After ‘Cosmic Energy’ Left SSG… The Feast is Over, If You Turn Away, It’s Really Over
SSG 2022 was a team with a “cosmic energy” and it was well deserved. The players stayed focused until the end of the game, armed with the confidence that they could win even if they were behind, and their opponents would often get tired and leave. The more they won, the stronger their chi became. 2022 was arguably SSG’s year.메이저사이트
SSG ranked second in the league in Pythagorean Winning Percentage, which is based on a goal-scoring model, in 2022 at .573. That’s a pretty big difference from the league leader LG (.653). However, their actual winning percentage of .629 was much higher than their Pythagorean winning percentage. This was largely due to the fact that they were very strong in one- and two-point games, and in overtime games where it was hard to tell which team was going to win because they really had to rely on their base stamina, which allowed them to pull away from LG at the end of the season and take the top spot.
SSG had a whopping 63 close, two-point games last year. That’s 43.8 percent of all games, meaning SSG was a “team to watch” in many of those games until the final seconds, but in those 63 games, they swept 45 (.714). Opponents were not wrong when they said, “They’re good, but they lose at the end of the game.” In overtime, they went 10-4 (.714), which is still better than a 7 percent win rate. They didn’t win because they were strong, they won because they were strong. SSG was that team.
Metrics like winning percentage in one-point games will eventually converge to a team’s overall winning percentage for the season. Taking this into account, this unusually high win percentage could be interpreted as an indicator of a team’s dominance, as well as a bit of luck. The same can be said for the elements of the season, such as the opening 10-game winning streak that started the miracle of the NCs and the opening series, where the team was fortunate to have key players injured. The old saying “winning the Korean Series is a combination of skill and luck” has been proven again.
These cosmic forces seemed to follow SSG until the middle of the season. They weren’t as lucky as last year, but they were still strong in close games. Even when the bats weren’t clicking, the mound somehow managed to preserve the lead, and on days when the mound was a little shaky, the team would pound the opposition with home runs. Opposing runners were often strangely erased, but this also raised some concerns. If this luck were to leave the team, what would the team do about it?
In fact, SSG had one of the highest base-running rates in the league this season. Closer Seo Jin-yong is a prime example of this. However, there is a process of regression to the mean. In other words, the rate couldn’t have been this high forever. It was a natural calculation that runs would increase. The batting lineup’s luck gradually faded as the injuries piled up. While the team is still strong in close games, it’s becoming more often than not that they’re getting blown out. Luck doesn’t play a role in those games.
SSG’s Pythagorean winning percentage this year is just 0.469. Not surprisingly, they have conceded more points (536) than they have scored (504). Even in this situation, a true win percentage of over 5% means that SSG still had the ‘cosmic luck’ with them for a while. Lately, they’ve had no such luck. The team’s weaknesses are showing through, and with their poor results, it’s clear that the players no longer believe in their own strength. The team is clearly nervous. On the 3rd against the KIA in Incheon, the next six batters didn’t get a hit and all of them retired. This is the reality of SSG right now.
SSG is 10-16 since August. Their team ERA is 5.36, which is 9th in the league. Their team OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) is .681, which is eighth in the league. They are in the bottom half of the league in both pitching and hitting. With their “cosmic energy” gone, it’s hard to imagine the team performing well. The team hasn’t lost a game or two when foreign pitchers and Kim Kwang-hyun have been available, but the streak hasn’t been very long either. The flow is sagging, and the players are tired. New faces are rarely seen or are on the bench or in the second team.
SSG won a three-game series against KIA in Gwangju from June 6-8, all by one point. The phrase “sweep” went around the KIA camp, but the September 1-3 series in Incheon was different. The mound collapsed in disastrous fashion and the bats went silent, dropping three games. It was a difference in performance that luck had little to do with. Of course, KIA’s power is stronger than it was then, but it can also be seen as a symbol of SSG, which has fallen in just two to three months.
More crashes await in 2019 and beyond. Arithmetically, yes. At the time, SK had a huge lead over second-place Doosan before eventually flipping and falling into the playoffs. It was a victim of a historic race, but SK wasn’t this fragile back then. The batting lineup was suffering from an extreme slump, but the pitching staff was solid. They may have fallen off a cliff since August, but they still had a winning percentage of about 5% (.488). It would be unfair to compare them to SSG now.
SSG is no better now than the humble SK was back then. Starters are jagged. I can’t remember the last time they won a game with 4-5 starters. The bats are powerless. Since August 15, SSG has lost all seven games in which they trailed by five innings. If they can’t hit to start, they can’t hit to finish. The bullpen is uneasy with a 1-2 run lead. Since August 15, SSG has come from behind six times. The most in the league. They’ve won just four of the seven games they’ve led in the fifth inning.
The coaching staff was reshuffled in a three-day span, but that’s another reason to sigh. The fact that the main players haven’t been able to find their form all season is as much the fault of the coaches as it is of the players, and if they recognized that, they should have reshuffled sooner. Most of the coaches who came in in September don’t have much first-team experience. I’m not sure they have a good grasp of the recent strengths and weaknesses of the first team players. They are not solvers. In the end, it’s all about atmosphere. Otherwise, they have nothing to say.
A change in atmosphere may improve the team’s performance, but it is not a guarantee of sustainable team success. The coaching staff and front office either don’t realize that the “cosmic energy” has long since left the team, or they’re trying to ignore it. Either way, it’s a problem. Reorganization starts with facing that reality. There’s no crazy parent group that’s going to tell you to spend this money and take it easy and hit the “rebuild button” instead.
2019 is a sore spot in the franchise’s history, but the bigger problem is that they refused to recognize that the party was over. They still won the 2018 Korean Series. The 2019 team won 88 games in the regular season. Even with the loss of their ace, they were optimistic that they could still make the postseason next season. It was an unrealistic expectation, and it pushed aside some of the more vocal voices pointing out the problems. There were already signs of cracks in the team, and we turned a blind eye to them.
This inattention, coupled with an aging roster, led to the team’s downfall. In 2020, SK fell to ninth place and then faded into history. All hell broke loose early in the season, and an unprepared team crumbled before it could even turn on a dime. The key for SSG now is to avoid repeating that pain. Can the loss on September 3 be the day that dramatically resurrects their prospects for 2023 and 2024 and beyond, can they re-set the table for a feast that’s already over, scraps to be picked up a month later? Not much time left.