“Right now, I’m Kim Ha-seong, the KBO’s Kim Ha-seong who fell in love with hitting.” Awesome Kim without satisfaction… I can’t help but love him for this.

You can’t help but love him. A local media outlet in San Diego has told Kim Ha-seong, 28, that he is being paid enough despite being the team’s top contributor.

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported on March 3 (KST), “Kim stole his 10th base of the season yesterday (Feb. 2). That’s first on the team. He also has the most DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) among major league infielders with a +12 rating,” highlighting his recent success.

Kim’s recent performance has been all-around, as he’s not only excelled in defense and at the plate, but also on offense. After two days of play, he is batting .241 with a .337 on-base percentage and .380 slugging percentage, but over his last 29 games, he is batting .278 with a .385 on-base percentage and .422 slugging percentage. He told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “Right now, I’m the Kim Ha-seong of the KBO without the long ball,” he smiled.

Certainly, the Kim Ha-seong of the major leagues is a different player than the one KBO fans remember. After making his debut with the Nexen Heroes (now the Kiwoom Heroes) in 2014, Kim was a power-hitting shortstop who batted .294 with 133 home runs, 575 RBIs, 134 doubles, and an OPS of 0.866 in 891 career games. He hit double-digit home runs every year for six straight years except his rookie season, and in his final season, 2020, he epitomized the hot-hitting phenom with 30 home runs and 23 doubles.

After reaching the majors in 2021, his appeal as a big hitter faded. In 319 games over three seasons, he batted .236 with 24 home runs, 111 RBIs, and 28 stolen bases, with only the occasional big hit. Instead, his defense, which had been overshadowed by his offense in the KBO, has come to the forefront. Last year, as a starting shortstop, he became the first Asian infielder to make the top three Gold Glove finalists. This year, he’s at the top of every defensive metric and is on track to win the Gold Glove for second baseman in the National League.

On a positive note, he’s also shown improvement in his long ball, something he’s been struggling with. Historically, Kim has shown a weakness against fastballs over 95 miles per hour. To compensate, he worked with a personal trainer last winter to improve his swing form, and he’s on track.

Last year, his first full-time season, Kim had a 22.9 percent fly ball rate and 1.9 percent home run rate per at-bat, but this year those numbers have risen slightly to 28.5 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. The previous day (Feb. 2) against Miami, he hit a huge two-run shot that just missed the left field fence by a few centimeters, so he is getting used to producing long balls. After the game, Kim said, “I want to have better long balls, and that’s why I work hard every day to become a better player than I am now.”메이저놀이터

Aside from his own satisfaction, Kim’s fans in the U.S. are already pleased with his performance. The San Diego Union-Tribune gave him a passing grade, saying, “Kim seems to have settled into the big leagues as well as San Diego hoped when it signed him for four years and $28 million (about KRW 366 million) in 2021.”

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