San Diego Padres pitcher Ha-Sung Kim has won the Gold Glove, and local media in the U.S. are showing their appreciation.
Major League Baseball (MLB) announced the winners of the 2023 Rawlings Gold Glove on Saturday. Winners have been selected for every position in the American and National Leagues, starting with pitching and including the newly created utility category.
The Major League Gold Glove winners are determined by looking at defense alone. On-field evaluations were paramount, with 75% of the votes coming from club coaching staffs and 25% from defensive metrics provided by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
Kim was nominated for National League Second Base and Utility Player of the Year. He faced stiff competition from Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs) and Bryson Stott (Philadelphia Phillies) for the second base award, but the gold glove went to Nico Horner. His 8.3 Defensive Runs Defended (SDI), developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), was the highest among the contenders as of Aug. 14 (and has since been withheld). However, he also appears to have fallen behind in the coaches’ poll.
After a disappointing year at second base, Kim made up for it in the utilities sector. The SDI metric for utilities is not publicly available because it is calculated by a separate formula. However, in DRS (Defensive Runs Saved), a metric that combines position-specific runs saved and overall defense, Kim was +16, higher than Betts (+9) and Edmon (+3). He was also second in OAA (Outs Above Average) at +9, behind only Edmon (+10).
This season, Kim commanded every position in the infield except first base. He played the most games at second base (106 games and 856⅔ innings), followed by third base (32 games and 253⅔ innings) and shortstop (20 games and 153⅔ innings), where his all-around defense earned him the utility award.
This is the first Gold Glove award for a South Korean player. In 2012, Shin-Soo Choo was a finalist in the outfield category, but did not win the award. He is only the second Asian player to win the award after Ichiro Suzuki. He is also the first Asian infielder to win the Gold Glove.
At the start of the season, Ha-Sung Kim’s position was unclear. After starting at shortstop last season, Kim was forced to move to second base when San Diego signed free agent shortstop Xander Bogaerts. At the time, however, local media outlets had a positive message. MLB.com wrote, “Kim is making a position move. He played good defense at shortstop in the 2022 season and should prove his worth at second base.”
The move was successful. The move to second base coincided with an improvement in his hitting. In 152 games this season, Kim batted .260 (140-for-538) with 17 home runs, 60 RBI, 84 runs scored, 38 doubles, and a .749 OPS. He missed the 20-homer, 40-steal mark due to a season-ending injury, but his defense and offense made up for it.
The local media also responded favorably to Kim’s Gold Glove win. In September, Kim told The Athletic, “The entire Korean and Asian baseball community and young kids are watching me. They see me playing the infield position, and many of them dream of coming here,” he said.
“Of course, it’s a big accomplishment for me personally, but I think I’ll be happier just being able to show the kids in Asia that they can play the infield,” he said. “There are a lot of doubts about Asian infielders, like the low success rate in the big leagues. To be someone who helps them not to lose their dreams, that’s the most important thing to me.”
This was reiterated by The Athletic, which wrote, “The dreams of the children will be even clearer now that Kim Ha-seong, the best infielder in South Korea, has been named the National League Gold Glove winner.” 캡틴토토 도메인
The San Diego Union-Tribune also noted that “Kim, who won three consecutive Gold Gloves in the KBO, has found success in the major leagues.”
Now, Kim is looking to become the first South Korean to win a Silver Slugger award. The award is given to the most offensive player at each position, and Kim is nominated in the NL utility category. The Silver Slugger Award ceremony will be held on May 10.