From ‘Jungle Infield’ survivor to Seoul Series protagonist…Awesome Kim’s baseball is touching

Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres)’s baseball is inspiring. He survived in the San Diego Padres’ “jungle infield” in the Major Leagues, where the best players were lined up, and now he is returning home with gold as the protagonist of the Seoul Series.

Kim Ha-seong tried out for the major leagues through the posting system (closed competitive bidding) before the 2021 season. His contract with San Diego was worth a total of $39 million (approximately 49.3 billion won) over 4+1 years and $28 million (approximately 35.4 billion won) in guaranteed money, excluding options.

In his seven years in the KBO, Kim has developed into one of the league’s best shortstops, batting .294 (3195-for-940) with 133 home runs, 575 RBIs and 134 stolen bases in 891 games, but he’s just getting his feet wet in the big leagues. San Diego, one of the most solid infields in baseball, was expected to be a challenge.

Photo of Kim Ha-seong’s first spring training in the big leagues. ⓒSpotify News DB

Heading into the 2021 season, the Padres had a stellar infield that included Silver Slugger winner first baseman Eric Hosmer, second baseman Jake Cronenweth, who was named the 2020 National League Rookie of the Year, shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and the league’s best third baseman, Manny Machado.

Even though Kim had performed well in the KBO, the gap for a first-year big league rookie to slip through seemed too narrow. As expected, Kim struggled in his first year. His playing time was inconsistent, and he struggled against fastball pitchers.

His opportunity came when the team’s starting shortstop, Tatis Jr. was lost for the season to PEDs and injury. San Diego turned to Kim, who had experience at shortstop, and it paid off. Kim played solid defense in the infield, while also providing solid offense at shortstop, energizing the team’s infield. At the end of the season, he was a finalist for the Gold Glove for shortstop in the National League, proving that he was competitive enough in his first full season in the majors.안전놀이터

Kim Ha-seong (center) is making a name for himself in the big leagues.

Heading into this season, Kim had another crisis on his hands: the team had acquired shortstop extraordinaire Zander Bogaerts. After only one season at shortstop, Kim was moved to second base, but he hasn’t lost any of his baseball acumen. His defense, improving offense, and baserunning make him an indispensable part of the team.

After the first half of the season, Kim ranked fifth in the majors with a WAR (wins above replacement) of 4.1, according to Baseball Reference. His dWAR (defensive wins above replacement) of 2.1 is first in the National League. Although he didn’t boast the same offensive prowess as his teammates, it was a moment when his hard work paid off as he quietly did his part to energize the team.

Major League Baseball and the players’ union officially announce the 2024 Seoul Series ⓒMajor League Baseball official SNS

After the first half, Kim received another piece of good news. The Major League Baseball Seoul Series would be held. The Los Angeles Dodgers, a National League West rival to San Diego, will play the opening game of the 2024 Major League Baseball season in Seoul, and Kim has been featured on the official poster released by the Major League Baseball office and on the team’s social media pages.

“I can’t tell you how excited and happy I am to be playing in Korea in a San Diego uniform,” Kim said on the team’s social media, “and to be able to invite my teammates, staff, and coaches to Korea and experience this great opportunity together is so special and will be a great memory.”

Kim has made a name for himself in the Major League Baseball, where the best players are gathered. He survived the jungle infield to become a mainstay of the team and the hero of the Seoul Series. Kim’s baseball story is inspiring enough.

Meanwhile, Kim starts the second half of the race on the 15th against the Philadelphia Phillies. It will be interesting to see if Kim’s stellar first half can carry over into the second half.

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