Min-han Son

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Min-han Son (손민한)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Min-han Son has been a top pitcher in the Korea Baseball Organization and is a former league MVP.

In both high school and college, Son's catcher was Kab-yong Jin. He was 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in the 1993 Intercontinental Cup, losing a 1-0 duel to Hidekazu Watanabe of Japan. He had a 0-1, 2.35 record in the 1994 Baseball World Cup, taking a defeat against a talented Japanese squad. He won Silver in the 1994 Asian Games. Son was 1-1 with a 7.53 ERA in the 1995 Intercontinental Cup, allowing 21 hits in 14 1/3 IP and posting the worst ERA on South Korea's staff. In the 1995 Asian Championship, he helped Korea win Silver and a spot in the 1996 Olympics. He made his debut in the KBO with the Lotte Giants in 1997, going 1-3 with a save and a 4.80 ERA and walked 21 in 30 innings. In 1998, he did not pitch for Lotte and 1999 was not good either; he saved one game and had a 5.59 ERA that year. Son showed significant strides in 2000, going 12-7 with a 3.20 ERA. He ranked third in ERA behind Dae-sung Koo and Denny Harriger. He went 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA as a reliever for the South Korean team in the 2000 Olympics as they claimed the Bronze medal.

In 2001, Son was 15-6 despite a 4.21 ERA and 1.48 WHIP and tied Yoon-ho Shin for the KBO lead in victories. The next season, the right-hander was 4-9, though his ERA improved to 3.67, 9th in the league; the rest of the staff was 31-88 as the Giants were stuck in a miserable season.

Son was 3-11 with a 4.86 ERA in 2003 as Lotte was 39-91 for another 90-loss campaign. In 2004, Lotte remained last but improved to 50-72-11. Son was 9-2 with 8 saves and a 2.73 ERA; had he qualified, he would have ranked 4th in the KBO.

The 30-year-old helped Lotte out of the cellar and into 5th place in 2005 with a 18-7, one save, 2.46 campaign. He walked 40 in 168 1/3 innings, having found good control over the years. He easily led the league in ERA and also led in victories. Lotte's other pitchers were still just 40-60. He won the Korea Baseball Organization MVP award and also a KBO Gold Glove.

Son was on the South Korean team for the 2006 World Baseball Classic, going 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA in beating China and the USA and in a rough relief stint against Japan in the semifinals. He tied Jae Seo, Koji Uehara, Odalis Perez and Ormari Romero for second in the event in wins, one behind leader Daisuke Matsuzaka.

In the KBO season, Son had a 10-8, 2.78 record with one save. He won Bronze in the 2006 Asian Games. The 2007 season was another good one as Min-han went 13-10 with a 3.34 ERA to place 9th in the league in ERA. Son was one of the top pitchers in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, helping South Korea clinch a spot in the 2008 Olympics. He allowed 5 hits and one run in 12 innings, striking out sixteen and walking two, going 2-0. He benefited from facing two weak offenses, South Africa and Germany. Son was 4th in the tournament in ERA behind Steve Green, Chien-Fu Yang and Chih-Chia Chang. He was second in strikeouts, six behind leader Francisco Campos and six ahead of the #3 finishers. He tied Alexandre Periard, Green, Scott Richmond, Kwang-hyun Kim, Chien-Ming Chiang and Yang for the most wins.

In the 2008 KBO, Son went 12-4 with a 2.97 ERA. He was 6th in the league in ERA and tied for third in wins. He was on South Korea's roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic but did not pitch in a game; South Korean fans began asking about the "missing Min-han Son". He faded in 2009, going 6-5 with a 5.19 ERA in 14 games.

Despite often pitching for a bad Lotte squad, Son's career record through 2009 is 103-72 with 12 saves and a 3.46 ERA. He also has gone 6-3 for South Korea's national team.

Son was president of the Korea Professional Baseball Players Association when they voted to unionize in December 2009.