If you know anything about Korean infielder Jae-gyun Hwang, it’s that the man can flip a damn bat. I mean, just look at that beaut.
So it stands to reason that part of the excitement surrounding the news that the 29-year-old was leaving the Lotte Giants of the KBO for MLB’s San Francisco Giants was that he’d be bringing his bravado with him. Not so much.
Hwang told reporters at Incheon International Airport earlier today that he’d already worked on modifying his swing to better match major league pitching and an American style of play. In a deeply embarrassing comment on our country’s values, that includes nixing the bat flip on the advice of his Lotte teammates who had MLB experience.
Most of the videos of Hwang’s virtuosic bat flips are from his breakout 2015 season, and he claims to have already quit flipping in 2016 saying, “I didn’t flip the bat once last year after those 27 home runs.”
The altered approach doesn’t seem to have impacted his production. Even pulling from the offensively-skewed KBO, his .335/.394/.570 line he put up last year, along with a career-high 27 home runs and 25 stolen bases—all with half the strikeouts of the previous season—should be a welcome addition to the Giants’ lineup. Right now, he’s got a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training. If he makes the 25-man roster, he’ll be owed $1.5 million with incentives for certain numbers of games played. But without his signature bat flip, who cares?