San Diego infielder Ha Sung Kim, 28 (pictured), has failed in his bid for the Silver Slugger. The Silver Slugger award recognizes the best hitting player at each position in Major League Baseball’s (MLB) two divisions.굿모닝토토
The winners of the Silver Slugger Award, which is voted on by the managers and coaches of MLB’s 30 clubs, were announced Tuesday. Kim was a finalist in the National League Utility (All-Weather) category, but did not win the award. Chicago Cubs outfielder Cody Bellinger was selected. Bellinger split time between first base and the outfield this season, hitting 26 home runs and posting an OPS of .881. Kim played second, third, and shortstop, hitting 17 home runs with an OPS of 0.749.
While he didn’t win a Silver Slugger award, Kim had one of the best seasons of his career. On June 6, he won the National League Gold Glove for Utility, recognizing his top-notch defense. It’s the first time an Asian infielder has won a Gold Glove.
His batting performance also earned him a Silver Slugger nomination. The second baseman ranked fifth in the National League in both home runs and OPS (in qualifying at-bats). Kim stood out for his walks, patience at the plate, and ability to make contact. His 17.7 whiff rate was the 16th lowest in the league. His Chase%, which is the percentage of swings at pitches outside the strike zone, was 20.4, the 14th lowest in the league, indicating that he picked his pitches well and made good contact once he got the bat up. This explains why Kim’s batting average has improved this season, even though he hasn’t changed much from last year in terms of quality of contact. In his third year in the MLB, Kim has learned how to survive as a hitter.
With foresight and patience, Kim has consistently harassed pitchers. From 3.71 pitches per at-bat in 2020, his final year in the KBO, to 3.97 pitches per at-bat in 2021 and 2022, his pitch count has increased every year since. From 3.97 in 2021 to 4.05 in 2022 to 4.36 this season.
His struggles since August have been disappointing. After hitting .279 with an OPS of 0.821 through July, he hit just .229 with an OPS of 0.629 in August. Given his solid batting performance this season, opposing pitchers are likely to be more aggressive next year and will be looking to exploit his weaknesses. It’s a new challenge for Kim to overcome after his best year yet.