“I hope to fulfill my promise one day.”
Moon Dong-ju (20-Hanwha Eagles) was named Rookie of the Year at the KBO Awards on Nov. 27. Moon received 76.6% of the vote (85 out of 111), beating out runner-up KIA’s Yoon Young-chul (15 votes).
It was the first time in 17 years since 2006 that a former Hanwha Eagles player was crowned Rookie of the Year, and the fourth time in history that an Eagles player was crowned Rookie of the Year.
In his second year, Moon appeared in 23 games and pitched 118⅔ innings, posting an 8-8 record with a 3.72 ERA.
Last year, he pitched 28⅔ innings in 13 games, making him eligible for Rookie of the Year. Rookie of the Year is defined as a player who joined the organization within the last five years and has pitched 30 innings or less.
This year, Moon went 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA in two games at the Hangzhou Asian Games, winning a gold medal, and later in the season, he pitched in the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), pitching 5⅔ innings of two-run ball against Australia in the first game.
“There are many things I want to say now that I’m standing here,” Moon said. What I’m thinking about most right now is the weight of the trophy. I’ll have to bear this weight well. I want to thank Coach Choi Won-ho, Coach Park Seung-min, and Coach Lee Dong-gul. I also want to thank Coach Subero and Coach Rosado. They helped me with power analysis and training, which is why I was able to win this award. Thank you to my parents and family.” “Lastly, I know it’s been 17 years since Ryu Hyun-jin won this award. I will give this honor to my fans,” he said.
After the ceremony, Moon laughed, saying, “The trophy was heavier than I thought it would be, and my head has been blank since then.
Some people felt that they were unable to express their gratitude. “I didn’t get to talk to Choi Jae-hoon. He said, ‘You did a good job this year, let’s go for 15 wins next year.’ I will go for 15 wins with him,” Moon said.
Eric Peddie (NC), the regular season MVP, jokingly cheered for Moon. Peddie pitched in 30 games this season, going 20-6 with a 2.00 ERA and leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts (209). He also won the defensive award.
Moon Dong-ju said, “Pedi asked me if the MVP trophy would be mine next year. “I can’t say that my performance overwhelmed the league in my first full-time year. I don’t think I can win the MVP yet, but I want to fulfill my promise one day since I talked about it. I don’t think I can win the MVP right away, but I think I need to improve a lot next year.”
The reason Moon told his MVP story was to motivate himself. “At the induction ceremony last year, I talked about my resolutions on the club’s YouTube channel. Rookie of the Year and Asian Games gold. I unintentionally delayed them by a year, and this year, I realized both of them. I realized that I can keep what I said in the future, and I feel like I can keep it even more because I spit out my words. I will continue to set goals and keep them.”
He also expressed his gratitude to his Rookie of the Year rival Yoon Young-chul (KIA). “Competing with him helped me a lot during the season. He is a very good player. He is a player who will have to compete with me a lot in the future. I will cheer for him and hope that we can have a good competition and have a good synergy with each other.”
Hanwha has the No. 1 overall pick in both the 2023 and 2024 rookie drafts. The 2023 pick, Kim Seo-hyun, throws a 160-kilometer-per-hour fastball, and the 2024 pick, Hwang Jun-seo, has a 150-kilometer-per-hour fastball and a steady delivery. All of them will compete for rookie of the year honors next season.
Moon said, “I think I need to be a better person and a better player so that players younger than me can grow their dreams by watching me. “There are a lot of juniors like (Kim) Seohyun and (Hwang) Junseo, so I have to be a better person and a good player so that younger players can look at me and dream. I will lead the way and do well so that I can be an example. I think (Kim Seo-hyun and Hwang Jun-seo) deserved to win the Rookie of the Year, and I hope they can show that our team can do it too,” he said.
There were also goals for individual titles. “After (the Rookie of the Year), I want to win the pitcher’s title,” Moon said. “This year, I didn’t think about the title because I was only thinking about the Rookie of the Year. I think the title I think I can do will come as I play next year’s season. I will focus more and do my best.”