Japanese baseball hero Ichiro Suzuki will participate in the Major League camp for the second consecutive year before entering the U.S. And throw away the ‘pearl typing’ that symbolizes oneself. He gave up his long-hitting power by himself. Ichiro’s average number of home runs in a season has decreased from 17 in Japan to eight in the major leagues. In Japan, there were two 20-home run seasons, including 1995, when he hit 25, while the best record in the Major League was 15 in a season. Instead, Ichiro played with accuracy and achieved the first 10 consecutive years of batting average and 200 hits with MVP in the first year of his debut.
Hideki Matsui, the pride of Japanese baseball, made Tokyo Dome a festival in 2002 with 50 home runs in Japan. It was a feat of Yomiuri’s fourth batter, approaching Osadaharu’s 55 record by five. However, Matsui decided to give up his home run to survive after entering the Major League the following year. Matsui, who became the fourth batter of the New York Yankees in 2003, hit 100 RBIs for the third consecutive year and became the World Series MVP in 2009, but his 16 home runs in his first year shocked the Japanese baseball community. This is why Ichiro chose Otani instead of Matsui as the first power heater that Japan exported to the U.S.
In 2020, Kim Ha-sung became the second shortstop in the KBO League to record 30 home runs and 100 RBIs. However, he was the first shortstop 스포츠토토 to steal 20 bases. Kim Ha-sung, a shortstop with the best slugging power in Korea, only hit eight home runs in 2021, his first year in the Major League. Last year, the number of home runs increased by three to 11, but the two were home runs against the fielder, who came up from a big gap. In Major League Baseball, when the score gap widens, it is often seen that ordinary fielders are thrown on the mound to save pitchers. Therefore, it actually recorded eight and nine in the first two years.
97 mph. Cy Young-class pitcher’s ball over the fence
The decrease in home runs by batters from the KBO League was not unfamiliar. Kim Hyun-soo recorded 28 home runs using Jamsil Stadium as his home in 2015, but only six in the Baltimore Camden Yaz, which he thought was small, and returned the following year after hitting one. Park Byung-ho, Korea’s leading home run hitter, recorded 52 in 2014 and 53 in 2015, but only 12 in the Major League in 2016. Park Byung-ho, who decided to return home after spending the following year in the minor leagues, recorded 43 again in his first year in Korea. Only Kang Jung-ho, who hit 40 home runs in Korea in 2014 and moved to the U.S., hit 15 in the first year and 21 the following year, recorded the number of home runs that could save face.
As Kim Ha-sung hit only three fastball home runs in his first year in the U.S. and failed to hit any balls over 95 miles in his second year, Kim Ha-sung was not expected to escape the limit of a defensive infielder, unlike Kang Jung-ho, who caught up with the speed of Major League pitchers. This is why he applauded the achievement of becoming the final three Gold Glove players in the shortstop category last year, but on the other hand, he was disappointed. Not a few people around Kim Ha-sung ordered him to give up long hits and increase his batting average mainly on short hits. This is because reduction orientation such as Ichiro and Matsui was considered the only way to live.
However, Kim Ha-sung made the opposite choice last winter. Kim Ha-sung, who lost 10kg at the end of the season last year from the start of the season, changed his training method so that he would not lose muscle mass. And he adjusted his swing with his personal coach to increase his slugging power.
In the first 70 games of the year, Kim Ha-sung hit five home runs, the same as last year’s number. His slugging percentage of 0.364 was worse than last year’s (0.383). It looked like I made the wrong choice. But at last the fruit began to open. Kim Ha-sung, who predicted a change in hitting a home run in the opposite direction of the field for the first time since his major league debut on May 25, began to pour out home runs after about a month of adjustment.
Kim Ha-sung has hit six home runs in 19 games since June 23, and his slugging percentage has soared to 0.581. During the same period, only three infielders, Rafael Devers (Boston), Manny Machado (San Diego), and Corey Seager (Texas), had a higher slugging rate than Kim Ha-sung, all of whom are top players with contracts worth more than $300 million. Kim Ha-sung, once called the “ball reader” for targeting only weak pitchers, now hits 97 miles per hour (156km) and the ball of a Cy Young pitcher.
“Kim Ha-sung positively influences San Diego’s engine, team”
He is the batter who throws the most balls in the Major League and the sixth-lowest batter in the ball outside the strike zone, and the value of fielder Kim Ha-sung has penetrated the roof as Kim Ha-sung, who has the highest defensive contribution in all positions, is equipped with high-quality long-hitting power. As of July 17, Kim Ha-sung’s contribution to victory (WAR) is ranked fifth in the overall Major League Baseball after Shohei Otani (LA Angels), Ronald Acuña (Atlanta), Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers), and Wander Franco (Tampa Bay). The other four are MVP candidates.
Kim Ha-sung, who is aiming for 20 home runs over 11 last year, is challenging another milestone. Kim Ha-sung, who has boasted of his outstanding stolen base skills since the KBO League, has already recorded 17, showing a 30 steal pace. Adding six more will break Choo Shin-soo’s record of 22 Korean players in 2010, allowing him to achieve 20 home runs and 30 steals. Choo Shin-soo has hit 20 home runs and 20 steals twice, but he has never achieved 20-30, and the same goes for Japanese players.
Kim Ha-sung’s 20-30 is more valuable because Kim Ha-sung is in charge of infielders, especially shortstop and second baseman, who have the biggest defensive burden. There are only two middle in-fielders (second baseman or shortstop) who have achieved this over the past decade, Gene Segura (2012) and Jose Altuve (2016, 2017), and Fernando Tatis Jr. is the only one in the San Diego Padres, which was founded in 1969. And on top of that, Kim Ha-sung is likely to add a golden glove that Tatis failed to win.
In San Diego, where it is becoming difficult to advance to the postseason even after making huge investments last winter, Kim Ha-sung is a support that is preventing the team from collapsing. Coach Bob Melvin, who has a headache due to the sluggish performance of high-paying players, praised Kim Ha-sung, saying, “Kim Ha-sung is the engine of San Diego, and he plays infectious games that have a positive impact on other players. Kim Ha-sung, who will be free when his four-year, $28 million contract ends next year, is the best player in San Diego for his annual salary.
Major League Baseball also began to feel Kim Ha-sung’s presence. Major League Baseball announced in March next year that the LA Dodgers, the most popular club, and the San Diego Padres, the team of Kim Ha-sung, will officially play the opening game in Seoul. It is the second time after Tokyo that an official opening game, not an event game, will be held in Asia. He leads his team like Park Ji-sung of Manchester United and Son Heung-min of Tottenham Hotspur. An infielder who boasts the best defense and has 20 home runs and 30 steals. Kim Ha-sung, who faced the wall of Major League Baseball, is making baseball fans’ imagination a reality.