Will 2023 be a year of trials for Ha-seong Kim (27, San Diego)? Maybe the play time will be cut in half, let alone the starting pitcher.
On the 16th (Korean time), MLB.com, the official website of the Major League Baseball (MLB), predicted San Diego’s 2023 season with the theme of “What will be the follow-up stage of San Diego after signing Zander Bogarts (30)”.
Earlier, on the 8th, San Diego signed an 11-year, $280 million (approximately 367.9 billion won) contract with Bogarts, one of the largest shortstops on the free agent market. Bogarts was recognized as the best offensive shortstop with a career batting average of 0.292, 156 home runs, 683 RBIs, and 74 stolen bases with an OPS of 0.814 during 10 big league seasons.
San Diego’s acquisition of Bogarts surprised everyone. It was because San Diego already had two key shortstop resources, Fernando Tatis Jr. (23) and Kim Ha-seong.
Although Tatis did not play a single game this year due to injury and disciplinary action for taking prohibited drugs, he possessed an excellent bat enough to become the National League home run king (42 home runs) in the 2021 season. 메이저놀이터 Kim Ha-seong recorded a batting average of 0.251, 11 homers, 59 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases, and an OPS of 0.708 this year. Although his batting ability is not as good as that of Tatis, his skillful defense is excellent enough to make him a finalist for the Gold Glove.
However, none of these fall short of Bogaerts’ career as a starting shortstop for nine seasons in the majors. As a result, San Diego is inevitably in a situation where it is necessary to control traffic for the three players.
First of all, the shortstop is expected to be protected by Bogarts, and Tatis is expected to switch to an outfielder who gained experience last year. Regarding Kim Ha-seong, general manager AJ Preller directly declared, “If there are no major changes to the roster, I will spend a lot of time as a second baseman next season.”
The media also confirmed this, saying, “You can easily imagine the combination of third baseman Manny Machado, shortstop Bogatz, second baseman Kim Ha-seong, and first baseman Jake Cronenworth.” Still, the media left room, saying, “I don’t know if this is such a simple problem.”
That’s because San Diego is still looking for first base resources. San Diego recently broke up with first baseman Josh Bell (30) and created a void, and there is a possibility to fill this position with an external blood transfusion. The media predicted that “the first baseman resource that San Diego will recruit will not come out as a designated hitter every day,” and will guarantee defensive time.
If this happens, Cronenworth, who has an advantage over Kim Ha-seong in hitting, such as recording 21 home runs last year, is likely to be the starting second baseman. The media predicted, “San Diego can sometimes put Kim Ha-seong on the bench if a strong right-handed pitcher comes along.” Kim Ha-seong predicted the possibility of playing as a platoon against left-handed pitchers.
This season, Kim Ha-seong recorded a batting average of 0.270 and an OPS of 0.765 against left-handed pitchers. On the other hand, when he faced right-handed pitchers, he posted a slightly lower batting average of 0.243. Although he hit 9 home runs in 394 plate appearances against right-handed pitchers, his OPS was rather low at 0.681.
Initially, Kim Ha-seong was highly likely to be the starting shortstop next season. As Tatis moved to the outfield, Kim Ha-seong, who had good defense, would keep his current position. However, with the arrival of a big infielder, he was pushed to second base, and now he is not even sure of full-time.