Jae-hwan Kim

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Jae-hwan Kim (김재환)

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jae-hwan Kim has been MVP of the Korea Baseball Organization.

He debuted with the Doosan Bears in 2008 as a catcher, going 3 for 21 (no walks, all singles). He did not play in the Korea Baseball Organization in 2009 or 2010 while fulfilling his military service commitment with the Sangmu Phoenix, then joined the South Korean national team in the 2010 Intercontinental Cup. Serving primarily at DH, he did very well, batting .448/.467/.826 with 8 runs, 8 RBI and 3 homers in 7 games in the round-robin phase; he went deep off Taiwan's Hung-Wen Chen, Hong Kong's Tsz-Chun Heung and Japan's Katsuki Akagawa. He was 3rd in slugging (behind Héctor Olivera and Alfredo Despaigne), 6th in average (between Che-Hsuan Lin and Yulieski Gurriel), 7th in OBP (between Cuban multi-MVP winners Despaigne and Gurriel), tied Gurriel for second in RBI (one behind Despaigne), was 8th in runs, tied for 6th in doubles, led in homers and tied Olivera for the most total bases (25). In the 5th/6th place game, he was 0 for 3 against Japan. He was named the event's All-Star DH, the only South Korean named to an All-Star spot.

Returning to Doosan in 2011, he hit .185/.214/.352 in 56 plate appearances. He was back with the national team in the 2011 Baseball World Cup and produced at a .333/.517/.381 clip as their DH and cleanup man, drawing 8 walks in 7 games. He tied Sidney de Jong, Bernie Castro, Concepcion Rodriguez and Matt Clark for 4th in the Cup in walks. Had he qualified, he would have been 6th in OBP, between Fernando Seguignol and Víctor Méndez. He was then suspended for a positive steroid test. He got into 13 games for Doosan in 2012 following the suspension but sputtered (.128/.209/.231) and did not play in the 2013 KBO.

The Bears then moved him from catcher to first base, with Eui-ji Yang ensconced behind the dish. He hit .306/.385/.482 in 96 plate appearances in 2014, earning increased time in 2015, though his hitting regressed (.235/.335/.425 in 180 PA). He was an outfielder by 2016, when he became both a starter and a star. He hit .325/.407/.628 with 107 runs, 32 doubles, 37 homers, 124 RBI and 71 walks. He was 7th in the 2016 KBO in runs (between Hae-min Park and Jeong Choi), 3rd in dingers (3 behind co-leaders Eric Thames and Jeong Choi), 2nd with 309 total bases (29 behind Hyoung-woo Choi), 3rd in RBI (behind Hyoung-woo Choi and Tae-kyun Kim), 7th in walks (between Thames and Danny Dorn), 3rd in slugging (after Thames and Hyoung-woo Choi) and 4th in OPS (between Tae-kyun Kim and Ji-wan Na). He won a Gold Glove as one of the KBO's three top all-around outfielders that season, joining Hyoung-woo Choi and Joo-chan Kim. He helped Doosan win the 2016 Korean Series.

Kim had another impressive campaign in the 2017 KBO at .340/.429/.603 with 34 doubles, 35 homers, 110 runs and 115 RBI. He made numerous leaderboards: average (7th, between Hyoung-woo Choi and Wilin Rosario), runs (4th, between Jung-hoo Lee and Ja-wook Koo), hits (185, 2nd, 8 behind Ah-seop Son), doubles (tied for 10th with Sun-bin Kim), home runs (tied for 3rd with Xavier Scruggs), total bases (328, 1st by 27 over Roger Bernadina), RBI (3rd behind Darin Ruf and Hyoung-woo Choi), walks (81, 3rd behind Hyoung-woo Choi and Son), slugging (3rd, behind Jeong Choi and Rosario), OBP (3rd, after Hyoung-woo Choi and Min-woo Park) and OPS (3rd, behind Jeong Choi and Rosario). In Game 1 of the 2017 Korean Series, he and Jae-il Oh became the 8th duo to hit back-to-back homers in a Korean Series game, but Doosan dropped the next four to the KIA Tigers.

He helped South Korea win the Gold at the 2018 Asian Games. Playing DH primarily, he hit .316/.375/.579 with 5 runs and 6 RBI in 5 games in the main round, tying Byung-ho Park for 7th in the Games in RBI. His homer off Sheng-Feng Wu was South Korea's only run in their one loss, to Taiwan. He hit 3rd and played DH in the Gold Medal Game, getting 2 of South Korea's four hits in a 3-0 win over Japan. The Games came in the middle of another big KBO season for Kim: .334/.405/.657, 36 2B, 44 HR, 104 R, 133 RBI in 139 G. He led the league in homers (one ahead of Jamie Romak), total bases (346, 13 ahead of Mel Rojas Jr.) and RBI (8 ahead of Dae-ho Lee). He was also 2nd in slugging (.061 behind Byung-ho Park) and OPS (113 behind Byung-ho Park), tied for 9th in walks (59), was 8th in OBP (between Han-joon Yoo and Jae-won Lee), 8th in runs (between Bernadina and Romak) and 10th in average (between Yoo and Joo-hwan Choi). Doosan dominated the regular season but lost the 2018 Korean Series to the SK Wyverns. Kim won the KBO MVP for his strong performance. He joined Jun-ho Jeon and Jung-hoo Lee as the Gold Glove outfielders.

Kim slumped to .283/.362/.434 with 15 homers and 91 RBI in 2019. He was 9th in RBI and 10th with 63 walks. Doosan won the 2019 Korean Series. In the 2019 Premier 12, his two-run single off Chris Leroux broke a scoreless tie with Team Canada in the 6th in a 3-1 win. His 3-run shot off Cody Ponce was the big hit in a 5-1 win over Team USA. He finished at only .160/.250/.280 as Korea's DH but drove in six runs in eight games. Hitting 3rd in the Gold Medal Game, he was 0 for 4 in a loss to Japan. He finished tied for 3rd in the event in RBI, behind Seiya Suzuki and Bobby Dalbec. On December 5, 2019, he was posted by Doosan to see if he could attract serious offers from a team in Major League Baseball. However, these failed to materialize.