‘Asian superstar’ Kim Ha-Sung, no one else but Ichiro Ohtani, paces 8.2 WAR to $20m salary

San Diego Padres outfielder Ha-seong Kim has finally surpassed the ‘5’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) mark.토스카지노

Kim had a “career-high” performance against the Pittsburgh Pirates on 25 April, going 2-for-3 with two home runs, three RBIs, two runs scored and one walk.

Kim’s Baseball-Reference WAR, or bWAR, jumped to 5.1 from 4.8 the day before, finally surpassing 5. As of today, only three other players have a bWAR above 5: Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels (6.8), Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (5.1), and Kim. That’s second in the National League (N) and third in the majors overall.

It’s worth noting that Kim, who has been a defensive force to be reckoned with, has been making his mark on the offensive side of the ball since the summer. His defensive bWAR of 2.1 still leads both leagues combined. But his offensive bWAR of 3.3 is already approaching last year’s level (3.7).

After hitting his first multi-homer game of the season in Pittsburgh, Kim batted .349 with four home runs, six RBIs and nine runs scored in his next 11 games, and since June, he’s batting .301 (47-for-156) with nine home runs, 19 RBIs and 33 runs scored in 45 games.

If he keeps up his pace, Kim could finish the year with a bWAR of 8.2. Among Asian players, only Ohtani and Ichiro Suzuki have posted a season bWAR of 8.0 or higher. Ohtani posted 8.9 in 2021 and 9.6 last year, while Ichiro posted 9.2 in 2004. That means Kim is starting to look like an Asian superstar.

As of today, in 96 games, Kim is batting .270 (86-for-318) with 14 home runs, 37 doubles, 53 runs scored, 18 stolen bases, a .363 on-base percentage, a .447 slugging percentage, and an OPS of .810. His home runs and doubles are already career highs, and his hits, RBIs, and runs scored are sure to be career highs.

After finishing second in NL shortstop Gold Glove voting last year, Kim’s defensive prowess has earned him some respect this season. Among the 75 NL hitters with at least one plate appearance, he ranks 25th in batting average, 14th in slugging percentage, 0.34 on-base percentage, and 27th in OPS.

His status on the team is beginning to be viewed as that of Fernando Tatis Jr. AP Yonhap
All eyes now naturally turn to Kim’s next contract. After signing a “4+1 year” deal with San Diego in December 2020, he can become a free agent after next season.

While it’s difficult to accurately calculate Kim’s value as a free agent, we can find comparisons. Let’s look at the performance and salaries of fellow Asian hitters.

Masataka Yoshida of the Boston Red Sox, who broke into the big leagues this year, is batting .315 with 11 home runs, 51 RBIs, 52 runs scored, and an OPS of 0.870. Yoshida’s bWAR is 1.9, one-third of Kim’s. Signed to a five-year, $90 million contract, Yoshida’s salary this season is $15.6 million.

Boston Japanese slugger Masataka Yoshida has a bWAR of 1.9, one-third of Kim’s. AFP Yonhap
Chicago Cubs Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki is batting .262 with eight home runs, 33 RBIs, 35 runs scored and a .741 OPS in his second year with the team. His bWAR is just 0.5. His five-year, $85 million contract is worth $18 million this season.

This year’s salaries for hitters with a bWAR of 4.0 or higher include Acuna Jr. at $17 million, Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (4.6) at $35.5 million, LA Dodgers Freeman (4.5) and Mookie Betts (4.5) at $27 million and $25.4 million, Tampa Bay Rays Wander Franco (4.2) at $24.5 million, and Toronto Blue Jays Matt Chapman (4.2) at $12.5 million.

They signed long-term extensions as free agents or before becoming free agents. However, Franco, who debuted in 2021, signed an 11-year, $182 million extension early last year, so he won’t make more than $10 million until 2025.

If Kim signs an extension with San Diego right now or becomes a free agent after next season with a team that tender him an offer, he could easily command an average annual salary of $15-20 million.

‘Kim, the Padres’ undisputed MVP this year, hit a two-run homer in the first inning to lead off the fifth,’ said The Athletic. His second homer drew a loud but relatively quiet cheer from the fans who packed the stands.