The San Diego Padres signed Jurickson Profar to a three-year deal worth $21 million last offseason so it didn’t make a ton of sense when A.J. Preller went out and brought in another utility bench player in Ha-seong Kim.
Kim came over from the KBO where he hit 133 home runs and had a batting average just under .300. However, it took him some time to adjust to major league velocity. In the first month of the 2021 season, Kim struck out in 28% of his plate appearances while hitting one home run.
It became clear that Kim wasn’t going to provide much power to the Padres lineup and he didn’t see much playing time in the last three months of the season. Kim had 83 plate appearances in May but then didn’t make more than 40 plate appearances in July, August, or September/October.
Kim finished his rookie season with a .202 average, eight home runs, 34 runs batted in, and six stolen bases. His WAR was 2.1, good enough for sixth best on the team. A big reason why his WAR was that high was because of his stellar defense.
The 25-year-old finished tied for seventh in all of baseball in defensive WAR (2.1). That was good enough to finish in front of All-Star third basemen Manny Machado (0.8) and Nolan Arenado (0.9) combined. Here’s a highlight reel featuring some of Kim’s defensive gems he made this season:
Kim, like Profar, brought excitement and enthusiasm to Petco Park in 2021. Some of the loudest crowds at Petco this year were when Kim came up to the plate because the crowd would start chanting “Ha-seong Kim! Ha-seong Kim!”
It’s hard to say that Kim will earn all $28 million of his contract because he just doesn’t provide much offensive run production but he is still a good enough backup to Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop and plays extraordinary defense, so he could be valuable as a defensive replacement late in games in the future.