This season, Ha-Sung Kim (28, San Diego Padres) is proving his undervalued status in a big way. Not only has he proven to be a solid defender, but he’s also shown off his power and baserunning tools, opening the door for a big, long-term contract.
Kim started at first base and went 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, a walk, two RBIs, two runs scored, and three stolen bases in the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas, on Sept. 9.
In just four days, Kim restarted the hit factory, raising his season batting average from .271 to .273, and showed off his quick feet by stealing three bases. Now, 20 home runs and 40 doubles are within reach.
News1Still undervalued, defense, shoulder, long ball, and base running tools… The ‘five-tool player’ who can do it all
In the second inning, with his team leading 2-1 and runners on second and third, he lined a double to right field to load the bases after a seven-pitch battle with opposing starter Hunter Braun. After leading off the inning with a walk, Kim stole his 32nd base of the season. He complained of pain in his abdomen while sliding, but fearlessly ran and ran and ran.
In the top of the seventh inning, Kim made a timely, technical hit to left field, getting one hand on a wild changeup from Jose Urquidi. Despite showing pain earlier in the inning, Kim’s baserunning instincts were unstoppable, and his bold start led to his second stolen base of the day, followed by a double steal with Juan Soto, who walked. The steal was so perfect that opposing catcher Martin Maldonado had to give up the throw.
The three stolen bases in one game are the most by a Korean major leaguer in history. The previous record was set by Bae Ji-hwan (Pittsburgh) on April 27, and Kim tied it on April 10 against Seattle. This time, he became the third Korean to do so.카지노사이트
No shortage of talent. Even the hitting, which has been criticized as a weakness, has shown remarkable growth this season. In particular, he has benefited from the revised rules this season and has become one of the big bats in the big leagues. With his three stolen bases today, he has 34, which ranks eighth in the big leagues and fifth in the National League (NL). He’s also second on the team in runs scored (79).
His power tools have also improved significantly. With 17 home runs and a .422 on-base percentage, Kim is fourth on the team in that category with 57 RBIs, tied for fifth in home runs, and fourth in on-base percentage while batting leadoff.
No infielder in Asian history has ever gone 20-20, and Kim is on pace to go 20-30 and possibly 20-40. These are very doable numbers. Even across positions, only Shohei Ohtani (LAA) and Shin-soo Choo (SSG Rangers) have accomplished the feat, which is highly symbolic as they also never reached 20-30.
Kim Ha-seong (center) high-fives his teammates after winning Game 9. /Photo=San Diego Padres Official Social Media
Ha-Sung Kim (right) high-fives his teammates after scoring a run. /Photo=San Diego Padres Official Social Media
‘100 billion contract’ Ryu Hyun-jin becomes the second KBO player to sign a long-term contract
The day before, the American media outlet ESPN said, “He has fantastic value. Even if you include both outfielders and pitchers, he could finish the season as one of the top 20 options.” On the same day, Kim Ha-seong was once again highlighted by the same media outlet.
The same day, ESPN published an article titled “Which teams have the most talented players tied up, ranking the 30 MLB teams with the most core power. San Diego was ranked 11th on the list, and Kim’s name was not among them.
The Padres have spent a lot of money recently, locking up Fernando Tatis Jr, Zander Bogaerts, Manny Machado, and Darvish Yu. Two days were filled with elite or above-average players.
Unlike them, Kim was categorized as a “talent locked in”. He’s already under contract through 2025 and is grouped with Soto on the same basis. They are eligible for free agency after next season. Kim’s contract has a mutual option clause for 2025, but with his skyrocketing value, it’s unlikely he’ll opt in.
Kim Ha-sung. /AFPBBNews=News1
The outlet added, “Soto and Kim, who led the team in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) this year, cannot be discussed in this topic. Both are free agents after next season.” “Of course, re-signing Kim would be a great bet.”
The nuance is that signing him to a long-term deal could help the team. San Diego is likely to want to hold onto Kim more than anyone. He’s rebounded this season to become a force to be reckoned with, and his value is far superior to the competition at the position.
Among NL second basemen, Kim is above average in hitting ability. He ranked first in walks, second in stolen bases, second in slugging percentage, fourth in home runs, fifth in OPS, and sixth in batting average among his league peers. His WAR of 4.4, the most intuitive measure of a player’s value, is third in the big leagues, behind only Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers-7.9) and Markus Semien (Texas Rangers-5.1).
Following Ryu Hyun-jin, who signed a massive four-year, $80 million (KRW10.69 billion) contract with Toronto, Kim has established himself as the second KBO player to earn a superstar contract. It is increasingly likely that he will receive a long-term contract offer from San Diego, which is looking to lock up the team’s treasure this season before or after next year’s free agency.