San Diego Padres outfielder Ha-Sung Kim, 28, is having a breakout season.

Kim started at first base against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Petco Park in San Diego, California, on April 26 and went 2-for-5 with a home run and a stolen base. It was his second straight multi-hit game.

Kim signed a four-year, $28 million contract with the Padres in 2021, and while there was some concern at the time of his signing that he would face stiff competition for the starting job, he has quickly established himself as an integral part of the team. He’s playing second base this season due to the acquisition of Xander Bogaerts, but last season he filled in nicely for Fernando Tatis Jr. at shortstop and also played good defense at third base, making him a San Diego fan favorite for his ability to hold his own anywhere in the infield. Whenever he comes up to bat at Petco Park, San Diego’s home stadium, San Diego fans cheer him on with “Awesome Kim!” chants.

This season, Kim has not only stepped up his defense, but also his bat. In the second half of the season, Kim is batting .355 (17-for-48) with four home runs, six RBIs, and a 1.092 OPS in 12 games, and is on pace for a career-high .323 (14-for-88) with 14 home runs, 37 RBIs, and an .810 OPS in 97 games 먹튀검증.

Kim Ha-seong’s offensive and defensive prowess has earned him increasing recognition from local media. On the 26th, he surpassed Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta) to take the top spot in the National League in bWAR (wins above replacement) according to Baseball Reference. Kim has a WAR of 5.1, while Acuña Jr. has a WAR of 5.0.

Even in the middle of the season, it’s surprising to see a Korean player at the top of the WAR rankings. In 2019, when Hyun-jin Ryu (then with the Dodgers) led the majors in ERA, he was only the 8th best pitcher in the National League (5.1) and 15th best pitcher in the majors in WAR.

Currently, only Shohei Ohtani (Angels, 6.9) has a higher WAR than Kim in the majors. Oh has a lower WAR than Kim as a hitter (4.6), but he also contributes to his team as a pitcher (2.3), so he’s ahead of Kim in the overall standings.

The players below Kim in the WAR rankings are a who’s who of stars. In addition to Acuña Jr, the list includes Freddie Freeman (Dodgers, 4.6), Corey Seager (Texas, 4.6), Mookie Betts (Dodgers, 4.3), Matt Chapman (Toronto, 4.3), and Gerrit Cole (Yankees, 4.2).

If Kim continues to perform as well as he has, it’s not out of the question for him to receive votes in the National League MVP voting. In Major League Baseball history, only Shin-Soo Choo (14th in 2010, 12th in 2013) and Ryu Hyun-jin (19th in 2019, 13th in 2020) have ever received MVP votes from a Korean player.

Kim is putting together one of his best seasons yet, and maintaining his hot hitting will be key to keeping him in the conversation. While his defense has been recognized for its consistency since his first year in the majors, his bat is at its best point since his debut. Fans are eager to see if he can finish the season on a high note.

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