The San Diego Padres have a special treat in store for their game against the Miami Dolphins at Petco Park on Sunday. The team will give away a bobblehead of Kim Ha-seong 스포츠토토(28, San Diego), who has become an “idol” of San Diego fans.
A bobblehead is a doll modelled after a player’s face and characteristics. Before the season, each team announces its annual giveaway plan, usually featuring a star player who represents the team. The idea is to create a bigger impact with fans and get them to the stadium. There are usually no strings attached, and they are given away on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of bobbleheads produced varies from 30,000 to 40,000 or more.
The fact that a bobblehead of Kim Ha-seong was produced is significant. It’s the club’s way of saying that he’s the face of the team and that he’s become a star. It’s also a clear indication that San Diego went the extra mile with this bobblehead. The helmet is removable. It’s a detail you won’t find on other players’ bobbleheads. In a video released by the club, Kim Ha-seong was also impressed by the detail of the helmet.
The helmet embodies Kim’s passionate play. Kim always plays with dedication. He always plays to the best of his ability and isn’t afraid to put his body on the line. As a result, his helmet often comes off at the plate or in front of the bases. His job is to retrieve it. The Kim Ha-Sung bobblehead is a witty representation of this. “I like it. It’s like me,” he said with a smile.
The local media got in on the joke. “The first 40,000 fans to enter the stadium tonight will receive a bobblehead of Kim wearing a removable helmet,” the San Diego Union-Tribune, a leading local media outlet, wrote in a story announcing the giveaway on the 23rd, adding, “It’s very appropriate since his helmet rarely stays on his head anyway.” Teammate Blake Snell said, “I like it. Teammate Blake Snell was equally excited, saying, “I’m getting two.”
But Kim is already getting the same cheers as the San Diego fans. The chorus of “Haseong Kim” every time he steps up to the plate and every time he takes a pitch has become routine. It has become a part of the Petco Park culture. Fans have come to know Kim’s dedication and sincerity in playing hard and sincerely, but first of all, his performance this year is so good. He doesn’t just play hard, he plays baseball well. He is a player that fans can’t hate.
Kim Ha-seong, who had a great game against Miami on the 22nd.
San Diego players being bobbleheaded this year. They are the stars of the team ⓒMLB.com
Until the 22nd, Kim was batting .280 with a .370 on-base percentage, 17 home runs, 28 doubles, and an OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 0.819 in 121 games of the season. Just when you think you don’t need to discuss Kim’s defensive prowess anymore, add in this offensive production and it’s safe to say he’s been one of the best centre fielders in the league this season. His defence has been one of the best in the league, and now he’s added power and long balls to the mix.
Kim’s true value can be seen in his Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which is calculated by various outlets. According to Baseball Reference, Kim is ranked fourth on the list, behind Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers), and Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta). His WAR is already over 6.0. At this rate, he could break the record for a Korean player.
According to FanGraphs, which is considered more reliable than Yasoo, Kim is 11th overall in the Major Leagues and 5th in the National League. According to Fangraphs, only four National League players have a higher WAR than Kim: Betts, Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Francisco Lindor (New York Mets). Kim’s season has been nothing short of spectacular.
The local media has also been raving. “What was once essentially unthinkable is now undeniable and probably unalterable,” the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote on the 23rd. Kim is San Diego’s most valuable player in 2023,” the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote. Kim was the team’s MVP for the season. In terms of actual WAR, he leads the team, even over Juan Soto.
The outlet said, “This is actually not good. It should have been Manny Machado, Juan Soto, or Fernando Tatis Jr.”. It’s a sarcastic reference to the fact that all of the players who were supposed to be MVPs have been underperforming and the team’s performance has suffered as a result. However, the ‘San Diego Union-Tribune’ emphasised that ‘Kim has emerged as one of the most exciting players in the major leagues’.
Kim Ha-seong celebrates after hitting a double ⓒYonhap/AP
Kim celebrates his 18th home run of the season ⓒYonhap/AP
The San Diego Union-Tribune attributed Kim’s offensive surge to his ability to work out of counts after 2S, and the fact that he’s hitting his 95+ mph fastball more than ever before. “He’s reducing his miss rate, taking more pitches, and heading in the right direction,” said the San Diego Union-Tribune, “and that’s made him stronger.
Meanwhile, on the 23rd, the day he presented his bobblehead, Kim was also in the starting line-up. He’s now batting in his familiar number one spot, but today he’s batting third. His opponent is left-hander Jesus Luzado. He is 8-8 with a 4.13 ERA in 25 games this season. Kim is 1-for-5 against Luzado in his career.