Lee Seung-yeop also Lee Seung-yuop (born August 18, 1976 in Daegu, South Korea) is a baseball player, currently playing for the Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization. Nicknamed "Lion King" since his days with the Samsung Lions, while being affectionately known as "Mr. Seung" during his playing days with the Chiba Lotte Marines, Lee is arguably the greatest hitter in Korean baseball history. At the age of 26, he became the youngest professional baseball player in the world to hit 300 home runs. He formerly held the Asian home run record of 56 homers in a season, established in 2003 while playing for the Samsung Lions in the Korean league. The record was broken by Wladimir Balentein of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, on September 15, 2013, when he hit his 56th and 57th Home Runs of the season against the Hanshin Tigers of the Nippon Professional Baseball League.
He had a slow start in Japan. Lee hit just 14 home runs and drove in 50 runs while batting .240 in 100 games. In the next season, he greatly improved, making 30 home runs and 82 RBI while batting .260 in 117 games.
He was selected to play for the Korea national baseball team in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006. He batted .333 and led all players in the tournament with 5 home runs and 10 RBI. This has increased speculation that an MLB team might eventually sign him. However, Lee was under contract to play with the Yomiuri Giants for the 2006 season. On 1 August 2006, Lee became only the third professional baseball player ever to hit 400-career home runs before the age of 30 (others include Sadaharu Oh and Alex Rodriguez). In the 2006 season, he batted .323 with 41 homers.
On August 3, 2006, a report on MLB Radio on XMsatellite radio stated that the New York Yankees and Lee had agreed to start negotiations during the offseason after the 2006 regular season. The South Korean daily, ChosunIlbo, had reported on July 19 that the Yankees had expressed interest in the slugger.
After the conclusion of the 2006 season, Lee re-signed with the Yomiuri Giants, citing that he wishes to win a Japan Series with the team. However, there is also a clause which allows Lee to be a free agent if the Giants win the series.
As of February 2008, Lee still has not made an effort to play in the Major Leagues. He may have lost his best chance to play in MLB in 2004 when he demanded the LA Dodgers include verbiage in any contract they offered guaranteeing him a starting position, something no MLB player has ever had written into a contract.
After being released by the Giants at the end of the 2010 season, Lee joined the Orix Buffaloes of the Japan's Pacific League in December 2010.
On 5 December 2011, Lee rejoined his former team Samsung Lions signing a one-year deal.
Lee is 6'0" tall and his playing weight is listed at 187 pounds (85 kg).
Lee played for the South Korean national team in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Slowed down by an injury to his left thumb, Lee struggled in the preliminary rounds, limited to 3-for-22 (.136) with two runs batted in and no home runs, before coming alive in the medal round games against Japan and Cuba.
In the semifinal game against Team Japan, Lee hit a dramatic go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning off reliever Hitoki Iwase, which proved to be the winning runs in Korea's 6-2 win.
In the gold medal game against Cuba, Lee hit a two-run home run in the first inning off Cuban starter Norberto González to help Korea defeat Cuba and win the gold medal.