Ha-seong Kim (27, San Diego Padres) was silent after 17 games. The Korean big leaguer’s consecutive hits record also failed. In the last 16 games, Kim Ha-seong shone more than anyone else.
Ha-seong Kim started as the first 안전놀이터 batter and second baseman in the 2023 MLB away game against the Arizona Diamondbacks held at Phoenix Chase Field in Arizona, USA on the 13th (Korean time), but recorded no hits in 4 at bats. A break was put on the 16-game hitting streak that started against the Pittsburgh Pirates on the 25th of last month. The previous Korean big leaguer hit streak record was 16 games achieved by Choo Shin-soo (now SSG Landers) in July 2013 when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Kim Ha-seong recorded a multi-hit in Arizona on the 12th, standing shoulder to shoulder with Choo Shin-soo, but failed to achieve a new record. His batting average of 0.290 dropped to 0.286.
The streak of hits has stopped, but Kim Ha-seong’s summer performance brought catharsis to domestic baseball fans. It shone more than the San Diego Beast, which is lined with star players who earn more than $20 million a year. His originally recognized defense and attack power rose, showing unrivaled team contributions. His contribution to victory (WAR) compared to substitute players was comparable to league representative players such as Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves).
In no time, he rose from the bottom line to the leadoff. He not only produced hits, but also proved his pioneering plan, and even achieved multiple on-base in 15 consecutive games. It tied the record set by Ichiro Suzuki, a Japanese batter who is considered a legend in MLB. On the 9th, when this record stopped, he added one hit against the Seattle Mariners.
His batting average in the 16 games that continued his hitting streak was 0.414 (24 hits in 58 at-bats). If it wasn’t for the record spanning July and August, he would have been able to aim for the Monthly Most Valuable Player (MVP).
As much as the number of bases increased, he showed his quick feet without regret. Starting with the game against Pittsburgh on the 26th, he steadily added stolen bases. He did not steal bases for 4 games after the match against the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 5th, but in the match against Seattle on the 10th, he did ‘one game 3 steals’. He totaled 9 stolen bases in 16 games. As of his 13th, he has 27 stolen bases and is close to stealing 30 bases.
During this period, he also added 3 home runs and marked 15 in the season, and also approached joining the 20 home run-20 steal club three years after his big league debut. At the current batting pace, I think I can do it well enough for the rest of the regular season.
Ha-seong Kim failed to leave any hits or walks against Arizona on the 13th. The game in which he did not even get on base was the first time in 20 games since the game against the Toronto Blue Jays on the 21st, when he played as a substitute and had no hits in one at-bat.
The rising trend has slowed down for a while, but the silence against Arizona on the 13th seems to be comforting because it was a game where Kim Ha-seong could confirm his ‘clear eyes’. He dealt with Arizona ace Jack Gallen in his first at-bat in the first inning and held back his swing on the 6th pitch (based on a right-handed hitter) four-seam fastball that came in from a ball count of 2 balls-2 strikes. It was not a ball that crossed the border line, but a ball outside the strike zone (S zone). The referee’s decision was wrong. Even if he struck out, it was more meaningful to endure this ball.
The support of local fans for Ha-seong Kim is giving pride to domestic baseball fans. Last season, he mainly came out of the hobi scene, but this season, the airflow that reflected that anticipation is transmitted even at the plate. Kim Ha-sung’s summer is still hot.