The San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim, 28, is enjoying a successful third year in the ML with some of his best performances to date. His hitting has exploded, including his first grand slam, and he’s now in the MVP conversation.
In the Gold Glove race at second base, however, it’s the other way around. Before the All-Star break, he had a commanding lead over the competition. It was at a point where fans were convinced that they had “already written ‘Kim Ha-Ha’ (on the list of winners).”
But lately, things have been looking up. Of course, the “most likely candidate” status hasn’t changed. But a new contender has emerged and is quickly closing the gap. Enter the dark horse.
According to data released last week by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), Kim led the National League second basemen with an SDI of 8.3. The SABR Defensive Index (SDI) is a metric used to determine Gold Glove winners. It’s compiled once a month, and Kim has held onto the top spot since the start of the season. He led second-place Tyro Estrada (SF Giants) by nearly three points.
But things changed in the August tally. First, the face of the competition changed. Estrada (4.8 SDI) dropped to fifth place. Instead, new chasers emerged. The Phillies’ Bryson Stott (6.4), Cubs’ Nico Horner (5.7), and Brewers’ Bryce Turan (5.7) moved up.
Of these, Stott’s run at second is the one to watch. He’s only 1.9 SDI away from first place. It’s the closest they’ve been this year.
More importantly, there’s a strange trend. For starters, Kim is flat. It was only up 0.3 from July (8.0). Previously, it was rising around 2.0 per month. Stott, on the other hand, is on a scary upswing. Until June, it was in 6th place at 1.3. Then it jumped from 4.0 in July to 6.4 in August. Suddenly, he’s a threat.
He joined the Phillies with the first pick of the 2019 draft (14th overall), and shortstop is his natural position. He was upgraded to second base this year with the addition of Trey Turner. He set a franchise record with a hitting streak of 17 games to open the season. His agile, steady defense has made him a favorite among Phillies fans to succeed Chase Utley.
The ML Gold Glove award is based on defense. The voting panel is made up of 30 managers and coaches (up to six per team) who cannot vote for their own players. There’s a mechanism in place to prevent name recognition. Since 2013, SDIs have been aggregated to increase objectivity. The winners are determined by a scoring system that includes 75% of the votes and 25% of the SDI.
In addition, voters are provided with SDI data on a monthly basis. So it’s safe to say that the numbers have a direct or indirect impact on the awards. Last year, the Gold Gloves for pitchers in the AL and pitchers, third basemen, and shortstops in the NL coincided with the top SDI rankings. That’s 14 out of 18, a 77.8% match rate.
As you can see, there’s no question that Kim is a strong candidate. However, there are concerns that a new contender has emerged and, given the trend, may pose a different threat than before. Furthermore, the performance of his team could also influence voters’ judgment. The Phillies are in the lead for the wild card and are favored to advance to the PS.
Of course, Kim’s value has risen significantly in the last two to three months. His defense, fielding, and hitting have been on point. It’s nice to see his name being mentioned in the MVP conversation, which is much higher than the Gold Glove.
But it’s a title he can’t give up. No Asian infielder has ever won the award. For the first time ever, an all-American honor is at stake. In fact, an MVP nomination is nice to hear, but unlikely. The Gold Glove, on the other hand, is like cash. It’s real, it’s tangible, it’s a career.토토사이트
Best of all, it’s a race that has been a favorite all season. You can’t afford to allow a late-game upset. It’s time for a meticulous, careful finish.