Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego) has been a bright spot in San Diego’s otherwise dismal early season campaign. He’s been scratching the team’s itch at every position in the infield.
It’s not just his defense, which is now recognized as one of the best in the majors. He added another stolen base against Miami on Sunday, extending his stolen base streak to four games, while also reaching double-digit stolen bases for the season. After stealing six bases in 117 games in 2021 and 12 in 150 games last year, this is his 10th stolen base in 52 games this year. He’s proving to be a player who fits into the major league’s recent trend of running the bases.
His hitting continues to improve as well. In 25 games in April, he had a .177 batting average and a .556 on-base percentage (OPS). There was some concern that his numbers were worse than last year, but in May, he batted .276 with a .374 on-base percentage and .808 OPS in 24 games. He’s given San Diego the tenacity and power they’ve been lacking, and he’s even led off the last two games.
The local media has been full of praise. The word “Awesome” has already been reserved for Kim, at least in San Diego. The San Diego Union-Tribune, the largest local publication, reported on March 3 (KST), “Kim stole a team-high 10 bases yesterday (March 2). He also leads all major league infielders with 12 DRS (defensive runs saved).
The San Diego Union-Tribune also wrote, “After seven seasons in the KBO, Kim appears to be fulfilling the expectations the Padres had when they signed him to a four-year, $28 million deal in 2021.” The outfielder’s numbers are already among the best in the majors. However, there is one thing that Kim is missing. That’s his thirst for the long ball.
While he didn’t have the image of a giant in the KBO, he still hit a lot of home runs. After hitting 19 home runs in 2015, he recorded his first 20-homer season in 2016, and even hit 30 in 2020, just before he made it to the major leagues. With six consecutive years of 19 or more home runs from 2015 to 2020, Kim hit 133 arches in 891 career KBO games.
Of course, no one expected those numbers to translate to the major leagues. But for a guy who knows the taste of a home run, it’s understandable that he’d want to hit it a little farther. Last year, he hit 11 home runs in 150 games and 582 at-bats.
“I’m Korean Kim without the power,” he told the San Diego Union-Post. The joke was meant to be a bit of a wistful one, as he hasn’t hit as hard as he did when he was playing in South Korea. The San Diego Union-Post also analyzed Kim’s home runs in the majors, saying, “He hit one every 24 at-bats in the KBO, but he’s averaging one every 40 at-bats here.” Kim’s home runs have diminished somewhat in the majors.
Against Miami on the 2nd, he missed his 6th home run of the season by a foot or two in his second at-bat of the 4th inning. A well-hit pitch bounced off the top of the left field fence. “I want to have more power,” Kim said confidently, “and that’s why I train hard every day to become a better player than I am now.”
After two years in the major leagues, Kim has adjusted to the big league ball. In terms of OPS alone, he’s seen a slight uptick from 0.622 in 2021 and 0.708 in 2022 to 0.717 this year. Now, if he can add a few more long balls to that pace, he could completely change his perception of himself.토토사이트
The signs are there. Kim went from hitting one home run every 47 at-bats last year to hitting one every 33.2 at-bats as of Day 2. His stolen base rate is better than last year, as well as his home run rate. If he can build on this a bit more and settle into a number between 15 and 20 homers, his free agent price tag after the 2024 season could be far beyond what we can imagine right now.