“I was so bad my first year…” A grade I was ashamed of, and why there’s value in not winning a Silver Slugger.
The San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim didn’t win the Silver Slugger award. But just being named a finalist is an accomplishment.
MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, announced the Silver Slugger winners on Tuesday. Kim, who was a finalist for the National League Utility Player of the Year award, did not receive the Silver Slugger. Instead, Cody Bellinger of the Chicago Cubs won the award.굿모닝토토 도메인
The Silver Slugger is awarded to the league’s best hitter based on a variety of offensive metrics, including batting average, home runs, and RBIs. The winner is voted on by each team’s managers and coaches, and the Silver Slugger is also awarded to the best hitter at each defensive position.
This year, Kim set career highs in most offensive metrics. In 152 games, he batted .260 (140-for-538) with a .351 on-base percentage, .398 slugging percentage, 17 home runs, 60 RBI, 84 runs scored, and 38 stolen bases to establish himself as San Diego’s leadoff man.
That was unthinkable in his rookie season in the big leagues. After signing a four-year, $39 million max deal in 2021, Kim struggled in 117 games, batting .202 (54-for-267) with eight home runs, 34 RBIs, 27 runs scored, a .270 on-base percentage, a .352 slugging percentage and a .622 OPS. He struggled to adjust to the fastball, and his numbers were abysmal.
But in his sophomore season, Kim was a completely different player. With starting shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. out of the lineup due to a banned substance violation, Kim was on a steep learning curve. The more he played, the better he hit. In 150 games in 2022, he hit .251 (130-for-517) with 11 home runs, 59 RBIs, 58 runs scored, a .325 on-base percentage, a .383 slugging percentage, and a .708 OPS. In his third year, in 2023, he put up even better numbers and was honored as a Silver Slugger finalist.
A poor debut year was a catalyst for Kim’s growth, but at the time, he was weighed down by the pressure. He worried that his failure would hinder the future of his younger teammates who were trying to break into the major leagues.
“My performance was not good in the first year. I was paid a lot of money to go to the major leagues, but my grades didn’t come out. I was worried that I would have a bad influence on the juniors who dreamed of the major leagues. I realized that I had to do better. I want the younger generation to see the benefits of me, just as I saw the benefits of the Korean major leaguers who came before me,” he said.
Kim’s improvement is the result of hard work. Last winter, Kim worked hard to improve his long ball power. “I trained a lot in the offseason,” he says. I also corrected my form in various ways. I knew I had to show my long ball. I think I was successful this year. I will try to get better next year,” he said, explaining why his long-hitting has improved by leaps and bounds.
Although he didn’t win the Silver Slugger, Kim was recognized for his hitting ability. He also became the first Korean to win a Gold Glove. He also became the first Asian infielder to win a Gold Glove. Ichiro Suzuki, the first Asian Gold Glove winner, was honored in the outfield category. Kim had one of his hottest years in 2023.