Asian players have been steadily active in the major leagues and have built up their territory. But the majority were pitchers, and fielders often struggled.
Especially the defense was like that. Players who were evaluated as the best defenders on the Asian stage often struggled when they went to the major leagues because they lacked athletic ability. He used to struggle with batting style, which was on a different level in the major leagues. As an Asian fielder, Ichiro Suzuki is the only player who received a special evaluation in defense. Infielders aren’t very well regarded, and there are plenty of examples of them switching positions from shortstop to second or third base.
However, Ha-seong Kim (28‧San Diego) is different. He is already recognized as one of the best infield defenders in the major leagues. The fact that he entered the final three candidates for the National League Gold Glove last year proves this. The record was, of course, proof that he was recognized by all opponents and coaches who played together on the major league stage.
This year, he is building a more stable defensive record than last year. Kim Ha-seong, who played shortstop last year due to Fernando Tatis Jr.’s injury and disciplinary gap, moved to second base when the team recruited Xander Bogarts this year. Still, second base is less burdensome than shortstop. There were many prospects that Kim Ha-seong would take more defensive indicators than last year, but it is actually happening.
Just look at the defensive indicators compiled by the ‘Sports Information Service’ (SIS). SIS collects its own defense indicators with the ‘Fielding Bible’, which has a significant impact on the selection of candidates for the Gold Glove. However, Ha-seong Kim is the player who is running first in the major leagues in terms of defensive indicators of SIS this year. He is the top defensive player in the major leagues at every position beyond second base.
That’s a big difference too. As of the 19th (Korean time), Kim Ha-seong is recording +12 in the DRS (an indicator that indicates how much goals have been prevented by defense) compiled by SIS. This is better than the +9 of Dalton Basho (Toronto), Lewis Robert (Chicago White Sox) and Kybrian Hayes (Pittsburgh), who are in second place.
Kevin Kiermeier (Toronto), the best outfield defensive player in the major leagues, is +8, and Marcus Simeon (Texas), who is competing for the best in various second baseman defense indicators this year, is +8, pushing Kim Ha-seong out last year in the National League shortstop category. Dansby Swanson (Chicago Cubs), who won the Gold Glove, is +7.스포츠토토
The players who are ranked high in this metric are all players who are recognized as good defenders in the league. It can be seen as a factor that adds to the reliability of this indicator. However, it may be an unbelievable factor that Kim Ha-seong is running in first place overall, far ahead of the second place.
In fact, Ha-seong Kim’s defense in the KBO League was not evaluated as the unrivaled best. Even in the major leagues, defensive metrics are just at the stage of reinforcing reliability, but the KBO league doesn’t even have that. Although he was an athletic player, he made no small number of mistakes. However, San Diego bet that Kim Ha-seong can develop into an excellent defender in several areas.
He first evaluated his athletic ability as very good. Since he is still at an age where he may be in his prime, he saw that this ability would be maintained for the time being. Also, it was considered that Gocheok Sky Dome, the home stadium of Kim Ha-seong, is an artificial turf. Artificial turf usually tends to increase batting speed. Kim Ha-seong, who has adapted to a fast enough batting ball, is expected to be able to adapt without any particular difficulties in the major leagues. And San Diego was right.
Ha-sung Kim’s success in terms of defensive indicators could be a factor in revisiting Asian players in the future, and more Asian players could grow their dreams by watching Ha-sung Kim play. If this defensive indicator is maintained until the end this year, Kim Ha-seong can make a big mark in Asian baseball.