The rise of Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) does not seem to be broken even after the All-Star break. In the second half, OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) alone was 1.125. Behind the terrifying performance of the No. 1 hitter, there was a tenacious contact with the pioneering eye that left pitchers with nowhere to throw.
Ha-seong Kim started as first and third baseman in the 2023 Major League home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates held at Petco Park in San Diego, California on the 25th (Korean time) and scored 2 hits (2 home runs) in 4 at-bats, 3 RBIs, 2 runs and 1 walk.무지개벳
At the end of the 1st inning, following the 3rd lead hitter’s home run in his major league career, he achieved 2 homers in his first game since his big league debut in 2021 with a two-run four in the bottom of the 5th inning. At the same time, with a season record of 96 games, a batting average of 0.270, 14 homers, 37 RBIs, 53 points and 18 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of 0.363, a slugging percentage of 0.447 and an OPS of 0.810, 20 homers and 20 stolen bases for an Asian infielder were no longer a dream.
The basis of his remarkable performance in the second half was in the surprisingly elevated front line. Kim Ha-seong, who walked 38 while striking out 73 in the first half, is picking up more walks (7) than strikeouts (6) in the second half. He didn’t just encounter players with poor control. Detroit Tigers right-hander Alex Paedo, who allowed two walks to Kim Ha-seong the previous day (24th), was a pitcher with good control with 1.2 walks per 9 innings this season. However, Kim Ha-seong allowed a series of walks because he seldom hit the bat on a ball that strayed even slightly from the strike zone.
The fact that Ha-seong Kim is a difficult opponent was also revealed by the batting index. Kim Ha-seong’s pitches per at-bat was 4.40, which was second in the major leagues after Ryan McMahon (Colorado Rockies) with 4.42. In this ranking, which changes every game, Kim Ha-seong often took first place, and at some point, he was hardly pushed out of the top 3.
Another record indicates his recent rise. According to major league statistical analyst John Anderson, Kim Ha-sung has been one of the longest strikeout-free batters since his last strikeout this season. Up until this day, he had already had 23 at-bats, and was tied for third in the major leagues with Lewis Campusano (San Diego) and John Berti (Miami Marlins), following Tony Kemp (Oakland Athletics) with 31 at-bats and Mike Talkman (Chicago Cubs) with 24 at-bats.
Pittsburgh pitchers struggled the same way that day. Since he had nowhere to throw, he had no choice but to hit multiple home runs. The victim of the day was Queen Prister, who was selected by Pittsburgh with the 18th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft. In the first at-bat in the first inning, Kim Ha-seong did not touch the ball that was out of Prister’s strike zone. The situation would have been 0S3B if the referee hadn’t caught the first ball with a strike that was about half a sphere out of bounds. When the ball count became unfavorable, the 92.8 mph fastball on the 4th ball flew into the middle, and Ha-seong Kim did not miss it and connected it with a left mid-wall solo shot with a distance of 117.9m.
Even in the second at-bat, he retreated with a shortstop ground ball, but after a full count match that endured all low balls, he threw 6 balls. In the 5th inning, with 1st out and 2nd base, he drew another arch in the middle of the left. He was driven with two strikes, but he kicked off a low-dropping curveball and pushed the slider at 83.8 miles per hour on the fourth pitch, which fell flat, over the fence.
In the seventh, he picked a walk against Carmen Mozinski and walked out. It was easy to deal with Mozinski, whose balls flew all over the place. However, it was regrettable that the second base stolen was caught by the opposing catcher and was out.
Meanwhile, San Diego lost to Pittsburgh 4-8 despite Kim Ha-sung’s great performance. It was big that starter Darvish Yu collapsed early with 8 hits (4 homers), 3 walks, 3 strikeouts and 7 runs in 4⅓ innings. Until the 5th inning, there was no score except for Kim Ha-sung’s home run. San Diego, which suffered two consecutive losses, finished the season in fourth place in the National League West with 48 wins and 53 losses.