May’s monthly MVP race is shaping up to be a “family affair” for LG. The top hitters and top pitchers are all with LG. Catcher Park Dong-won, who hit nine home runs, and pitcher Lim Chan-kyu, who won all four games and posted a one-run ERA, are challenging for the monthly MVP.
The LG Twins took sole possession of first place in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League with a 7-1 victory over the KIA Tigers at Gwangju KIA Champions Field on April 28. The team also moved to 30 wins ahead of SSG Landers, a 20-win team that has played two fewer games. Starter Im Chan-kyu pitched an effective seven innings with 87 pitches to lead LG to victory.
Im’s performances have become a familiar sight. In 11 games (7 starts), he has a 5-1 record with a 1.97 ERA, a .222 batting average, and a 1.16 WHIP. Despite starting the season in the bullpen and only working his way into the starting rotation in mid-April, he’s gotten quality starts in three of his last four games.
In May, he is 4-0 with a 1.13 ERA in four games, leading the league in both categories. In addition to Lim, teammates Casey Kelly, NC Eric Peddie, and KT Wes Benjamin have all posted four wins in May, but Lim is the only one with a sub-1 ERA. He’s not going to win the monthly MVP award, but he deserves a nomination.
However, LG has another MVP candidate besides Im. The battery’s catcher, Park Dong-won, is a threat to Chan-gyu.
Although he went 0-for-4 in the 28th game, Park is batting .318 through 28 days, which is 19th in the league, he leads the league in OPS (1.192) thanks to a dominant on-base percentage. That’s thanks to nine home runs. Park’s OPS in May is a whopping 0.797, which is 0.202 higher than second-place SSG Choi Joo-hwan (0.595).
The nutritional value of his home runs is also perfect. Six of his nine have come within three runs. LG has won seven of the eight games Park has homered in (including a multi-homer game on May 25).
Led by Park Dong-won, 안전놀이터 who is in contention for monthly MVP honors, LG went 15-1 in May, adding a +10 run differential for the month. Head coach Yeom Kyung-yup aimed to hold on, and he’s already overachieved.
Meanwhile, LG reached the 30-win mark for the seventh time in its history with 28 wins. In 2021, they finished third in the regular season, but four other teams reached 30 wins, including champion KT. Reaching 30 wins is often a good indicator of the final regular season standings. In the nine years from 2014, Samsung (30 wins, 1 tie, 14 losses) to last year’s SSG (30 wins, 2 ties, 13 losses), all 30-win teams finished the regular season in first place.