In his rookie season in 2021, Ha-Sung Kim (28, San Diego) exceeded expectations with his defense and positional versatility. “There were some who said it was a redundant investment, but Kim’s 117 games at various positions proved that San Diego had a plan.바카라
However, the offense wasn’t quite as exciting. While he was a top-notch offensive player in the KBO, the big leagues were a different story. It’s not easy to be a backup in an unfamiliar ballpark against pitchers you’ve never seen before. In several interviews after the 2021 season, Kim admitted that he “needed some time to adjust.”
In 2021, Kim batted .202 with a .270 on-base percentage, eight home runs, and 34 RBIs. His adjusted wRC+, as calculated by the statistical site FanGraphs, was just 70. This was well below the league average. It was also pointed out that handling fastballs was a problem.
In the KBO, no matter how fast a player throws a fastball, it is in the low 150 kilometers per hour. However, in the major leagues, fastballs reach the mid-to-late 150s, so it was not easy for Kim to adapt in a short period of time. Perhaps San Diego expected this.
In fact, Kim’s batting average against fastballs was underwhelming. In 2021, he batted .235 against pitches over 95 mph (about 152.9 kilometers). In 2022, he was just 12-for-79 with a .152 batting average. Despite his offensive output last year, it was his ability to handle the fastball that ultimately prevented him from breaking any barriers.
This year, however, things are a little different. Kim has seen his batting average on pitches over 95 mph rise significantly this year to .314. That ranks first on the team. He’s also hitting pitches over 97 mph (about 156 kilometers). It’s still a small sample size, but his 5-for-12 (.417) showing that he’s no longer vulnerable to fastballs.
Kim made the most of a fastball against the Washington Nationals at Petco Park on Saturday (July 26). In the seventh inning, with his team trailing 1-8, he saw a 97 mph fastball from Jordan Weems up the middle and lined it over the left field fence for a solo home run. It was his eighth home run of the season. It was a shot that would have gone over all 30 major league ballparks.
The home run caught the attention of the local broadcasters. Mark Grant, the San Diego play-by-play announcer, emphasized the change in Kim’s velocity, referring directly to his fastball. “He’s attacking the fastball. It wasn’t low 90s, it wasn’t 91, it wasn’t 92, it was 97,” Grant said, then added, “He was centered and he hit it. Look at this swing. He showed good extension and made a barrel hit.”
At the end of the day, it comes down to a fastball or a changeup. We’re in the age of the changeup, but in the end, the fastball is half the battle. If you don’t have a fastball, you’ll never make it in the majors. Kim’s improved offensive production has been linked to his fastball.
In 2021, Kim’s BABIP against fastballs was .369; in 2022, it jumped to .396, and this year, it’s slightly higher at .397. Breaking balls like sliders were a major weakness last year, but not this year. His batting average against breaking balls is also much improved, from 0.157 in 2021 to 0.259 this year. Overall, his batted ball velocity has been an issue, but he’s shown improvement in recent games, which is promising for the future.
Kim’s wRC+ has improved every year, from 70 in 2021 to 105 last year, which is above league average, and this year’s 109 is even better than last year. He’s no longer just a good defender. With his top-notch defense and on-base percentage, it’s no wonder his value continues to rise. He’s still improving, and his price tag is still rising.