We are living in the age of Oh Seung-hwan.
Samsung Lions pitcher Oh Seung-hwan reached a milestone against the NC Dinos in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League on April 6 at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu.
He reached the milestone of 500 career saves in Korea and Japan. Seung-hwan Oh, who had 499 saves (377 in Korea, 80 in Japan and 42 in the United States) before the game, took the mound in the ninth inning and shut down the opposing batters.
Only two other players in the major leagues have more than 500 saves. Mariano Rivera with 652 saves and Trevor Hoffman with 601 saves.
Oh Seung-hwan is a living history of the KBO. Oh made his first-team debut on April 3, 2005, against the Lotte Giants at Daegu Citizens Stadium. On April 27, he recorded his first career save against the LG Twins at Daegu Citizens Stadium. He made a splash in his debut season in 2005, recording 16 saves. The following year, in 2006, he recorded 47 saves, the most in a single KBO season. To date, he has recorded a KBO single-season record of 47 saves twice (2006, 2011) and more than 40 saves four times (47 saves in 2006, 40 saves in 2007, 47 saves in 2011, 44 saves in 2021).
On September 18, 2007, against the Gwangju KIA Tigers, he surpassed the previous record of Choi Sung-joon (197 games) to reach 100 saves in the fewest number of games (180), and on August 12, 2011, against the Daegu KIA Tigers, he became the youngest and fewest KBO player to reach 200 saves in 334 games at the age of 29 years and 28 days.
On June 29, 2012, against the Daegu Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom Heroes), he made 227 saves, tying the KBO record for most saves held by Kim “Phoenix” Yong-soo. Two days later, on July 1, 2012, at the same venue and against the same team, he set a new KBO record for most saves. From then on, Oh’s saves meant victory for his team and KBO history.
After recording 277 saves in Korea, Oh moved to the Nippon Professional Baseball Hanshin in 2014. At Hanshin, Oh was still Oh Seung-hwan. He recorded 39 saves in 2014 and 41 saves in 2015. He won the saves title for two consecutive seasons.
The American scene was no different for Seung-hwan Oh. In 2016, he moved to St. Louis in the Major League Baseball. He recorded 19 saves in 2016 and 20 saves in 2017. He then spent time in Toronto and Colorado, where he recorded three saves in three seasons before returning to South Korea.
Seung-hwan Oh had 93 saves in three seasons before starting this season. On June 16, 2020, against the Doosan Bears, he reached 400 saves in the Korean Baseball Organization, and on April 25, 2021, against the Gwangju KIA, he reached 300 saves in the KBO.
This year was full of twists and turns. Oh wasn’t the same Seung-hwan we knew in April, going 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA, two holds and four saves 메이저놀이터, and two blown saves. At one point, he lost the closer’s job to lefty Lee Seung-hyun. But starting with his first start on May 3, Seung-hwan Oh gradually came alive and began to look like the pitcher we knew.
Today, Oh is 2-2 with eight saves and two complete games with a 4.01 ERA. He will now attempt to become the first KBO pitcher to reach 400 saves. He’s 22 saves away.
“I’ve always been reticent to talk about my personal performance, but this time I want to do it quickly. If I add 30 more saves, I will have 400 saves in the Korean Baseball Organization, and I want to change the record,” he said at the spring training camp in Okinawa, Japan, before this season. Oh Seung-hwan’s challenge continues.