Is it too much to ask for a starting center fielder and table setter at the same time? Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) is showing ‘red flags’ at the end of the season.
Kim was not named in the starting lineup for the San Diego Padres’ 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) game against the Oakland Athletics at Levi’s Central Coliseum in Oakland, California, on Aug. 18 (Korea time).
Initially, Kim was scheduled to start the game at first base and second base, but the lineup changed shortly before the start of the game and San Diego moved Jurickson Profar to first base and Matthew Batten to second base to fill Kim’s void.
For the rest of the game, Kim was nowhere to be seen. Especially after San Diego won the game 10-1 behind a multi-homer performance from Soto. Profar and Batten went the full nine innings without a change.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Kim was pulled due to unexplained abdominal pain. “We ran tests, and we didn’t find anything unusual, such as appendicitis,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin told the media outlet. “We’re still not sure exactly what it is, but I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Melvin said. Maybe it’s just a body ache.”
Whatever the case, Kim’s current situation is not looking good. In 13 games since September, Kim is batting .167 (9-for-54) with six home runs, seven doubles, and a .417 OPS. He hasn’t hit more than two doubles and doesn’t have a stat that stands out except for his walks (six) and stolen bases.
He’s been on a roll all season, and it’s clear that he’s tired. In an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune on April 14, he said, “It’s a really, really long (season). I’m grinding. So I’m trying to stay sharp and play at a high level and do everything I can to help the team win. Staying fit is what I’m going to do.”
The San Diego organization has also given Kim a chance to rest and recharge his batteries. On March 13, the Padres removed Kim from the starting lineup for the first time in 49 days. This was unusual, as he had rarely been rested in the past, even when injured on the field or kicking a bucket of water in the dugout. But the rest hasn’t paid off yet.
Since reaching the major leagues in 2021, Kim has been working nonstop, especially at shortstop, where he played 1263⅓ innings last year, surpassing his previous career high of 1209⅓ innings in the KBO (2015). This year, as of the 18th, he has played 1178⅓ innings of defense, rotating between second base (795⅔ innings), third base (245⅓ innings), and shortstop (137⅓ innings). If he plays full-time in the team’s remaining 12 games, he could top last year’s total.
In addition, Kim has been batting first since June 23 against San Francisco. He’s been playing center field, which is a physically demanding position, and getting a lot of at-bats. Add to that the fact that Kim’s style of play, which involves a lot of physicality in the field and on the bases, requires a lot of stamina. In the end, it all adds up to a slump.메이저놀이터
Of course, even with these struggles, Kim’s 2023 season was remarkable. In 143 games this year, he’s batting .265 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, 81 runs scored, 36 doubles, a .356 on-base percentage, a .407 slugging percentage, and a .763 OPS. His WAR (wins above replacement) of 5.7 ranks fifth in the National League, according to Baseball-Reference. Fangraphs ranks him 19th in the league at 4.4, making him one of the league’s top players.
With the rigors of the major league schedule and the amount of games played, Kim’s performance has been declining. But even this is a learning experience for the third-year big leaguer. It will be interesting to see how he manages his fitness next season, now that he’s playing full-time for the second year in a row.