As a long-standing lover of Korean players (being half-Korean myself, this seems normal, but also weird. Like normal-weird. Maybe slightly racist? Or I could be confusing it with a fetish. Uh, anyways…), and a long-standing lover of the Padres (and you thought having Covid was bad!), you’d think that a middling middle-infielder (sounded better in my head) would temper my potential personal investment, but you’d be wrong. I mean, do you think disappointment is your ally? You merely adopted it. As a Padres fan, I was born in it, molded by it. But as an established masochist Padres homer (who has an undying love of parenthesis), I ask you, is Ha-Seong Kim really that middling? To the content!
Some may have heard the news, t’was a small story (that would ultimately break my heart, haha, jokes on you Padres, you’ve already broken it several times over, and that was just last week!) about some no-name player that was suspended, thus opening the door to volume at-bats for Mr. Kim. Of which I would prefer calling Mister Kim, because when you can go full Bond villain, you go full Bond villain. And thus enters a dynamic shift late in a season that comes with it an assortment of ripple effects. A long-winded way of saying that Fernando Tatis Jr.’s season deletion has led us here.
But is here really that bad? While that’s the question we want to answer here, to save you some time, I don’t think that question should necessarily matter? Question mark because it technically is an open question. The earnest truth here is that at this stage in the season, any player with a glimmer of something going on (i.e. more playing time) is most likely at least worth your focus for a bit, if not straight out a trial run, but for the sake of actually having real reasons to add this Korean sensation (scientific description), let’s take a look under the hood. (A car reference or what I do to your mother, you decide!)
Not really known for having an incredible arm or natural athleticism from his KBO scouting reports, Kim still has retained the ability to manage at the shortstop position, and of course, has the ability to move around the diamond. That’s of course a plus, especially now for obvious reasons, and provides the main vehicle to get his bat in the lineup, where his true strengths as a player lie. Known for having a solid hit tool, it’s enough to offset the below-average power and middling speed.
After a mediocre debut in 2021, this season has shown his growth, going from a .202/.270/.352 slash in his debut to a .259/.334/.388 this year. Granted, the 8 homeruns in 298 PA last season compared to 7 homeruns in 443 PA in 2022 probably isn’t ideal, but with an improved BB% and K%, the power has a bit of room to expand if he continues to hit just by sheer at-bat accumulation. And while he’s getting those starter at-bats, don’t forget that this is still a potent Padres lineup (though, wait long enough, fate is definitely not what we make) where Kim could see some benefits from. And, at least lately, he’s been hitting fairly well, getting hits in 10 of his last 13 games while hitting over .350 with two doubles and a steal the past week.
If there’s a need, Kim is there to provide. Truly, at this stage of the season, it’s hard to have any standards, much like my love life, but it’s nice to know that there’s a player out there that could actually exceed those standards, however low they are. And at the very least, he won’t hurt you. The Padres might! (Actually, it’s required by law.)
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him on Twitter @jaywrong.