[IS Focus] 0.414 batting average + 9 stolen bases + Shin-Soo Choo – Ichiro summoned… Kim’s summer is hot

[IS Focus] 0.414 batting average + 9 stolen bases + Shin-Soo Choo – Ichiro summoned… Kim’s summer is hot

Kim Ha-seong (27-San Diego Padres) has been silent for 17 games. He failed to break the record for the longest hitting streak by a Korean big leaguer. For the past 16 games, Kim has been the star of the show.

He started at first base and batted second against the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, on 13 (KST), but went hitless in four at-bats. It put the brakes on a 16-game hitting streak that began against the Pittsburgh Pirates on 25 March. The previous record for hitting streaks by a Korean big leaguer was 16 games, achieved by Choo Shin-soo (now SSG Landers) in July 2013 when he was a member of the Cincinnati Reds. Kim had a multi-hit game in Arizona on the 12th, matching Choo’s record, but fell short of breaking it. His batting average dropped from 0.290 to 0.286. 안전놀이터

Even though his hitting streak came to a halt, Kim’s summer performance was cathartic for Korean baseball fans. He outshined the San Diego Padres, a team full of star players earning more than $20 million a year. His defensive prowess, combined with his offensive prowess, made him an unrivalled team contributor. His Wins Above Replacement (WAR) was comparable to the likes of Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels) and Ronald Acuna Jr. (Atlanta Braves).

Before he knew it, he was batting leadoff. In addition to his hit production, he also proved to be a visionary, reaching base in 15 consecutive games. He tied the record set by Japanese slugger Ichiro Suzuki, who is considered a legend in MLB. He added another hit against the Seattle Mariners on the 9th, when his streak was interrupted.

In the 16 games during his hitting streak, he batted a whopping .414 (24-for-58). If it weren’t for the July-August stretch, he would have been in the running for monthly MVP honours.

As much as he was getting on base, he was also showing off his quick feet. He started adding stolen bases on the 26th against Pittsburgh. He went four games without a stolen base after the Los Angeles Dodgers on the 5th, but then had a “one game, three stolen bases” performance against Seattle on the 10th. In 16 games, he added a total of nine steals. As of the 13th, he has 27 stolen bases and is on pace to reach 30.

He also added three home runs in that span, giving him 15 for the season and moving him closer to joining the 20-homer, 20-steal club in his third year in the big leagues. At his current hitting pace, he should be able to do it in the remainder of the regular season.

Kim went hitless in Arizona on the 13th. It was the first time in 20 games that he hadn’t reached base since the 21st against the Toronto Blue Jays, when he went 0-for-1 as a substitute.

At bat in the first inning against Arizona on 13 July. Photo by MLB.com

While the upswing was brief, Kim’s silence against Arizona on the 13th should be comforting, as it was a game in which he was able to see what he now calls “clear eyes.” He faced Arizona ace Zach Galen in his first at-bat of the inning and swung at a six-pitch four-seam fastball on the right side of the plate on a 2-ball-2-strike count. The ball was not on the borderline, but outside the strike zone (S-zone). The umpire’s call was incorrect. Even if he had struck out, it would have been more meaningful.

The local fans’ support for Kim Ha-seong is a source of pride for Korean baseball fans. Last season, it was mainly in the field, but this season, the excitement is reflected in the batting order. Kim Ha-seong’s summer is still hot.

By Ahn Hee-soo anheesoo@edaily.co.kr

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