Two potential MVP candidates, then Kim Ha-Sung…4.8 WAR ‘third best overall’ in Korean history

Behind the two leading MVP candidates in both leagues is Ha-Sung Kim 바카라 (28, San Diego Padres). His 4.8 WAR (Win Above Replacement) per Baseball-Reference ranks him third in all of baseball in that category. He’s also on pace to be the best Korean player ever.

Kim started in the leadoff spot at shortstop against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan, USA, on 23 June, and went 4-for-5 with a home run, his 12th of the season, a double, two RBIs, two runs scored and a walk to lead San Diego to a 14-3 victory.

After reaching base on a walk in his first at-bat, Kim was thrown out at second base in the second inning, but he singled up the middle in the fourth. He drew another walk in the sixth and capped the scoring with a solo shot to left field in the seventh, his 12th home run of the season. It was his most home runs in a single season since making his major league debut, surpassing his 11 last year. With the game on the line in the bottom of the ninth, Detroit infielder Zack Short took the mound. Kim stayed focused and lined a 65.7-mile (105.7-kilometre) arrow to right field.

Huge game-winning contribution, third in WAR behind Ohtaniakunya

Despite a throwing error at the plate in the sixth inning, Kim improved his numbers at the plate, finishing the season 94-for-313 with 12 home runs, 34 RBIs, 51 runs scored, 18 doubles, 42 walks, 79 strikeouts, a .357 on-base percentage, a .428 slugging percentage and a .785 OPS. He continued to heat up in July, going 16-for-20 (65 at-bats) with three home runs, four RBIs and an .892 OPS.

Kim, who also raised his WAR from 4.5 to 4.8 after the event, ranks third in the majors in that category behind Los Angeles Angels slugger Shohei Ohtani (6.8) and Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. (5.0). While their classical performance doesn’t compare to the two players, their all-weather infield defence at second base is a substantial contribution.

Ohtani and Acuña Jr. are the two most likely MVP candidates this season in the American League (AL) and National League (NL), respectively. It’s surprising that Kim sits right behind them. Other big-name players such as Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (4.6), Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (4.5), and Dodgers centre fielder Mookie Betts (4.4) are also behind Kim in WAR.

[Photo] San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim. ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)

[Photo] San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. ⓒGetty Images (All rights reserved)

Kim on pace to lead Koreans in WAR, superstar status beyond Shin-Soo Choo

If Kim continues his current pace, he could become the first Korean major leaguer to reach 6 WAR. The previous high was 5.9 by Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) outfielder Shin-Soo Choo in 2010. The next highest was 5.1 by Dodgers pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin in 2019. The first Korean big leaguer, Park Chan-ho, had a high of 4.9 with the Dodgers in 2000., the official website of Major League Baseball, also said on the same day, “Kim isn’t in the superstar category, but he might have to be now,” adding, “Kim is the best player on the San Diego team with a WAR of 4.5 before today’s game. San Diego hasn’t had a second baseman with a WAR of 5 or more since Mark Loretta in 2004.

Loretta, a two-time All-Star who played for five clubs over a 15-year career from 1995-2009, batted .303 (208-for-620) with 16 home runs, 76 RBIs and an .886 OPS in 154 games for San Diego in 2004. He had a career-high season with a 6.0 WAR, earning an All-Star nod and a Silver Slugger Award. /

[Photo] Kim Ha-seong of San Diego. ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)

[Photo] Mark Loretta in San Diego. ⓒGettyimages (All rights reserved)

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