Even if I don’t want to admit it, I can’t help but admit it. Raul Alcantara (31, Doosan), a foreign pitcher who failed to achieve success in Japan, is dominating the KBO league after three years. The obvious league level difference between Korean and Japanese baseball is revealed. 

Alcantara pitched overwhelmingly with no hits and no runs until the 8th inning against KT in Suwon on the 20th. Lee Ho-yeon hit a heavy hit and broke the record, but he pitched 8 innings with 1 hit, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts and no runs, leading Doosan to a 6-0 victory. 

Alcantara, who won 5 wins (2 losses) this season, also lowered the average ERA from 1.50 to 1.29. On this day, he surpassed NC Eric Peddy (1.63), who scored 3 runs in 5⅓ innings against Samsung in Changwon, and rose to first place in this category. He ranks first in batting average (.186), third in wins, tied for second in innings (56), second in WHIP (0.93), and third in strikeouts (61), ranking within three fingers in major categories.  

Alcantara, a right-handed fastball pitcher from the Dominican Republic, came to Korea wearing a KT uniform in 2019. Alcantara, who moved the team to Doosan in 2020 and played 31 games (198⅔ innings) with an average ERA of 2.54 and 182 strikeouts, won the Golden Glove in the pitcher category with 1st place in most wins, 2nd place in innings and strikeouts, and 4th place in average ERA. It overcame the problem of deciding balls by increasing the rate of forkballs, centered on strong fastballs in the 150km range. 

The Japanese professional baseball Hanshin Tigers scouted Alcantara and spent a huge amount of money (estimated) 4 million dollars in 2 years. However, from the first year of entering Japan in 2021, Alcantara started as a starter, but changed his position to the bullpen during the season. After a turn or two of his batting order, his sharpness dropped. His first year record was 24 games (59⅓ innings), 3 wins, 3 losses, 6 holds, and an earned run average of 3.49. 

Last year, his second year, he spent a full-time season as a rescuer, but had an average ERA of 4.70 with 1 win, 3 losses, 1 save and 17 holds in 39 games (38⅓ innings). He had a below-average earned run average of 4 in the league as a pitcher. He had the highest earned run average of 20 players with 17 or more holds. After August, he was pushed into a losing group without a hold, and he was excluded from the postseason entry and failed to renew his contract. 

Since then, Alcantara, which signed a contract with Doosan for a total of $900,000, is showing off its strength on the Korean stage after returning after three years. The average fastball of 150km is still the same, and the falling forkball added sharpness. He still has his signature aggressive pitching and stamina. He continues his consistency with 7 quality starts, including 6 consecutive games in recent years. He was a pitcher who didn’t even work in the middle a year ago in Japan, but he’s a completely different figure in Korea. 

There may be many factors such as the characteristics of the Korean-Japanese league and the team’s environment and cultural differences, but it is a performance that is difficult to ignore the difference in league level. Prior to Alcantara, several foreign players, including Hyundai outfielder Cliff Brumba, Doosan pitcher Gary Leth, SK pitcher Chris Seddon, and Nexen pitcher Andy Van Hecken, went to Japan to take advantage of their success in Korea. 메이저놀이터

There are foreign players who have been very successful in Japan following Korea, such as Tyrone Woods, pitcher Seth Graysinger, and Rick Vanden Hulk, but foreign hitters who dominate Korea such as Yamaiko Navarro, Willin Rosario, and Mel Rojas Jr. 

It was confirmed that the gap in baseball skills between Korea and Japan, which was clearly revealed at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) last spring, is difficult to narrow in a short period of time. Thanks to Alcantara’s great success after returning from Japan, I continued to face an unforgettable reality that was difficult to ignore even if I wanted to forget it.

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