Before the start of this season, it was hard to predict how well Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) would perform. Fans in Korea were encouraged by his stellar defense at the start of the season. But now, he’s emerging as one of the best players in Major League Baseball (MLB).
On July 7 (KST), Kim started at first base and third base in the 2023 MLB home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park in San Diego, California, and went 1-for-3 with one hit, one walk, and one strikeout.
The team went 2-8, but Kim’s season batting average increased slightly from .286 to .287 (102 hits in 356 at-bats). His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) was 0.839.
Kim’s value to the nation, Ichiro Ichiro’s ‘2nd in bWAR’ record in sight
San Diego’s game was broadcast nationally on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball. It was a chance for Kim to showcase his value to the nation.
Kim led off the bottom of the first inning with his team trailing 0-2 and grounded out to third base against starter Lance Lynn.
In the bottom of the third inning, after Gary Sanchez scored a run on a solo shot, Kim came up to bat again with two outs and one on, but walked on a full count. In the bottom of the fifth inning with the bases loaded and the score at 1-6, Kim, who had reached base in 29 consecutive games, lined a low curveball with his trademark skill on an 0-2 pitch, and the ball went between the shortstop and third baseman for a single to left field.
Kim extended his hitting streak to 12 games and his multi-hit streak to 14 games.
He surpassed Manny Machado’s 13-game multi-hit streak in 2019. It is the second-longest streak in San Diego franchise history. He will challenge Steve Finley’s record of 18 games in 1996.
He is also just one step away from the Asian record of 15 games set by Ichiro Suzuki in 2007. Kim can match Ichiro’s record with a multi-strikeout game on Aug. 8 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ichiro is such a legend that he won the Rookie of the Year and American League (AL) Most Valuable Player awards in his first year in the MLB with 242 hits, had 10 straight 200-hit seasons, set the single-season record for most hits in a season with 262 in 2004, amassed 3089 career hits, and was inducted into the Seattle Hall of Fame last year. These are just a few of the records, but just being in the same league as Ichiro is enough to make him even more valuable.
Praise, praise, praise, “Kim Ha-seong is an NL gem” Awesome Kim’s value reemerges
Values are skyrocketing. He ranks first in batting average (0.287), second in slugging percentage (0.384), fourth in on-base percentage (0.455), and second in OPS (0.839) among hitters with regular plate appearances on the team. Since taking over the leadoff spot in July, he’s been able to quickly rack up the runs. He has 61 runs scored, trailing only Juan Soto (65). He has the most stolen bases with 24.
He is challenging Shin-Soo Choo for 20 (home runs)-20 (stolen bases). No other Asian infielder has achieved 20-20. Kim will attempt to match Ichiro’s streak of consecutive multi-hit games, another Asian first.
In a piece titled “Surprising Hitters in 2023,” USA Today highlighted the likes of Jonah Heim (Texas Rangers) and Trey Turner (Philadelphia Phillies) alongside Kim.
“I noticed how much the San Diego fans loved him in the postseason last year. “Aside from his A-grade defense and on-base percentage, his other numbers were spot on. This season, he’s really stepped up his game. With C+ power and B+ speed, his .284 batting average (now .287) should be high. As long as he has a price tag, he’s a National League gem. His value hasn’t gone up too much.”
“If Kim’s all-blue statcast entries make you skeptical, don’t be,” he said. “He doesn’t have a great relative ranking, but he can definitely hit the ball hard. He has 56 doubles, five triples, and 34 home runs in the majors. He’s not even close to hitters who hit harder pitches.”
The praise continued. “His low rate only proves that he’s not going to be Jordan Alvarez (Houston Astros),” the outlet wrote, “The main reason for that rate is that he’s putting balls in play that other hitters have swung and missed. If he learned to utilize the opposite field a little more, .284 would not be a high number at all.”메이저사이트
Kim’s versatility was also noted. “In addition, his O-zone swing rate is excellent at 21%,” the outlet wrote, “He sees 4.37 pitches per at-bat, which puts him at the top of the starting lineup,” arguing that he deserves to bat first.