Tue. Oct 3rd, 2023

“I shudder to think where the San Diego Padres would be without Ha-Sung Kim (28).”

That’s what AJ Cassavelle, the San Diego reporter for Major League Baseball’s website MLB.com, said after watching Kim’s historic season. As of the 23rd, the Padres were 60-66 on the season and in fourth place in the National League West. Their chances of winning the division are gone, and they’ll need a miracle in the wild-card race. The Padres are 5.5 games behind the third-place San Francisco Giants (65-60) for the final wild-card spot in the National League. Unless they go on one long winning streak the rest of the season, it won’t be easy to turn the tables.

온라인바카라 Considering the investments San Diego has made in their players, they should have been in contention this year. In free agency, the Padres signed shortstop Xander Bogaerts to an 11-year, $280 million ($374.7 million) contract and infielder Jake Cronenweth to a seven-year, $80 million ($107 million) extension. Manny Machado (10 years, $350 million), Fernando Tatis Jr. (14 years, $340 million), Joe Musgrove (5 years, $100 million), and Darvish Yu (6 years, $108 million) are just a few of the other big-name players who have signed long-term deals.

Kim doesn’t have a contract like that, not even close. When Kim hits the big leagues in 2021, San Diego will give him a four-year, $28 million (37.4 billion won) deal. With Machado, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Cronenwirth, there was a lot of position overlap in the infield, and Kim was a depth signing, so it made sense at the time.

But not now. Ha-Sung Kim has been feeding San Diego this year. According to both Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR), he’s the team’s best player. bWAR ranks him second in defence at 2.0 and eighth in offence at 4.4. His bWAR, which combines offence and defence, is 6.0, which ranks third in the majors. “It gives me chills to think about where San Diego would be without him,” Casabell said.

Kim performing an exciting ceremony

Kim proved that he has stepped up to the plate when he made history at home against the Miami Marlins on the 22nd. Starting in the leadoff spot and batting second, Kim went 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs to lead the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory and snap a two-game losing streak. Any more losses and San Diego’s autumn would have been far from assured.

Kim pounded Miami starter Ryan Weathers from his first at-bat in the top of the first inning. He lined a double to right field. The next batter, Tatis Jr. drew a walk to put runners on first and second, and when Juan Soto struck out swinging, Kim and Tatis Jr. stole a double. It was Kim’s 28th stolen base of the season. With runners on first and third, Kim scored on Machado’s sacrifice fly to left field.

In his second at-bat of the inning with a 1-0 lead, he hit his first career grand slam. Weathers was shaken up one inning later when he gave up three straight singles to Luis Camposano, Garrett Cooper and Trent Grisham. Kim drew a two-strike count as Weathers came in aggressively looking for strikes, but on the third pitch, a 96.6-mph (155.5-kilometre) fastball went over the left field fence. It was a big hit that looked like it was going to be a grand slam. His 17th of the season. San Diego quickly took a 5-0 lead.

It was Kim’s first grand slam in 388 major league games and his 300th career hit. He became the fifth Korean major leaguer to hit a grand slam. Before Kim, Shin-soo Choo (four), Hee-seop Choi (one), Jung-ho Kang (two), and Ji-Man Choi (two).

Kim became the first player in San Diego history to hit a home run, a double and a stolen base in the same game. This is something that even the most expensive players in San Diego, who are called superstars, have not been able to do.

Kim is congratulated by his teammates ⓒYonhap/AP

San Diego players, including Kim, pose for a commemorative photo. San Diego Padres

“It’s always nice to break a record,” said Kim, but he was more concerned with the team’s victory. He said he was more concerned about the team’s autumn baseball than his own individual success.

“Our team is playing as if every game is the last game,” he told the American media. Every game is really important. That’s our mindset now, and it will be the same tomorrow.”

San Diego head coach Bob Melvin couldn’t help but think that Kim looked pretty. “He’s been playing really well all season,” Melvin said after the game, when asked by the US media how big a part of the team he’s played lately, “lately?” he replied.

“He’s been batting leadoff, he’s been hitting back-to-back, he’s hit how many home runs this year, 17? He’s a 20-homer hitter now. He scores runs, he hits the decisive blow, he gets on base well, he understands the duties of a leadoff man, and he goes into the game. Not to mention he plays good defence. He’s become a really good player.” If Kim hits 20 home runs, he will make history as the first Asian infielder to join the 20-homer, 20-steal club.

Bob Melvin, manager of the San Diego Padres.

MLB.com called it a “long, miserable day” after San Diego lost both games of a doubleheader to the Arizona Diamondbacks on 20 April, and the Padres needed a rebound this week. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that our dwindling playoff hopes were practically hanging in the balance this week, and when we needed a spark this year, it was Kim who often provided it.

“Sometimes I feel like our team has been down, but that’s never the case with the way he plays,” Melvin said. He’s always been a key player for us. There’s a lot of energy that he brings to the table.”

MLB.com added, “To be fair, Kim has brought that kind of energy in each of his last three seasons with San Diego. More recently, he’s just added power (long balls) to his repertoire.

He hopes to stay hot so that San Diego can make a miracle run heading into autumn baseball, just as he made a miracle run this year as the lowest paid player on the team.

“Once a hitter’s bat gets hot, it stays hot,” Kim said. My bat has been hot for the past two months, and I’ve been trying to keep it that way as long as possible. I’m now thinking of trying to keep the hot batting feeling until the end of the season,” he said, emphasising that he wants to share the momentum of his maiden home run with the team until the end of the season.

Kim Ha-seong.

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