung-Ho Park, Creating Potential Logjam

Written by Joe Lucia at Bloguin

The winner in the bidding for the services for Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park is a bit of a shocker – the Minnesota Twins, who bid $12.85 million to earn the right to negotiate a contract with Park over the next 30 days.

The 29-year old Park hit a ridiculous .343/.436/.714 with 53 homers in 2015 for the KBO’s Nexen Heroes, but some context is required for those numbers in the ridiculously hitter-friendly league. Jung Ho Kang, Park’s former teammate with Nexen, hit .356/.459/.739 with 40 homers in 2014 before jumping to MLB and the Pirates. In his 2015 rookie year, Kang hit a still respectable .287/.355/.461 with 15 homers, but those numbers pale in comparison to his video game stats with the Heroes.

Park is a strange fit for Minnesota. Joe Mauer is entrenched at first base because of his contract (owed $69 million over the next three seasons), despite a poor .265/.338/.380 season in 2015. Rookie Miguel Sano was the Twins’ primary DH in 2015, mashing his way to a .269/.385/.530 line with 18 homers in just 80 games. The signing of Park infers that one of these two players will have to play a different position, and that likely falls to Sano, who came up through the minors as a third baseman but has been linked to an outfield move in recent weeks and months.

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