Ha-Sung Kim, 28, of the San Diego Padres, modeled what a leadoff hitter should look like despite a no-hitter.
Kim went 1-for-3 with a walk, two strikeouts and a stolen base in the leadoff spot against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, on Saturday (July 26).
On the season, his batting average dropped slightly from .280 to .278, but his on-base percentage rose from .368 to .369. His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is 0.814.
San Diego’s lineup for the game was Ha-Sung Kim (second base), Fernando Tatis Jr. (right field), Juan Soto (left field), Manny Machado (third base), Zander Bogaerts (shortstop), Jake Cronenweth (first base), Gary Sanchez (catcher), Garrett Cooper (designated hitter), and Trent Grisham (center field). The starting pitcher is Japanese right-hander Darvish Yu.
Milwaukee’s starting lineup is Christian Yelich (left field)-William Contreras (catcher)-Carlos Santana (first base)-Willy Adames (shortstop)-Raudy Telles (designated hitter)-Mark Canha (right field)-Andrew Monasterio (third base)-Bryce Turang (second base)-Tyon Taylor (center field). Brandon Woodruff started on the mound.
The bats were silent, but the top of the order’s run-scoring instincts and footwork shone through.
In the top of the first inning, Kim stared down a 95-mile-per-hour (152.8-kilometer) fastball from Woodruff, only to see it retire on a grounder to second base.
But as the leadoff hitter, he did what he was supposed to do: get on base. Stepping to the plate with the bases loaded in the third inning, Kim easily picked off pitches well outside the first, second, and third pitches, then watched a four-seam fastball through the fourth pitch zone and fouled off a high five-pitch offering.
Milwaukee easily plated two runs on three hits and a hit-by-pitch and quickly took a 5-0 lead on Telleth’s three-run homer. San Diego rallied in the fourth with a solo shot by Machado (his 25th of the season), but that was it.
Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the fifth, Kim watched pitches one and two for strikes before cutting a 96.4-mile-per-hour (155.1 km/h) four-seam fastball, a four-seam 87.3-mile-per-hour (140.5 km/h) changeup, and then a five- and six-pitch outside pitch. Full count. After fouling off a seven-pitch slider again, Kim hung on to his bat on an eight-pitch high fastball to complete the double play.
Kim then stole second base. With Tatis Jr. at the plate and a 0-1 count, Kim stole second. Contreras’ throw from the opposite field sailed wide and into center field, perhaps because of Kim’s quick feet. Kim’s 29th stolen base. He was one away from his 30th stolen base. Kim stole third on a wild pitch to keep his scoring chances alive. Tatis Jr. struck out swinging to end the inning.
In the seventh inning, Tatis Jr. had runners on first and third with nobody out, but he was completely dominated by hard-hitting right-hander Abner Yuribe. He watched a 90.2-mph (145.2-kilometer) slider for the first pitch, fouled off a 99.9-mph (160.8-kilometer) sinker for the second, and then got stuck on a 91-mph (146.6-kilometer) slider for the third.
Milwaukee added two more runs in the seventh on three hits. San Diego rallied in the ninth. Trailing 7-1 in the top of the ninth, Cronenwirth singled and Sanchez homered to cut the deficit to 7-3.
Kim had another chance. Stepping up to the plate with two outs, Kim fouled off a sinker and swung at a low slider to get into a bad count. Seeing a three-pitch high fastball, he took a four-pitch slider well down in the zone, but the ball sailed into the third baseman’s glove, ending the game with a 3-7 loss.
“I can’t overstate the importance of Ha-Sung Kim,” says Kim, 0.313-OPS 0.912 in second half
Despite the disappointment of the team’s loss, Kim’s value this season is being reevaluated by the day. “Kim’s importance to the San Diego roster can’t be overstated,” the U.S. media outlet Inside the Padres wrote on Friday.
In his third year in the big leagues, Kim’s presence has never been the same. In his previous two seasons, Kim was considered an Altoran-like player. His ability to play multiple positions in the infield gave manager Bob Melvin a lot of flexibility.
On the other hand, his weakness was hitting. He was weak against fastballs, batting .202 and .251 in his two seasons. Last year, he hit double-digit home runs (11), but still seemed to have more to work on.
But this season has been a different story, especially in the second half. It’s why he’s one of the favorites to win the National League (NL) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. In 85 games in the first half, he hit .258 with 10 home runs and an OPS of .760. That’s a lot to applaud from a Gold Glove-caliber infielder with a Gold Glove-caliber defense, but his second half has been nothing like that.
In 39 games in the second half, he’s batting .313 with seven home runs and a .912 OPS. Making the switch to the leadoff spot has been a “godsend. Since making the switch to the leadoff spot in July, he has excelled at the top of the order, batting .294 with an OPS of .890.
Kim’s value can also be seen through metrics. According to Baseball Reference, his 6.2 wins above replacement (bWAR) ranks first on the team and fourth in the entire big leagues.
If you limit it to players who also play defense, he’s third, and his defensive bWAR of 2.2 is second. On offense alone, he’s ninth overall at 4.4. In particular, his DRS (Defensive Runs Saved, a measure of how many runs a defender prevents) is +12 in 667⅔ innings at second base, which is first in the NL and third in the big leagues.
He’s a great hitter, but when the bat isn’t clicking, as it was on this day, he leads the team with his footwork, which is fueled by his instinct for the outfield. He is on pace to become the first Asian infielder to reach the 20-homer, 20-stolen base mark, surpassing Shin-Soo Choo’s record for the most stolen bases by a Korean, and is just one away from 30. His versatility shines through as he ranks fifth in the NL in that category as well.
His sacrifice for the team also shines through. In early August, he was named San Diego’s representative for this year’s Heart & Hustle Award. “Sometimes our team can get down,” Melvin said, “but Kim never does. He brings a lot of energy,” Melvin said. It’s no wonder San Diego fans love Awesome Kim.
“Even in the darkest moments of the season, Kim has been San Diego’s hope,” said Inside the Padres, “His growth has certainly been impressive and has helped keep the Padres in playoff contention. “His growth has certainly been impressive, and he has helped San Diego stay in the playoff race.먹튀검증
San Diego still has 33 games left to play. It’s hard to look away from Kim’s stellar record.
With the loss, the Padres have 61 wins and 68 losses. Fourth place in the NL West. They are 6.5 games behind the third-place Chicago Cubs in the wild-card race, keeping their fall baseball hopes alive. Milwaukee rode a six-game winning streak to 71-57 and first place in the NL Central.