Everything to know about new Giants star, including his great nickname

December 12th, 2023

What do we know about Jung Hoo Lee, who, according to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand, agreed to a six-year deal with the Giants? Let's break it down.

All-around star

Entering his age-25 season next year, Lee has displayed skill on all sides of the ball in Korea, leading him to look for a new challenge in the Majors. Since making his debut as an 18-year-old in 2017, Lee has a career batting line of .340/.407/.491 -- never hitting below .318, which was his average in an injury-shortened 2023 season.

His contact abilities don't end at meatballs over the heart of the plate, though: He is more than happy to expand the strike zone and make contact on otherwise unhittable pitches.

"He doesn't really have a lot of weaknesses as a hitter," Jeeho Yoo, a sportswriter for Yonhap News, told MLB.com earlier this year. "They say he's a bad ball hitter, too. You can find some clips on Twitter going around where he does these Vlad Guerrero Sr. impressions. Like, the ball bounces in front of the plate and he somehow makes contact and hits a double."

His best campaign came in 2022 when Lee hit a career-high 23 home runs to go with 10 triples for a .996 OPS. Power was the one thing missing from the 6-foot outfielder's tool kit, so while his production dropped this summer, he has at least shown scouts the ability to muscle the ball out of the ballpark.

Feinsand also reports that Lee is considered an "above-average defensive center fielder," meaning that he should have plenty of value even if the power doesn't translate to the States.

A Classic star is born

While some thought Lee might opt to play another year in Korea after seeing his season end in July with a fractured ankle, that wasn't the case.

Perhaps that's thanks to his showing in the World Baseball Classic in March. Though Korea disappointed with a third-place finish in the Tokyo pool, Lee certainly didn't struggle. Facing the world's best, Lee posted a .429/.500/.571 batting line with two doubles, five RBIs and one steal.


Just as some of the Major Leagues' best players have strong familial ties, so does Lee: His father is legendary Korean shortstop Jong Beom Lee. In 16 KBO seasons -- he also played four more in Japan's NPB -- the man who who was nicknamed "Son of the Wind" hit .297 with 194 homers and 200 steals. He nearly even eclipsed the .400 mark in the 1994 season, finishing just shy with a .393 average.

While the younger Lee, who is known as “Grandson of the Wind,” may not have Jong Beom's speed, swiping 69 bags in his career thus far, he definitely has the same bat-to-ball skills.

The Giants weren't overly concerned with Lee's skills translating to the Major League game either, thanks in part to a breakout from Lee's former Heroes teammate, Ha-Seong Kim, this past season.

That's something that Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi echoed recently. 

"There are also a lot of players from Japan and South Korea coming over that have been successful the last few years whereas 10, 15 years ago there might have been a little bit more apprehension at that risk," Zaidi said on a recent episode of NBC Sports' Giants Talk. "I think there's enough of a track record now where if you do your homework you can have a lot of confidence in the contributions those players can make."

"Ha-Seong, my old teammate, has been doing fantastic in the Majors and I think what he's proven as a player and as a Korean player is that we have that fight in us and we never give up," Lee said at the WBC earlier this year. "I want to emulate him as a former teammate and a friend. When I get there, I want to plant the same kind of ideas to the fans. Personally, I want to lead the league in batting average and make history."


Perhaps the most important number the Giants focused on is Lee's age: 25. The other top free agent bats like Cody Bellinger (28), J.D. Martinez (36), Matt Chapman (31) or Jorge Soler (32) are all years older than Lee. That should give the team hope that Lee may have even more to offer as he grows accustomed to the American game.

The biggest question mark will be how Lee responds to big league velocity, as most KBO pitchers can't reach 95-plus mph heat. It's something that Lee specifically was working on going into the 2023 season.

"You just don't get that kind of velocity in the KBO," Yoo said. "So he's been working on a swing change to make sure he can handle those fastballs."