Eleven games into the season, the Uni-President Lions have clearly established themselves as the team to beat with a league-best 8-3 record (through Wednesday) thanks to the red-hot hitting trio of Chang “OEO” Tai-shan, Mike Cervenak and Chen Yung-chi.
The big three bashing brothers for the Cats may not have the batting averages to place them among the top five in the league, but when it comes to total run production they are among the top five, with a combined RBI total of 31, giving the top-ranked Lions nearly three runs per contest.
“With that kind of run support, it’s pretty hard to lose,” baseball commentator Chung Chung-tsai said last week.
The Lions not only have the best team batting average in the league at .327, but also the highest runs scored per game at 6.18, more than a run per game higher than the Lamigo Monkeys’ 5.00 runs per game for second-best.
With Chang having chosen to close out his career in a Lions uniform at the start of the 2011 season, rather than accepting an offer from his former club (formerly known as the Sinon Bulls and now the EDA Rhinos) as their fulltime hitting coach, the veteran longball threat has rediscovered his hitting groove in a new role as the Lions’ designated hitter by belting a home run, two doubles and a rare triple so far to drive in a league-best 13 runs.
With Chang providing plenty of protection from his cleanup spot, newly acquired Mike Cervenak of the US has flourished at the plate for the Cats with a .310 batting average, two homers and nine RBIs in 11 games.
Rounding out the bashing trio for the Lions is Chen, who is also finding success in his new role as the leadoff man after spending the past two seasons further down the batting order. The former minor leaguer with the Seattle Mariners and the Oakland Athletics is tied with two other players for No. 3 in the league in total RBIs at nine to go along with his .364 average and 24 total bases.
The Lions also have the league’s top hitter, Kao Chih-kang, with a formidable .417 average, not to mention the expected return of two-time batting champ Pan “TAKE” Wu-hsiung, who is out with an injury and whose return will only make the Lions even tougher to face.