Ha-seong Kim (29, San Diego Padres) once again realized the limits of his chronic fastball problem. Even so, he showed why he survived as a major league starter despite clear limits.메이저놀이터
Kim Ha-seong started as the 7th and shortstop in the 2023 American Professional Baseball Major League (ML) home game against the Seattle Mariners held at Petco Park in San Diego, California on the 8th (Korean time), recording 1 hit in 5 at-bats, 1 run and 3 strikeouts. did.
In the 4th at-bat in the 7th inning, he created a hit to the left against Chris Flexen, a native of the KBO, and continued his no-hit streak. He hit a fastball at 91.5 miles per hour (about 147.3 km). In the next at-bat, he hit Flexen’s 84.5 mph (about 136 km) cutter and retreated with a straight hit to the shortstop, but the ball itself was not bad.
The problem was the previous three at-bats against Seattle starter George Kirby (25). Kirby is a fastball pitcher who throws a ball as fast as 99 mph. On this day, he also induced 11 missed swings with a fast ball with a maximum speed of 98.2 miles (about 158 km) and an average speed of 96.9 miles (about 155.9 km). It collapsed early with 3⅔innings, 11 hits (1 home run), 3 strikeouts and 5 runs against the San Diego hard hitting line, but it was as strong as Ha-seong Kim.
The two strikeouts recorded that day were also against Kim Ha-seong. In the first meeting in the second inning, he struck out on a swing with a fast ball of 96.4 miles per hour (about 155.1 km) and in the third inning at 96.6 miles per hour (about 155.4 km). Matt Brash, who came to the mound following Kirby, is also a fastball pitcher who throws a fast ball with a maximum speed of 98.8 miles per hour (about 159 km). Kim Ha-seong met Brash in the 5th inning and was put on a disadvantageous ball count with 2 strikes and 0 balls in an instant with a fast ball, and hit the bat with a slider at 90.9 miles per hour (about 146.3 km) on the low-falling 5th pitch.
Kim Ha-seong, who becomes weak when he meets only a fastball, is not a strange scene. Even before entering the major leagues, Ha-seong Kim’s fastball response was considered the key to success, and it has been a constant problem for the past two years. Recognizing this, Kim Ha-seong also corrected his batting form through a personal batting coach with Lee Jung-hoo (25, Kiwoom Heroes) from the beginning of this year, but has not yet produced clear results.
The recurring problem feels unfortunate because he made a soft landing as a starting infielder in the major leagues by producing above-average performances even when he was unable to cope with the fastball. This year, Kim Ha-seong has a batting average of 0.246 in 58 games, 5 home runs, 19 RBIs, 24 points and 11 stolen bases, an on-base percentage of 0.340, a slugging percentage of 0.383, an OPS of 0.723, and wRC+ (adjusted scoring production) of 105, showing above-average batting. Not to mention the defense that is considered a strong National League second baseman Gold Glove candidate and the running ability that thrills fans.
The reason why he can be sent out as the main infielder even though he can’t cope with the fastball is because he has a pioneering eye. This season, Kim Ha-seong boasts a top-notch pioneering plan with the top 19% of the major league walk rate and the top 27% of whiff% (missing swing rate) based on Statcast. The rate of swinging misses on manned pitches is extremely low, ranking top 9% in the major leagues.
In particular, Kim Ha-seong this season has 28 misses on balls out of the strike zone, tying with Stephen Kwan (Cleveland) for 6th among major league players who have completed the required at bats. As soon as he made his debut last year, Kwan competed for the batting title and was evaluated as excellent in his pioneering skills and contact skills. This is the reason why it is hard to see Kim Ha-sung’s absurd swing. On this day, he struggled with 3 strikeouts, but just let 6 out of 9 balls out of the zone.
As such, Kim Ha-seong is weak against fastballs (batting average of 0.221), but he picks out balls well, hits breaking balls (batting average of 0.292) well, and is not fooled by balls outside the strike zone. If he can only develop his ability to cope with fastballs, he will be able to go up a notch by combining his existing strengths.