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Jung Hoo Lee's Remarkable Journey to His First MLB Home Run

Published: 3/31/2024

Author: OnlyHomers

Jung Hoo Lee's remarkable entry into Major League Baseball with the San Francisco Giants not only marks a significant milestone for the South Korean baseball player but also highlights the growing influence of Asian players in the league. Known for his impressive skills honed during his seven-year tenure with the Kiwoom Heroes, Lee's debut is a testament to his dedication and the bright future of Korean baseball in MLB.


His transition from a celebrated career in Seoul, South Korea, to the challenging fields of MLB encapsulates the dreams of many Asian athletes aiming for global recognition in sports such as major league baseball, the Asian Games, and the World Baseball Classic. Lee's journey, characterized by his rookie of the year potential and the support of the Korean sports community, sets an inspiring narrative for emerging talents in the realm of South Korean baseball players.


Jung Ho Lee's Early Career and Transition to MLB

Jung Hoo Lee's transition from the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) to Major League Baseball (MLB) with the San Francisco Giants is a story of talent, determination, and strategic moves by the Giants' management. Here are key points of his early career and transition:


  • Elite Contact Skills and KBO Performance: Lee showcased exceptional skills in the KBO, with a .340/.407/.491 slash line over seven seasons, earning him numerous awards including the KBO League Rookie of the Year (2017) and the KBO League Most Valuable Player Award (2022).

  • Strategic Acquisition by the Giants: The Giants' general manager, Pete Putila, personally scouted Lee, traveling to South Korea to watch his final game with the Kiwoom Heroes. This move underscored the Giants' commitment and belief in Lee's abilities to succeed in MLB. On December 14, 2023, Lee signed a six-year, $113 million contract with the Giants, marking a significant milestone in his career and for the Giants.

  • Recovery and Readiness: Despite undergoing left ankle surgery, Lee has fully recovered and expressed confidence in his ability to adapt to MLB, citing his premium bat-to-ball skills. His recovery and readiness for Spring Training are crucial for his debut season with the Giants.

These elements combined illustrate the strategic planning behind Lee's recruitment and his potential impact on the Giants and MLB.


The Home Run: A Detailed Account

  • The Pitch and Swing:

    • Pitch Details: The pivotal home run came off a pitch from Cosgrove of the Padres, characterized as a sweeper with a velocity of 77.8 mph and a spin rate of 2803 rpm.

    • Swing Analysis: Lee's swing resulted in an exit velocity of 104.4 mph, a launch angle of 32°, and a hit distance of 405 ft, showcasing his ability to connect powerfully and precisely.

  • Historic Moment:

    • Date and Opponent: Jung Hoo Lee hit his first major league home run on March 30, 2024, against the San Diego Padres, marking a memorable moment in his MLB career.

    • Family Witness: Adding to the moment's significance, Lee's father, Jong Bom Lee, a 1994 KBO MVP, was present in the stadium, alongside Lee's son and grandfather, symbolizing three generations of baseball excellence.

  • Game Impact:

    • The home run was not just a personal achievement for Lee but a critical insurance run for the Giants, extending their lead to 4-1 in the top of the 8th inning, ultimately contributing to the Giants' 9-6 victory against the Padres.

Impact on the Giants and MLB


Jung Hoo Lee's signing with the Giants has not only been a significant financial commitment but also a strategic move expected to enhance the team's performance in multiple aspects. Here's a detailed look at the anticipated impact:

  • Offensive Contributions:

    • Projection Accuracy: Analysts and projection systems (ZiPS, Pecota, Steamer) anticipate Lee to have a batting average between .275 and .291, with an on-base percentage ranging from .344 to .354 and a slugging percentage between .414 to .433.

    • Home Run Potential: Expected to hit between eight and 12 home runs, Lee's power at the plate adds a new dimension to the Giants' offensive strategy.

    • Strike Zone Mastery: With a projected strikeout rate as low as 7.3% by ZiPS, Lee's ability to make contact and avoid strikeouts enhances the Giants' lineup efficiency.

  • Defensive and Base-Running Skills:

    • Fielding Excellence: As the new center fielder, Lee is anticipated to bolster the Giants' defense, contributing both offensively and defensively to the team's success.

    • Base-Running Disruption: Lee's impressive base-stealing skills and ability to cause significant disruption on the base paths add a dynamic layer to the Giants' game strategy.

  • Team Dynamics and Adaptability:

    • Smooth Transition: Lee's seamless adaptation to the new environment, combined with his efforts to learn and integrate into the team, speaks volumes about his commitment and potential impact on team morale and performance.

    • Leadership and Intangibles: Described as a "premier hitter" and "good teammate," Lee's presence in the clubhouse is expected to foster a positive atmosphere and drive the team towards greater achievements.

This multifaceted impact underscores the Giants' decision to invest in Lee, projecting him as a key player who will contribute significantly to the team's aspirations in the seasons to come.


Jung Hoo Lee's transition from the Korea Baseball Organization to the San Francisco Giants encapsulates a journey of determination, skill, and the melding of cultural influences within Major League Baseball. His early achievements, from the thrilling first home run against the Padres to his anticipated impact on the Giants' performance, exemplify not only his exceptional talent but also the strategic foresight of the Giants' management in recognizing and nurturing international prowess. Lee's story serves as an inspiring testament to the endless possibilities that dedication and cross-cultural collaboration can unlock, highlighting his role not just as a player but as a bridge between different worlds of baseball.

The broader implications of Lee's career in MLB extend beyond his individual accomplishments, signaling a growing trend of international talent reshaping the landscape of American baseball. As the Giants and their fans celebrate Lee's contributions and anticipate future successes, the narrative of international players like Lee enriches the sport, fostering a more inclusive and diverse competitive environment. This progression not only elevates the game but also encourages aspiring athletes worldwide to dream big and aim for global stages, solidifying baseball's status as a truly universal sport.


Q: Who is credited with hitting the inaugural home run in Major League Baseball history?

A: Ross Barnes of the Chicago White Stockings, who would later become the Chicago Cubs, made history by hitting the first home run in the National League back in 1876.

Q: Which MLB player holds the record for the most consecutive games with a home run?

A: Dale Long, who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates, established an MLB record by hitting home runs in eight consecutive games from May 19 to May 28, 1956. He was a relatively unknown first baseman before achieving this remarkable feat.