Despite the inconsistent San Diego Padres season. There has been a resurgence of consistent play from an unlikely source. In the midst of the team’s franchise player being suspended for the season, the other shortstop Ha-Seong Kim has been producing at a high level defensively per usual but also offensively.
Not uncommon grounds
Kim produced at a high level in the KBO. But, it wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows.
In his rookie season in the KBO, Kim only slashed .188/.298/.396 with two home runs over 60 games. As an 18-year-old it takes a lot of maturity to bounce back after being completely outclassed.
Bounced back might be a bit of an understatement to what Kim did in year two. A significant increase across the board to .290/.362/.489 with 19 home runs over 140 games. He didn’t stop there as Kim would go on to post 20 home runs in four of the next five seasons in the KBO before coming over to the MLB.
Kim definitely has the work ethic and determination to turn hot streaks into a hot season, and he’s right in the middle of doing that this season in San Diego.
Since June 8th, Kim has been one of the better offensive shortstops across the league. Kim has played in 64 games since slashing .291/.366/.410. That’s almost 100 points higher in each category compared to his rookie year (.202/.270/.352).
Shortstop WAR leaders since July 1st— Leo Luna (@LeoLuna93) August 18, 2022
1. Francisco Lindor NYM (2.7)
2. Corey Seager TEX (2.0)
3. Nico Hoerner CHC (1.6)
t-4. Trea Turner LAD (1.5)
- . - ( . )
t-4. Jorge Mateo BAL (1.5)
t-4. Dansby Swanson ATL (1.5)
That is definitely a good enough sample size to realize this isn’t just a hot streak. 64 games are four more than the infamous 2020 season, so according to Dodger fans, this streak is legit and equivalent to a 162-game streak.
Since said date above Kim is 7th in batting average, 1st in on-base percentage, and 8th in WAR amongst all qualified shortstops in baseball. Using this logic would indicate Kim records more hits than Carlos Correa and Corey Seager, reaches base more than Francisco Lindor and Trea Turner, and is more crucial to team wins than Xander Bogaerts and Bo Bichette.
Just don’t quote me, I’m just detailing what the numbers indicate across the shortstop position since June 8th.
Gold glove bound?
At the moment Cubs Nico Hoerner leads all shortstops in defensive runs saved (13) and defensive WAR (13.9). But, I wouldn’t pencil in Hoerner, anything can happen from now until the season comes to an end.
While Kim isn’t top three in runs saved or defensive WAR, he does have a better fielding percentage than Hoerner. That should count for something right?
Jurickson Profar started the Kim for gold glove train and it is a train everyone in San Diego should join.
In a season that could’ve provided an insane amount of stress trying to fill the void for Tatis. Kim has increased his production and stepped up to the plate. I promise no pun was intended there.
The power numbers haven’t been there during this amazing run but Kim doesn’t need to be a power guy. This lineup features Manny Machado, Juan Soto, Josh Bell, and Brandon Drury. Kim just needs to continue what he is doing and the Padres will be just fine as they make this push towards October baseball.
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