Rios, Im Win Honors

2007-10-31 : 17:38

Doosan Bears' Daniel Rios, left, and Im Tae-hoon pose Wednesday in Seoul after winning the KBO's Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. / Yonhap

By Kang Seung-woo
Staff Reporter

The Doosan Bears failed to sweep the Korean Series, despite taking a 2-0 lead over the SK Wyverns.

But they did complete a sweep at the regular-season awards ceremony Wednesday, as American pitcher Daniel Rios and Korean reliever Im Tae-hoon were selected as the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO)'s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

In polls conducted by local baseball reporters, the 34-year-old Rios got 71 votes out of 91, while the 19-year-old Im received 79 votes.

The runner-ups are Kia Tigers shortstop Lee Hyun-gon, who topped the league in batting with a .338 average, and Bears teammate Kim Hyun-soo, who batted .273 with five home runs, respectively.

Before the ceremony, both Rios and Im were expected to win the awards.

The American, who has played in the KBO for six consecutive years, won 22 games with a 2.07 ERA this season, leading the league in both categories. He also led the league in winning percentage with a .815.

Rios pitched 234 2/3 innings and earned six complete games, including four shutouts, to become not only the first KBO hurler to reach the 20-win plateau since 1999, but also the first foreign player to reach that mark in the history of the KBO.

Rios displayed some outstanding performances. Against the Wyverns on June 16, he ended an inning with three strikeouts on nine pitches. He also tossed a perfect game for 8 1/3 innings against the Hyundai Unicorns in his final regular-season outing on Oct. 3. In the postseason, he pitched in two shutouts.

Meanwhile, Im, the Bears' first-round draft pick, took the mound in 64 games as a reliever to go 7-3 with one save and 20 holds with a 2.40 ERA. The Seoul High School graduate is the only fireman in the league to throw more than 100 innings (101 1/3) with 93 strikeouts and 41 walks.

Rios said he was glad to be selected MVP, but he wanted to win the championship more than receiving the individual honor. The Bears squandered their 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Korean Series by losing their next four games.

It is the fourth time one team has won the MVP and Rookie of the Year awards in the same year. In 1985, Kim Sung-han and Lee Soon-chul accomplished that feat for the Haitai Tigers (now Kia Tigers). In 1993, Kim Sung-rae and Yang Joon-hyuk did it for the Samsung Lions. Then last year, Hanwha Eagles lefty Ryu Hyun-jin swept both awards.

Rios and Im join a list of Bears players who have won such awards since the KBO started in 1982. The Bears' Park Chul-soon (1982), Kim Sang-ho (1995) and Tyrone Woods (1998) each won MVP honors, while Park Jong-hoon (1983) and Youn Suk-hwan (1984) were named Rookie of the Year.