The KBO League’s August MVP honor goes to foreign pitcher William Cuevas, 33, who is leading the KT Wiz’s breakout season. In particular, Cuevas showed his class by stepping up to the plate and calming his players down after a bench-clearing incident during a home game against the LG Twins last week. And even though he didn’t win the MVP, there was another winner. Noh Si-hwan, 23, of the Hanwha Eagles, the “emerging big gun” who received the most fan support.
The Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) officially announced on Wednesday that Cuevas was named the August Monthly MVP of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League. Cuevas received overwhelming support, garnering a whopping 25 out of 30 votes (83.3%) from journalists. Although he received only 23,562 votes (6%) out of a total of 390,207 votes in the fan vote, for a total of 44.40 points, he eventually won his first individual MVP award with a total of 44.69 points with the support of the journalists. This is the first time in nearly two years that a KT Wiz player has won the monthly MVP award since pitcher Ko Young-pyo in September 2021.메이저놀이터
Cuevas had a fantastic month of August, going 5-0 with a 0.50 ERA in five games. Cuevas proved to be a true ace in all five of his starts, going at least seven innings in all five games. He also pitched a no-hitter in three of his five August starts. On August 2 against SSG, August 15 against Doosan, and August 20 against Hanwha, he threw seven shutout innings. In the remaining two games, he pitched seven innings of one-run ball against Hanwha on August 8 and eight innings of one-run ball against Lotte on August 27, posting a Quality Start Plus (7+ innings pitched, 3 earned runs or less) in all of his August games. He also ranked second in strikeouts with 37, averaging more than one per inning.
Cuevas also led the league in wins, winning all five of his starts. With five wins in August alone, Cuevas is now 8-0 on the season. With at least two more wins without a loss, he will be in the running for the “100% Win Rate” award, which is given to players with 10 or more wins.
KT Cuevas pitches against the Doosan Bears in Game 1 of the 2021 Korean Series on November 14, 2021.
In fact, Cuevas may never return to the KBO. After joining KT in 2019, Cuevas was an ace for the organization for four seasons until last year, posting a 33-23 record with a 3.89 ERA in 82 career appearances. He won 13 games in 2019, followed by 10 in 2020, his second straight season with double-digit wins. Then in 2021, after securing nine wins in the regular season, he took the mound in the pennant race tiebreaker against the Samsung Lions. He pitched seven innings of one-hit ball with eight strikeouts and three walks to lead his team to the regular season title. In the Korean Series, he started Game 1 against the Doosan Bears and pitched 7⅔ innings of one-run (one earned), seven-hit ball, striking out eight and walking none to lead the Bears to victory.
However, Cuevas was sidelined with an injury after just one win in two games in the 2022 season. Although he left KT at the time, he said it wasn’t a complete departure, and he was very close to his teammates. Then came the opportunity to return to KT. With foreign pitcher Bo Schuler (1-7, 5.62 ERA) struggling to start the season, there was a void in the pitching staff, and KT reached out to Cuevas again. Prior to joining KT, Cuevas had been playing for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization this season. He was in good shape and had no issues with his game, so KT re-signed him for a total of $450,000 (about $580,000). Despite joining in the middle of the season, his performance has been nothing short of spectacular. In 14 starts this season, he is 8-0 with a 3.09 ERA, 79 hits (3 home runs), 16 walks, 74 strikeouts, 29 runs (29 earned), a 1.13 WHIP, and a .248 batting average in 84 1/3 innings. That’s 10 quality starts.
Cuevas had no trouble adjusting, especially since he already had experience in Korea. He integrated well with the team and led the KT mound again. In a game against the LG Twins at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on July 7, he quickly stormed out of the dugout after the bench was cleared in the ninth inning. He then walked over to Park Hae-min, who was obviously upset, and patted him on the chest. Even though he was a stranger, it was a classy gesture from an ace who cares about his opponent’s feelings. In the end, the bench clearing was completed without incident.
While Cuevas deservedly won the MVP award, fan sentiment went elsewhere, and another winner was Noh Si-hwan, the next big thing for the Hanwha Eagles and Korean baseball. Noh received just one vote in the journalists’ poll. However, he garnered a whopping 170,674 votes in the fan vote, garnering over 45% of the vote. His total score was 23.54 points, second only to Cuevas. In the month of August, Noh played in 22 games, batting .244 (20-for-82) with 24 RBIs and 15 runs scored, including eight home runs. After hitting two in April and seven in May, he followed that up with six each in June and July. He also led the league in home runs and RBIs in each month. In 118 games this season, Noh is batting .304 (142-for-467) with 30 home runs, 96 RBI, 77 runs scored, 66 walks, 105 strikeouts, a 0.563 slugging percentage, a 0.393 OPS, and a 0.956 on-base percentage. Noh, who previously won his first ever Monthly MVP award in July, had a meaningful time receiving the most support from fans.