Ha-seong Kim

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Ha-seong Kim (김하성)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Ha-seong Kim has played in the Korea Baseball Organization and for the South Korean national team.

Kim starred for South Korea in the 2013 U-18 Baseball World Cup, hitting .433/.485/.533 with 9 runs though he fielded .852. He was 3 for 3 with 3 runs in the 5th/6th place game win over Venezuela. He tied for 7th in the event with 4 errors but also tied Tzu-Hao Chen for 4th in average, tied for 4th in runs and tied Chen and Tomoya Mori for 3rd with 13 hits. He did not make the All-Star team as Mike Rivera was picked at 3B. [1] The Nexen Heroes took him in the 3rd round of the 2014 KBO draft. [2] He saw little action as a rookie in 2014 (.188/.298/.396 in 59 PA over 60 G). [3]

He became a starter in 2015, after Jung-ho Kang left the Heroes for the Pittsburgh Pirates. He did a fine job filling in for Kang, hitting .290/.362/.489 with 35 doubles, 19 homers, 22 steals in 26 tries and 89 runs. He was two steals shy from making the league's top 10. He tied Byung-ho Park and Brett Pill for 3rd in doubles and tied for 6th with 5 triples. He did not succeed Kang as the KBO Gold Glove winner as the league's top overall shortstop, as Jae-ho Kim got the nod. In the 2016 KBO, he batted .281/.358/.477 with 29 doubles, 7 triples, 20 home runs, 92 runs, 84 RBI, 60 walks and 28 steals (in 43 attempts). He was one of two 20-20 players in the KBO that year; Jae-gyun Hwang was the other. He made the league leaderboards in triples (tied Geon-chang Seo for 4th), steals (tied Jong-wook Ko for 4th) and caught stealing (tied Hae-min Park and Moon-ho Kim for 2nd). He again did not get picked for the Gold Glove, which again went to Jae-ho Kim.

The Bucheon native replaced Kang once again, this time on the South Korean team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. [4] He was the team's youngest player, two years and eight months younger than Chang-min Sim, the next-youngest. He sat out the opener as Jae-ho Kim played but got the start in game 2, a loss against the Kingdom of the Netherlands. He popped out against Rick van den Hurk in the 3rd and Diegomar Markwell in the 5th then grounded out against Shairon Martis in the 7th. In their third and final game, he started in a win over Taiwan. He drew a walk from Chun-Lin Kuo in the 2nd and scored on a sacrifice fly by Byung-hun Min then singled in the 3rd off Wei-Lun Pan before being replaced by Jae-ho Kim. [5] He also played for South Korea in the new Asia Professional Baseball Championship. [6]

For the 2017 KBO campaign, he hit .302/.376/.513 with 36 doubles, 23 dingers, 90 runs, 114 RBI and 16 stolen bases (caught 8 times). He tied Hyung-woo Choi for 7th in doubles, tied Ko and Soo-kwang Ro for 9th in swipes and was 4th in RBI (between Jae-hwan Kim and Jeong Choi). He again was denied the Gold Glove, this time by Sun-bin Kim. He homered twice in the 2018 KBO All-Star Game MVP and tied the record for four RBI, winning KBO All-Star Game MVP, the first Heroes player to win the honor. [7] He produced at a .288/.358/.474 clip in the 2018 KBO, with 95 runs, 27 doubles, 20 homers, 84 RBI and 54 walks. He led shortstops with a .979 fielding percentage though he did not make the offensive leaderboards. He did get his first Golden Glove, though. [8]

He started for South Korea in the 2018 Asian Games, hitting .333/.467/.583 with 4 runs in 4 games in the preliminary round while making no errors. In the Gold Medal Game, he was 0 for 2 with two walks and a run in a 3-0 win over Japan while handling 5 chances error-free. Due to the win, he got exemption from serving in the military. [9] In 2019, he hit .307/.389/.491 with 38 doubles, 19 homers, 112 runs, 104 RBI, 33 steals in 37 tries and 70 walks for the Kiwoom Heroes (the team having been sold). He led the KBO in runs (four ahead of Jerry Sands), was second in doubles (one behind Sands), missed the top 10 in home runs by one, was 4th in total bases (262, between Mel Rojas Jr. and Jung-hoo Lee), tied Rojas for 2nd in RBI (9 shy of Sands), was 6th in walks (between Jamie Romak and Jeong Choi) and was second in swipes (6 behind Chan-ho Park). He won his second Gold Glove. [10]

The 2020 KBO season was delayed slightly by the COVID-19 pandemic. He hit .306/.397/.523 with 30 home runs, 111 runs, 109 RBI, 75 walks and 23 steals in 25 attempts. He tied Jeong Choi and Seok-min Park for 6th in walks, was 3rd in runs (behind Rojas and Sung-bum Na), tied Jae-hwan Kim for 9th in homers, was 9th in RBI (between Dae-ho Lee and Aaron Altherr) and was 5th in swipes. He won his third straight Gold Glove, the first shortstop to do that since Jung-ho Kang. Following the 2020 season, on December 7th, he was posted by Kiwoom, to allow him a chance to enter Major League Baseball. On December 28th, it was announced that he had come to an agreement with the San Diego Padres, although this was pending a physical, after which the terms of the deal would be revealed. The following day, the contract was revealed to be for four years and $25 million.

Ha-seong made his major league debut with the Padres on Opening Day, April 1, 2021, striking out in his only at-bat as a pinch-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The opposing pitcher was Alex Young. Two days later, he got his first start and singled off Caleb Smith his first time up to bring in Wil Myers. He also singled off Smith his next trip to the plate. On April 9th, he fielded the ground ball that started the final out of Joe Musgrove's historic no-hitter, the first in Padres history, and the next day he hit his first career homer. It came in the 5th inning off Jordan Lyles of the Texas Rangers in a 7-4 win. He hit .202 in 117 games in his rookie season, with 8 homers and 34 RBIs, for an OPS+ of 73. He only had 267 at-bats, as many of his appearances were as a pinch-hitter; on defense, he played 35 games at shortstop, 23 at third base and 21 at second base.

In 2022, he took the opportunity presented by Fernando Tatis Jr.'s off-season injury to claim the starting shortstop job, and he ran away with it, playing 150 games and batting .251 with 11 homers and 59 RBIs. This may not have looked too impressive at first glance, but it was good for an OPS+ of 105, and his defensive play was outstanding. In the postseason he played 12 games over three rounds, going 8 for 43 (.186) with 8 runs and 3 RBIs. He hit .188/.275/.750 in the 2023 World Baseball Classic as all three of his hits were homers; he had five runs and six RBI in four games. He went deep off Lukáš Ercoli, Jeff Barto and Changlong Su. While his team did not make the second round, he was second in the tourney in homers behind Trea Turner's 5. [11]

The Padres went on a big shopping spree after that season, adding among others SS Xander Bogaerts on a big free agent contract. It was clear that Kim would have to change positions, but he did that seamlessly, switching to second base while Tatis, back from his injury and a suspension for PED use, moved to the outfield. While the high-payroll team disappointed, it was not Kim's fault, as he was a solid contributor on both sides of the ball. On August 11th, he matched a record set by compatriot Shin-Soo Choo for the longest hitting streak ever by a Korean-born player in MLB, getting a hit in his 16th straight game. He finished at .260 in 152 games with 84 runs, 60 RBIs, 23 doubles, 17 homers and 38 stolen bases. His OPS+ was 110 and he won a Gold Glove as the top fielding utility player in the National League: he played 106 games at second base, 32 at third and 20 at shortstop. Prior to the 2024 season, the Padres announced that Bogaerts would move over to second base and Kim would be the regular shortstop, in recognition of the fact that he was now clearly the better fielder of the two.

Notable Achievements[edit]


Further Reading[edit]

  • Jesús Cano: "Kim matches longest hitting streak by player born in Korea: Padres' spark plug equals Choo with a 16-game tear", mlb.com, August 12, 2023. [1]
  • AJ Cassavell: "Coveted INF Kim agrees with SD (source)", mlb.com, December 28, 2020. [2]
  • AJ Cassavell: "Bogaerts moving to second; Kim named Padres' shortstop", mlb.com, February 16, 2024. [3]
  • AJ Cassavell: "Paying it forward: How Kim helps fellow Korean players adjust to MLB", mlb.com, March 15, 2024. [4]
  • Jon Paul Morosi: "Standout Korean SS Ha-seong Kim posted", mlb.com, December 7, 2020. [5]
  • Shaun O'Neill: "'He's a special talent': Kim's skill knows no bounds ... literally", mlb.com, August 21, 2022. [6]

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