What a summer it’s been for Kim Ha-Sung (28, San Diego Padres), who has shown signs of fatigue in September, but still has top-level league value. He had a hot summer.
“It’s a really, really long (season),” Kim told the San Diego Union-Tribune on Thursday. I’m grinding,” he said. It is clear that Kim is physically exhausted.
This season, Kim is batting .268 with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs, 80 runs scored, 35 doubles, and an OPS of 0.771 in 141 games played in 15 days. His WAR (wins above replacement) is 5.7, which ranks fifth in the National League, according to Baseball-Reference. Although it’s not quite the same as when he was leading the league, he’s still a top-notch value. Another site, FanGraphs, has him at 4.4, good for 16th in the league.
In September, Kim has played in 11 games and is batting .178 (8-for-45) with six RBIs, six doubles, and a .423 OPS. He has almost as many games with hits (6) as games without hits (5). He hasn’t had a hitless streak longer than three games. The home run machine has been quiet for 20 games since it was activated on May 22 against Miami.
In response, San Diego has given Kim a chance to recharge his batteries by resting him. On March 13, the Padres removed Kim from the starting lineup for the first time in 49 days. This was unusual in that he had rarely been rested in the past, even when he was injured while running the bases or kicking a bucket of water in the dugout.
However, Kim went 0-for-4 with a walk and three strikeouts in his last at-bat on April 14 against the Los Angeles Dodgers. While he’s not as good as a shortstop, he’s still holding down the center field position and batting first in 71 games.
Conversely, the fact that Kim is still at the top of the list despite his September slump is due to the fact that he had a stellar summer. When the season ended on June 19, Kim was hitting .240 with a .694 OPS. Those numbers weren’t too far off from last year (0.251 batting average and 0.708 OPS).
However, after going 3-for-4 in a game against San Francisco on the 20th of the same month, Kim had a hot two months. From that game to August 20, exactly two months later (a doubleheader against Arizona), Kim batted .317 with 11 home runs, 26 RBI, 40 runs scored, 16 doubles, and an OPS of .926 in 53 games (51 starts). During this time, Kim ranked sixth in WAR (Fangraphs), fifth in stolen bases, and 19th in OPS among all major league players.
During his “crazy two months,” Kim’s season stats skyrocketed. His season batting average reached .290 at one point, and his OPS was in the .800s. By mid-August, ESPN had him ranked fifth in the National League MVP race. Only Shin-Soo Choo (2010, 2013) and Ryu Hyun-jin (2019, 2020) have ever been named to the Major League MVP ballot.
Even though his performance has been slipping in the fall, the American public still views him favorably. On Thursday, MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, named Kim the player who has made the biggest improvement for San Diego this season. “Kim has developed into an elite leadoff hitter, batting .358 with 35 stolen bases and ranking second in pitches per at-bat,” the publication said. “Defensively, there is no better player in San Diego. He played primarily at second base, but he also played shortstop and third base to fill in for injuries to his teammates, and he played wherever they needed him.”스포츠토토
Kim himself expressed his satisfaction with the season. “Personally, I think I did a really good job throughout the season,” he said. “If you compare my numbers from last year to this year, I played more, I hit more, I played a lot more, so it’s tough, but I think I did a really good job this year.”
San Diego currently sits in fourth place in the National League West with a 69-78 record and is slipping in the wild-card race. But Kim’s discovery is one of the few bright spots for the Padres this season.