He’s been getting more and more starts and has moved up in the batting order from 9th to 2nd. LG Twins’ Shin Min-jae is expanding his range.
Shin Min-jae has been a “game changer” for manager Yoon Kyung-yeop this season. His role is to get on base in key situations, steal bases, and score game-winning runs.
He is a utility player who can play both infield and outfield, but more often than not, he’s stolen bases with the glove on. The batting opportunities never came.
For the first 16 games of the season, he didn’t bat, only pinch-hitting and playing center field. On April 28 against the KIA, he pinch-hit and got his first hit in the bottom of the 10th inning of extra innings.
He gradually made his way to the plate after that and got a hit. He finished with five hits and one RBI in nine at-bats as a substitute. On May 9 against the Kiwoom Heroes, he recorded an infield hit in the final inning.
On May 21 against the Jamsil Hanwha Eagles, he made his first start at second base. Since then, he has made occasional starts at second base in place of Kim Min-sung. He gradually got more and more playing time. He started a total of 10 games against the Hanwha Eagles in Daejeon on the 10th, but only as a 9th outfielder. He had a good batting average of 3-for-41 (14 hits in 41 at-bats).
Then, on Nov. 11 against the Hanwha, 메이저놀이터 he batted second for the first time this season. The team rested Moon Sung-joo, who usually batted second, and put Shin Min-jae, who has a good batting average, at second.
In the top of the first inning, Shin had a chance. A hard hit ball quickly traveled to the third baseman, and Noh Si-hwan was unable to catch the ball between his crotches and dropped it backwards. The LG bats then exploded, scoring four runs in the first inning. In the top of the second inning, Hanwha’s second pitcher Kim Ki-jung calmly picked off a ball and drew a walk, which started another big inning. Two more hits, two four-pitch at-bats, and a grand slam by Moon Bo-kyung scored six runs.
Trailing 10-7 in the top of the seventh, Seo singled up the middle to put runners on first and third and then came home on a sacrifice fly for her third run of the day. She did her part by going 2-for-5 with a double and three runs scored. With the multi-hit game, he improved his batting average to 3-for-4.
One of Shin’s strengths is his quick feet. Considered faster than Park Hae-min on the team, Shin uses his quick feet to generate a lot of infield hits. Eight of his 16 hits this season have been infield hits. NC Dinos’ Son Ah-seop has the most infield hits this season with 13, followed by KT Wiz’s Anthony Alford with 10 and LG’s Hong Chang-ki and SSG’s Eredia with nine. Shin Min-jae is tied for fifth with Doosan’s Jung Soo-bin, but Son has 57 outfield hits, while Alford has 39, Hong Chang-ki has 57, and Heredia has 58. Shin Min-jae has the same number of infield hits as outfield hits, 8-8. That means he has a high percentage of infield hits. If he misses and his bat speed decreases, he’s more likely to hit an infield hit in a close game.
That’s why Shin Min-jae’s presence at the plate makes the infield defense nervous. If the defense is late to react to a miss, it could result in an infield hit, and if the defense allows a stolen base, a miss could result in a double.
If Shin Min-jae continues to hit the way he is, he will continue to get opportunities. However, with Kim Min-sung in the lineup, Seo Ji-chang, who is in the second team, is also getting a chance. With Kim Min-sung and Shin Min-jae at second base, there’s no longer a hole in the LG lineup, which was plagued by Seo’s struggles early in the season. Shin Min-jae is becoming a stomach buster.