About the only disappointing aspect of Lin An-Ko’s 2020 season is that the Uni-President 7-Eleven Lions have opted not to use him as a two-way player. Oh, how nice it would be if they had decided to go down that route and he was dominating opposing hitters on the mound and frustrating opposing pitchers at the plate. Alas, the Lions wanted An-Ko to focus on his hitting and so he gave up pitching for the time being. One day though, one day hopefully An-Ko will be the two-way player we all want to see.
Presently An-Ko is having a monster year at the dish. He’s well on track to joining the ranks of Lin Li and Wang Po-Jung as Chinese Professional Baseball League rookies who set the league on fire. Opposing pitchers can’t seem to find a method to solve An-Ko’s approach at the plate. I mean, it’s a simple approach consisting of seeing the ball and hitting it very hard. Still, it’s an approach that is working to the tune of a .380/.453/.720 slash line.
Those who have followed An-Ko knew he was capable of a season such as his 2020. That still doesn’t lessen the impact of what he is doing. At the tender age of twenty-three he is putting up a 154 WRC+ season. In the entirety of the league he currently only trails Chu Yu-Hsien in that stat. He’s outperforming Li by a smidge and has managed to make himself the talk of the league by not just hanging in there with the two best players in the league but by giving them everything they can handle and then some.
Breaking down how An-Ko is succeeding is really quite simple. He’s your typical CPBL hitter in most aspects. He doesn’t walk a ton and he strikes out a decent amount. He’s a free swinger who gets on base via making contact as opposed to anything else. What seems to separate An-Ko from the rest of the pack are the same attributes that have helped Li and Yu-Hsien to their places on top of the CPBL mountain. An-Ko consistently makes contact and when he does it is of the loud and hard variety.
Of his 35 hits on the season the half-Argentinian (which makes him the highest level ballplayer of Argentinian heritage in the world) half-Taiwanese An-Ko has 11 doubles and 7 home runs. That accounts for his high slugging percentage. An-Ko also has 1 triple and 2 stolen bases. That may not seem like a lot, but An-Ko has good speed and even better awareness on the basepaths. He’s judicious about when he swipes a bag or when he takes that extra base. That places him in the Li category of players, the rare power, contact, speed combo.
He’s young and An-Ko is a CPBL star in the making. His two-way ability adds an extra layer to his skillset. I’m not sure how much the Lions will ever pursue that aspect of his skillset but that it is even present makes him perhaps the most interesting player in all the CPBL. It’s become quite clear that in terms of the complete package being presented An-Ko is the player most likely to give Li a run for his money as King of the CPBL. When you add in the two-way potential An-Ko may wind up being the best player to ever come out of the CPBL, he has that much potential.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Unknown