“Even if we miss a second baseman, there’s a utility category.” Kim Ha-Sung, who’s as good as anybody…competing with MVP candidates for the Golguks

September 16, 2023 | by

The San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim, 28, has shown his versatility in all areas of the offense this year, making him a valuable member of the team.

While Blake Snell has been the ace on the pitching staff, on pace to challenge for the Cy Young Award, Kim has defied expectations and become a key player in the outfield. At the plate, as a leadoff hitter, and on defense, in the heart of the infield, in center field, he played second base, shortstop, and third base. Kim’s contributions and value this year are undeniable.

All indicators point to his greatness this season. While other players had to rest here and there, he had to keep playing. In fact, he was so healthy and consistent that he couldn’t rest and was overworked. His performance declined. At the plate, Kim is batting .492 (132-for-492) with 17 home runs, 58 RBIs, 35 doubles, and a .771 OPS. He’s on pace for 20 homers and 40 doubles, but his pace has slowed.

His defensive stats, which were dominant in the early to mid-season, have also dipped somewhat due to constant traveling and the emergence of competition. He’s accumulated a lot of numbers, but at a cost. His +7 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), a metric that measures how many runs are prevented by rain, ranks third among National League second basemen. He trails only Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs) and Bryce Turan (Milwaukee). He has an Outs Above Average (OAA) of +4. Third among National League second basemen.

It’s not like he’s a lock for a Gold Glove at second base based on many defensive metrics. However, his highlight reel defense at second base has become well known around the country. In a survey of managers, scouts, and officials, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 1 defender at second base.

Still, Kim’s Gold Glove prospects are bright because he could also win the Gold Glove as a utility player instead of a second baseman. The Gold Glove for Utility Players was started last year to recognize the performance and value of versatile players who can play multiple positions.

This year, Kim played 777⅔ innings at second base, 245⅓ innings at third base, and 137⅓ innings at shortstop. His defense at each position is also above average. In DRS, he is +3 at shortstop and +3 at third base. His DRS total for the year is +13. If he were to play second base, he could easily have a +13 rating. In OAA, he is +3 at third base and 0 at shortstop. All of these players are well above average defensively, as evidenced by their metrics.

In their list of things to keep an eye on for the rest of the season, mentioned which San Diego players could win Gold Gloves. Kim’s name was inevitably included. “San Diego’s defense has been flawless this year, and they’ll have a trophy to show for it come November,” the publication said, adding, “Fernando Tatis Jr. is the presumptive favorite for the Gold Glove in right field, as he has adapted seamlessly to his new position. Trent Grisham, who already has two center field Gold Gloves, will be looking for a third.

“He could win the Gold Glove at second base, or he could win the best utility player award. He’s played most of his time at second base, but he’s also excelled at shortstop and third base, wherever he’s been put,” explaining Kim’s Gold Glove credentials.

However, there are strong contenders in the utility player category as well. It’s National League MVP candidate Mookie Betts. This year, Betts is batting .529 (165-for-529) with 39 home runs, 103 RBIs, 13 doubles, and a 1.019 OPS in 137 games. He is the favorite to win the MVP from Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta), who is on pace for 40 homers and 70 doubles. Acuña Jr. is batting .303 (199-for-594) with 37 home runs, 87 RBI, 66 doubles, and a 1.002 OPS.

But as talented as Betts is on offense, he’s also showing off his “Yazalzal” side on defense. Although his primary position is right field, he has played a relatively high number of innings in center field this year due to team needs. He played 670⅔ innings in right field, 391 at second base, and 98 at shortstop. His defense isn’t bad either. His DRS is +4 in right field, +6 at second base, and 0 at shortstop. Betts’ athleticism has allowed him to play above-average defense outside of his primary position.

In early August, Bleacher Report ranked the top 10 best players by position at the time, with Betts at No. 1 in the utility category and Kim at No. 2. It’s true that Kim’s path to the Gold Glove was not easy. However, it’s clear that he’s having a season that will give him a legitimate shot at making history as the first Asian Gold Glove winner. 안전놀이터


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