4 August 2023

“An elite leadoff in every way,” Kim steals the hearts of his teammates after a fan… First Hustle Play Award nomination since Shin-Soo Choo

By pestfood.com

He was elite not only in his skills, but also in stealing hearts. Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres) is the first Korean big leaguer since Choo Shin-soo (41-SSG Rangers) to be named a finalist for the Major League Baseball Hustle Play Award.스포츠토토

The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) announced on its official website and social media on Thursday (July 4) that Kim has been selected to represent San Diego for the 2023 Heart & Hustle Award.

The Heart & Hustle Award recognizes active players who best embody the values, spirit, traditions and passion for the game of baseball. Each year in August, each of the 30 clubs nominates one player to represent their organization, and the 30 players are then voted on by current and former players in November to determine the final winner.

This is the first time Kim Ha-seong, who entered the Major League Baseball in 2021, has been selected to represent a club. The only other Korean major leaguer to be nominated for the award since its inception in 2005 was Shin-Soo Choo, who won twice (Cleveland in 2010 and Cincinnati in 2013).

The San Diego Union-Tribune, which broke the news, said, “Kim could be the team’s MVP after this season. His play has certainly garnered rave reviews this year.”

The praise for Kim is well-deserved. He was one of three finalists for the National League Gold Glove last year after playing a full season at shortstop, and this year he’s moved to second base, where he’s been playing excellent defense. According to Fielding Bible’s official website, he ranks sixth in the majors with a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved, a measure of how many runs a defender prevents) of +14. He is first overall among second basemen and is already being talked about as a possible National League Gold Glove winner.

What stands out more than anything else is his remarkable batting average. In his third year in the majors, Kim is batting .284 with 15 home runs, 41 RBIs, 60 runs scored, 22 doubles, and an OPS of .838 in 104 games this season. It’s a career-high season in the majors, both cumulatively and by percentage.

As he’s gotten more patient at the plate and picked the pitches he wants to hit, his batting average has started to improve by leaps and bounds. After three days of play, he ranks third in the majors in pitches per at-bat at 4.37. For pitchers, he’s almost as tricky a hitter as Mike Trout (4.30).

But since settling into the leadoff spot in mid-June, he’s been taking to it like meat to water, batting .321 with nine homers, 18 RBIs, 31 runs scored, 11 doubles, and a .998 OPS in 34 games. MLB.com’s A.J. Casabell, who covers San Diego, was tongue-in-cheek on social media after Kim hit his fourth leadoff home run of the season, his 15th, saying, “Kim is a truly elite leadoff hitter in almost every way.”

His offensive and defensive prowess has earned him a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) of 5.4 according to Baseball Reference, ranking him third in the league behind Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) and Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta).

In the leadoff spot, where he gets the most at-bats and is expected to be aggressive at the plate, Kim has stolen the hearts of fans and teammates alike with his unselfish hustle. When Kim grabbed his shoulder after scoring the go-ahead run on a home slide against the Texas Rangers on March 31, everyone in San Diego was stunned. “He’s been the most consistent player on the team, probably the best player,” said franchise star and superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. “We definitely need him to get to where we want to go (fall baseball).”