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Player Spotlight: Lee Seung-yeop of the Samsung Lions

Player Spotlight: Lee Seung-yeop of the Samsung Lions

Lee Seung-yeop, better known in Korea as the Lion King, has been a fan favorite in Daegu for years. Lee played for the Samsung Lions for nine years from 1995-2003 and has returned this season after spending the last eight in Japan.

Lee is a power hitting first baseman and arguably the greatest hitter in Korean baseball history.

Prior to leaving for Japan, Lee was a five time KBO MVP (1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003), won two gold gloves (1998, 2000), and won two Korea Series titles (2001, 2002) all with Samsung.

He holds the Asian record for most home runs in a season with 56 in 2003. He was also the youngest player ever to hit 300 home runs at the age of 26. That is even younger than the MLB record held by Alex Rodriguez at just under 28 years old.

The stats he put up during his first run with Samsung were staggering. He drove in 100 or more runs 5 times (the KBO plays 132 game seasons). He hit 30 or more home runs 7 times including twice hitting 50 or more. He hit .300 6 times and was a lifetime .305 hitter in Korea before this season in which he hit .307.

After the 2003 season, Lee moved to Japan to play for the Chiba Lotte Marines. He got off to a slow start in Japan hitting only 14 home runs with a .240 average, but he picked it up the following year with a line of 30/82/.260 helping Chiba win the Japan Series.

His best year in Japan came in hits third year there. He moved to the Yomiuri Giants and thrived. Lee blasted 41 home runs, drove in 108 runs, and hit at a .323 clip for the season.

With the potential to leave and play for a MLB club, Lee stayed in Japan. He had another good season in 2007 but the next few were plagued by injuries. In limited duty he helped Yomiuri win the Japan Series in 2009 fulfilling a wish of his.

In his last season in Japan, Lee played for the Orix Buffaloes. There he hit just .201 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI.

There was a lot of talk that he was finished, but he decided to return to Korea signing a 1-year deal with Samsung.

This season, at the age of 36, he hit 21 home runs, drove in 85, and hit .307. He has kept it going so far in the postseason hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning of Game 1 in the 2012 Korea Series.

He is a well decorated veteran. Having won 4 titles (2 in Korea and 2 in Japan) and 2 Olympic medals including a gold at the 2008 Games in Beijing Lee is looking to add another title with Samsung this year. They lead 1-0 in the best-of-seven series.

Career Statistics in KBO

Season Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB SF BB HBP K GIDP E AVG SLG OBP OPS
1995 Lions 121 365 55 104 29 1 13 73 0 9 33 4 54 4 8 0.285 0.477 0.345 0.822
1996 Lions 122 459 57 139 32 6 9 76 4 6 34 5 42 10 5 0.303 0.458 0.354 0.812
1997 Lions 126 517 96 170 37 3 32 114 5 5 49 6 79 10 4 0.329 0.598 0.391 0.989
1998 Lions 126 477 100 146 32 2 38 102 0 8 78 5 97 4 3 0.306 0.621 0.404 1.025
1999 Lions 132 486 128 157 33 2 54 123 10 4 112 12 114 7 0 0.323 0.733 0.458 1.191
2000 Lions 125 454 108 133 33 0 36 95 4 3 80 7 113 5 2 0.293 0.604 0.404 1.008
2001 Lions 127 463 101 128 31 2 39 95 4 3 96 12 130 6 4 0.276 0.605 0.412 1.017
2002 Lions 133 511 123 165 42 2 47 126 1 2 89 15 109 11 4 0.323 0.689 0.436 1.125
2003 Lions 131 479 115 144 23 0 56 144 7 6 101 10 89 11 5 0.301 0.699 0.428 1.217
Total - 1143 4211 883 1286 292 18 324 948 35 46 672 76 827 68 35 0.305 0.614 0.410 1.024

[edit]Career statistics in NPB

Season Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB SF BB HBP K GIDP E AVG OBP SLG OPS
2004 Lotte 100 333 50 80 20 4 14 50 1 3 42 3 88 6 4 0.240 0.328 0.450 0.779
2005 Lotte 117 408 64 106 25 2 30 82 5 3 33 1 79 9 2 0.260 0.315 0.551 0.886
2006 Yomiuri 143 524 101 169 30 0 41 108 5 7 56 5 126 5 3 0.323 0.389 0.616 1.003
2007 Yomiuri 137 541 84 148 29 2 30 74 4 1 38 1 119 8 5 0.274 0.322 0.501 0.823
2008 Yomiuri 45 153 21 38 4 0 8 27 1 0 11 6 37 3 0 0.248 0.324 0.431 0.755
2009 Yomiuri 77 223 33 51 9 0 16 36 1 1 28 5 65 1 3 0.229 0.327 0.484 0.811
2010 Yomiuri 56 92 13 15 1 0 5 11 1 0 12 3 26 0 2 0.163 0.280 0.337 0.617
2011 Orix 122 394 28 79 20 0 15 51 0 6 32 0 121 8 4 0.201 0.257 0.365 0.622
Total - 797 2668 394 686 138 8 159 439 18 21 252 24 661 40 23 0.257 0.324 0.494 0.818

Photo Courtesy Korea Times

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About Eric Bynum
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.

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