메이저놀이터Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) and Kim Ha-seong (28-San Diego Padres), who won the Korea-Japan doubleheader, played fantastic defence. His manager was also full of praise.
Kim batted first and second in the lineup for the Padres’ 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) home game against the Los Angeles Angels at Petco Park in San Diego, California, USA, on 5 May, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and a walk.
In his first at-bat, Kim drew a walk against Ohtani. He was particularly embarrassing in the third inning, as he was out on a grounder to shortstop in both of his first two at-bats. But in the bottom of the fifth, with the bases loaded, he lined a 95.3 mph (153.3 km/h) fastball from Ohtani for a three-run, bullet-like hit.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, after getting a pitch to the body from reliever Herrardo Reyes, Kim stole second base off the next batter, Juan Soto. It was his 14th stolen base of the season. He then came home to score on Manny Machado’s single, but it was his defence that proved his worth on the day. With two outs in the top of the fourth inning, Mike Moustakas hit a hard line drive that bounced off the glove of first baseman Jake Cronenwirth. As Kim chased the ball, he stopped dead in his tracks and blocked it with his bare hands. He then made a neat throw to first base to get the runner out. It was a good defence that both Cronenweth and pitcher Joe Musgrove applauded.
It was just a foreshadowing. Leading 8-1, San Diego gave up four runs in the bottom of the ninth to get within striking distance. Closer Josh Hader was brought in, but with the bases loaded and two outs, Kim chased down a shallow fly ball hit by Taylor Ward and made a perfect catch that curved to his right. San Diego secured an 8-5 victory, and Kim’s defence was widely praised for saving the day. San Diego’s official social media account shared a photo of Heather smiling at Kim, writing, “Heather is watching him like we are watching Kim,” with an emoji of a heart in her hand. “San Diego doesn’t have an infield All-Star,” said A.J. Casaville of MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, adding, “It’s weird. Kim deserves it.”
The manager was also surprised. “I think he’s the best defender in the league,” San Diego manager Bob Melvin said, according to MLB.com. “It was a tremendous play (in the top of the ninth) to close out the game, and not many people can do that,” he said.Last year, Kim was named one of three finalists for the National League Gold Glove at shortstop, and his defence has continued to improve since moving to second base. This season, he has a +11 OAA (Outs Above Average), the latest defensive metric that measures how many more outs a player makes than the league average, which is the highest among National League players.
As a result, Kim’s chances of winning a Gold Glove have been on the rise. MLB.com statistician Mike Petriello says, “It’s hard to make a serious Gold Glove argument yet, but Kim and Fernando Tatis Jr. could be in the mix. They could even win actual Gold Gloves.” If Kim does win the Gold Glove, he will be the first Korean player to do so.