|Chiang Chih-Hsien will try and help a Guardians lineup that is looking quite potent in 2018.|
Photo: The Oliver Photo
The Fubon Guardians kept their busy offseason in high gear as they greatly improved their lineup after signing the previously released Chinatrust Brothers players IF Chiang Chih Hsien, OF Chang Cheng-Wei, and pitchers Chen Hung-Wen and Lin Yu-Ching. Chang, Chen and Lin have reported to spring training but Chiang is still playing with the Sydney Blue Sox of the Australian Baseball League and will report after their season has concluded, according to Chiang’s agent and reported by Pb+. All four will be playing 2018 on one-year contracts.
A defensive liability in the outfield, Chang (Flower) Cheng-Wei is one of the better leadoff hitters in the league as his ability to hit for average (career .329 hitter over eight seasons) and get on base (three-straight .400-plus OBP seasons) will allow him to be a table-setter for middle-of-the-order boppers Hu Chin-Lung, Kao Kuo-Hei and the newly acquired Chiang Chih-Hsien.
By far the most valuable of the four acquisitions is Chiang Chih-Hsien. Over his three-year CPBL career the left-handed hitting Chiang has a 1.040 OPS and is launching a home run every 15.02 at-bats. If Chiang can stay in the lineup he could possibly push Wang Po-Jung for MVP in 2018. Finding Chiang a home defensively may be the biggest challenge for the Guardians coaching staff.
Chen Hung-Wen and Lin Yu-Ching will help bolster the Guardians’ bullpen while Chen may be given the chance to earn the closer’s role out of spring training.
Adding Chiang and Chang to the lineup will make huge improvements for a Guardians offense that was sub-par in 2017 thanks to some key injuries. Here is a projected lineup:
- Chang Cheng-Wei (LF) LHH
- Lin Che-Hsuan (CF) RHH
- Chiang Chih-Hsien (3B?) LHH
- Kao Kuo-Hei (RF/DH) RHH
- Lin Yi-Chuen (1B) LHH
- Hu Chin-Lung (DH/OF) RHH
- Kao Kuo-Lin/ Chen Kai-Lun (SS)
- Fang Ke-Wei (C) RHH
- Lin Wei-Ting/Chen Pin-Chieh (2B)
The team strategy may be greatly affected by these additions as the Guardians/Rhinos were not a team to run up the score, but won more close, defensive games on the back of strong pitching and timely hitting. With hitting coach Tommy Cruz in town and a hopefully healthy veteran core, the 2018 Guardians may closer resemble the 2016 Chinatrust Brothers: more runs means more wins.