The San Diego Padres’ Kim Ha-seong is the favorite to become the first Korean major leaguer to win a Gold Glove this year.
Kim’s primary position is second base, but he has also played shortstop and third base depending on the team’s needs. As of Dec. 12, Kim has started 33 games at second base, 16 games at third base, and eight games at shortstop.
Last month, he played third base for about a month when Manny Machado went down with a left hand injury, and this month, he covered shortstop for five days when Xander Bogaerts complained of left wrist pain. It was said that San Diego was lucky that Machado and Bogaerts didn’t get hurt at the same time, highlighting Kim’s presence and value.
Kim finished second in last year’s National League (NL) shortstop Gold Glove voting behind Atlanta Braves’ Dansby Swanson (now of the Chicago Cubs). While he didn’t win the award, it was official recognition for his top-notch defense.
This year, the defense is even better. If the Gold Glove Awards were being handed out now, Kim would be the clear favorite for NL second baseman.
There are three main ways to evaluate a second baseman’s defense. They are the judgment and range, the strength and accuracy of the throw, and the stability of the catcher. How reliably a fielder handles a hit or throw to get an out, and how efficiently he performs his assists and putouts. Defensive performance can be quantified in terms of errors, fielding percentage, and various other statistics in sabermetrics.
Defensive WAR is a composite statistic of these defenses. According to Baseball-Reference, a major league statistics site, Ha-Sung Kim has been leading the major leagues in defensive WAR all season.
As of today, he has a defensive WAR of 1.9. That’s a whopping 0.6 ahead of Swanson (1.3) and the next closest group of Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco (1.3), Colorado Rockies catcher Elias Diaz (1.3), and Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier (1.3).
Thanks to his defense, Kim ranks 10th in 스포츠토토 both leagues and sixth in the NL with a combined WAR of 3.0. If you were voting for the MVP right now, he’d be on the ballot.
This is especially true because he’s on pace to post a “career” defensive WAR this season. WAR increases the more games you play. The same goes for defense. Naturally, starters have a higher WAR than backups. Games played and WAR have an inverse relationship.
If Ha-Sung Kim keeps up his current pace, he’ll have a 4.7 defensive WAR this year. That’s roughly what we can expect to see mathematically if he maintains the defensive performance he’s shown in his 61 games so far.
According to Baseball Reference, the highest single-season defensive WAR in history is 5.6, posted by Cleveland Knaps shortstop Terry Turner in 1906. New York Giants shortstop Art Fletcher in 1917 and Los Angeles Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons in 2017 are tied for second at 5.1.
They are followed by 1975 Baltimore Orioles shortstop Mark Bellinger (4.9), 1989 St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Najee Smith (4.8), 2015 Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier (4.6), and 1968 Baltimore third baseman Brooks Robinson (4.5). That raises the possibility that Kim could join them in defensive WAR.
Simmons, Bellinger, Smith, Kiermaier, and Robinson, who played since the Gold Glove was established in 1957, all won the Gold Glove in their respective years. Bellinger was the dominant shortstop of the 1970s, while Smith, one of the greatest defensive players of all time, was dubbed the “Wizard of Oz” for winning 13 consecutive NL shortstop Gold Gloves from 1980-1992. Simmons also won four Gold Gloves with Atlanta and the Angels in the 2010s.