“Kim Ha-seong, elite leadoff, no better defender…” Endless praise, also the highest paid second baseman at 517 billion won

“Defensively, there’s no one better.”

Ha-Sung Kim (San Diego Padres) has definitely cooled off in September. In 11 games, he’s 8-for-45 with a .178 batting average, six RBIs, four runs scored, and a .423 OPS. His batting average, which was nearly 2.9, dropped to .268 after the Los Angeles Dodgers game on Thursday. His OPS dropped 0.8 to 0.771.

His WAR, per Baseball-Reference, rose to second in the majors behind Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels). However, his batting average slowed to a crawl in late August, and his defense didn’t produce as many highlight reels. He’s been racking up stolen bases at a good clip, but that’s not enough to keep his WAR from dropping. As of the 14th, it’s down to 5.7, which is 10th in the majors. He’s gone from the top 10 in individual offense.

But when MLB.com recognized players from each of its 30 clubs who have taken a step forward in their game this season, San Diego didn’t hesitate to name Kim. “Who knew he’d be fifth in the National League in WAR. He’s one of the few bright spots on a team that has underperformed this season.”

According to Baseball-Reference, the top five players in the National League in WAR are Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers, 8.1), Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves, 7.6), Matt Olson (Atlanta, 6.4), Freddie Freeman (LA Dodgers, 6.2), and Ha-Sung Kim. The first four are all in the National League MVP race.

According to MLB.com, “Kim has developed into an elite leadoff hitter with 35 stolen bases and a .358 on-base percentage, ranking second in pitches per at-bat. Defensively, I don’t believe there is a better player (defender) in San Diego. He’s played primarily at second base this season, which is where the team needs him, but he’s also seen short stints at third base while teammates have been injured.”스포츠토토

Kim is in the third season of a 4+1 year, $39 million contract. After the 2024 season, he will decide whether to exercise his $8 million club option for 2025. At this point, it seems likely that he will remain a free agent, but there are many variables. This season, he’s clearly established himself as one of the best second basemen in the majors.

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