“Won-joon, let’s do it for a long time…”
That’s what Doosan Bears catcher Yang Yang-ji (36) said on May 23 after he and left-hander Jang Won-jun (38) combined for 130 KBO wins against the Samsung Lions in Jamsil. Yang signed a four-year, 12.5 billion won contract with the NC Dinos in the 2018-2019 free agent market, so it was special to see him back in Changwon.
It took Jang Won-jun a whopping five years to go from 129 wins to 130 wins. His 129th win came on May 5, 2018, at LG Electronics in Jamsil, meaning his wanderings coincided with a brief absence of Yang Ji in Doosan history. This season, Jang put together a meaningful final season with the help of the returning Yang Ji.
Yang Ji and Jang Won-jun were the battery of souls that carried Doosan through its heyday. Jang Won-jun broke into the game with a four-year, 8 billion won free agent contract in 2014-2015 and continued his “Jang Koo-jun” mode in Doosan with Yang Ji’s help, so it was quite nostalgic to see them together after so many years.
Yang Ji’s “long live Jang Won-jun” was sincere, but Jang Won-jun was unable to fulfill Yang Ji’s wishes. He hung up his jersey a year after Yang Ji returned. Doosan announced Jang’s retirement on April 28. The final game of the regular season for Doosan was the 17th against the Incheon SSG Landers (4⅓ innings, 7 hits, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts, 5 runs – loss).
Although Yang’s wishes were not fulfilled, Jang had a very successful career. He was the highest-paid pitcher in free agency. He went 12-12 with a 4.08 ERA in 30 games in 2015, 15-6 with a 3.32 ERA in 27 games in 2016, and 14-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 29 games in 2017. He was the centerpiece of the Doosan dynasty and went down in the history books as the most successful free agent outside of Doosan.
Jang Won-jun was an up-and-down pitching prospect for a while after debuting with the Lotte Giants in 2004, but broke out in 2008 with a 12-10 record and 3.53 ERA in 26 games. He followed that up with eight straight years of double-digit wins until 2017.굿모닝토토
Although he struggled from 2018 onward, Jang fought to stay afloat, even wearing a two-seam until the end of his career. He even waived his eligibility after his free agency ended to try to salvage his pride, and he finished the year with a 3-5 record and a 5.27 ERA in 11 games.
No. 3 behind Kwang Hyun-jong. His 132 career wins are the third most by a left-hander after Yang Hyun-jong (168, KIA Tigers) and Kim Kwang-hyun (158, SSG Landers). Including retired pitchers, he ranks ninth in wins. He ranks 9th in career innings pitched with 2,000 and 4th among left-handers behind Song Jin-woo (3003), Yang Hyun-jong (2332⅓), and Kim Kwang-hyun (2015⅓). He also ranks 11th with 1,385 career strikeouts and fifth among lefties behind Song Jin-woo (2048K), Yang Hyun-jong (1947K), Kim Kwang-hyun (1728K), and Chau Chan (1413K).
It’s safe to say that Jang has had a successful career. It’s been a glorious 20 years.