With the momentum continuing to build in the second half of the season, MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, has finally begun to consider Kim Ha-seong (28, San Diego Padres) as an MVP candidate.
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, said on Sept. 9 (KST), “In a poll conducted at the start of the second half, the MVP candidates in both leagues were unanimous. But now, there is only one player who is unanimous,” the site said, revealing the recent shift in journalists’ opinions.
Starting in the second half of the season, MLB.com writers unanimously voted for Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) in the American League and Ronald Acuña Jr. (26-Atlanta Braves) in the National League. Ohtani was leading all of baseball in home runs while playing a two-hitter, and Acuña Jr. was on pace to set a new major league record with 20 home runs and 40 doubles.
However, unlike the American League, which was still dominated by Ohtani alone, the National League saw a late-season surge in candidates, including Freddie Freeman (34-LA Dodgers), so the MVP vote was split between Ohtani, who received 48 first-place votes, and the National League, with 45 first-place votes for Acuña Jr. and three for Freeman.
Notable is the whereabouts of the other first-place votes. Mookie Betts (31-LA Dodgers), Matt Olson (29-Atlanta), and Juan Soto (25-San Diego) rounded out the list, with Kim joining the likes of Nolan Arenado and Cody Bellinger. This season, Kim is having a career-high season after joining the majors in 2021, batting .288 with 15 home runs, 41 RBI, 62 runs scored, 24 doubles, a .384 on-base percentage, a .454 slugging percentage and an .838 OPS in 108 games.
In addition to his defense, which earned him a spot on the National League shortstop Gold Glove final three last year, Kim’s batting performance has also earned him recognition for his contributions to the team. According to Baseball Reference’s Wins Above Replacement (bWAR), Kim is tied for first in the National League with Acuña Jr. with a bWAR of 5.6. In the Major Leagues as a whole, only Ohtani (8.6) is above him.
With such a remarkable performance, some fans both online and offline in the U.S. have given Kim an MVP nod. However, this is the first time he’s been mentioned in an authoritative media outlet like MLB.com. It’s significant that voters who actually participate in the MVP voting process voted for Kim.
Coincidentally, the same day, MLB Network published a detailed analysis of Kim that caught my eye. According to MLB Network’s analysis, Kim has shown flexibility with off-speed pitches this year, maximizing his on-base percentage. Among all major league hitters with at least 130 plate appearances since June 16, Kim is tied with Freeman for third in wRC+ (adjusted run production) at 185, according to MLB Network. Among hitters with at least 250 plate appearances, Kim is also the fourth most frustrating pitcher in the majors at 4.36 pitches per plate appearance.토스카지노
The detailed metrics overlap, with Kim ranking fourth in the majors in late-season on-base percentage. According to MLB Network’s list of late-season slugging leaders on its official social media accounts, Kim ranks fourth with a 0.490 OPS. That’s just ahead of Acuña Jr. at 0.474. In fact, in the second half of the year alone, Kim is ahead of Acuña Jr. in most hitting metrics and has a higher OPS.
In the second half, Kim is batting .384 with five home runs, 10 doubles, 18 RBIs, eight runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 23 games with a .490 slugging percentage and a .593 OPS of 1.083, while Acuña Jr. is batting .370 with four home runs, 12 doubles, 20 runs scored, 12 stolen bases, a .474 slugging percentage, and a .580 OPS of 1.054 in 21 games, ranking eighth and 11th in the ML in second-half OPS.
There have been four other times when a Korean major leaguer has received MVP votes. Choo Shin-soo (41-SSG Rangers) finished 14th with the Cleveland Indians in 2010 and 12th with Cincinnati in 2013, while Ryu Hyun-jin (36-Toronto Blue Jays) finished 19th with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019 after finishing second in the National League Cy Young Award and 13th with Toronto in 2020 after finishing third in the American League Cy Young Award.
It’s unlikely that Kim will ever actually win an MVP award. Unlike his predecessors, however, Kim is in line to receive the most MVP votes of any Korean big leaguer in history, joining the likes of Acuña Jr. and Freeman as actual MVP candidates.