Soon-chul Lee (이순철)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 8", Weight 176 lb.
Soon-chul Lee has played, coached and managed in the Korea Baseball Organization. He led the KBO 3 times in steals, twice in runs and once in hits. He also played in the Olympics.
Lee was with South Korea in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup. He hit .273/.340/.273 for South Korea in the 1984 Amateur World Series as their primary left fielder. For someone who would be noted for his baserunning, he was disappointing, going 2-for-5 in steal attempts. He also appeared for South Korea in the 1984 Olympics.
Lee started his professional career in 1985 with the Haitai Tigers, hitting .304/.365/.447 with 31 stolen bases. He led the league with 67 runs. He was named KBO Rookie of the Year and won a Gold Glove as the best all-around third baseman in the KBO. In 1986, he batted .257/.325/.451 followed by a .215/.291/.336 season in 1987. Lee bounced back in 1988 when his batting line improved to .313/.404/.483 and he stole 58 bases in 78 tries. He led the league in steals for the first time and also led in runs (81). He won a Gold Glove in the outfield.
Lee slumped back to .241/.333/.378 with 24 steals in 1989. In 1990, he hit .249/.356/.396 and stole 26 bases, but was thrown out running 16 times. He batted .276/.373/.456 in 1991 and swiped 56 bases in 74 tries. He also hit 17 home runs. He won his third Gold Glove, again as an outfielder.
In 1992, Lee hit .309/.389/.494 for a career year. He led the league in hits (152), smacked 21 homers, scored 101 times and stole a league-best 44 bases (he was caught 16 times). He was five runs behind leader Jong-hun Jang. He won a 4th Gold Glove, his third in the outfield.
Soon-chul batted .253/.341/.392 in 1993 and went 29-for-37 in steal attempts. In '94, the Haitai outfielder hit .322/.386/.471 and stole 18 bases in 25 tries. His streak of 6 straight seasons with double-digit home runs ended. The next year, the veteran batted .201/.278/.314 and stole 13 bases while being caught four times.
Lee continued to struggle in 1996, when the 35-year-old hit .219/.304/.311 and stole 26 bases in 33 tries. In 1997, he batted .213/.296/.329. That year, he broke Il-kwon Kim's KBO career record for steals (363) (he held the record for four years, before Jun-ho Jeon surpassed him). He moved to the Samsung Lions for his final season, 1998, and hit .213/.291/.319 in 72 games while stealing only 3 bases.
Overall, Lee hit .262/.348/.411 in 1,388 games in the KBO. He hit 217 doubles and 145 home runs and stole 371 bases in 516 tries. Through 2005, he ranked among the all-time KBO leaders in doubles (tied for 23rd with Jae-hong Park), games (15th), double plays ground into (6th, 130), hits (23rd, 1,252), home runs (24th), RBI (25th, 612), runs (9th, 768), steals (4th), strikeouts (20th, 687), triples (19th, 30) and BB+HBP (19th, 625).
After retiring as a player, Lee coached for the Lions (1999-2000) and LG Twins (2001-2003). He managed LG from 2004 until June 2006, when he stepped down. He was a commentator for MBC ESPN in 2007. In 2008, he coached for the Woori Heroes. He coached for South Korea in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, when they finished second.