Major League Baseball announced the winners of the 2023 American League and National League Gold Glove awards on Saturday (ET), with the San Diego Padres’ Ha-Sung Kim taking home the “golden glove” in the utility category.
Prior to the 2021 season, Kim signed a four-year, $39 million contract with the Padres to play in the major leagues. Kim struggled to adjust to the fastballs and changeups of major league pitchers in his first season, batting just .202 in his rookie campaign. The following year, however, he made the jump to the starting lineup after Fernando Tatis Jr. was sidelined with wrist surgery and a PED suspension.
Since making the jump, Kim has made significant strides offensively, hitting .251 with 11 home runs, 12 doubles and a .708 OPS in 150 games, but his defense drew more attention than his bat last season. Kim’s stellar play at the plate earned him a spot as a Gold Glove finalist at shortstop in the National League. While he didn’t win the award last year, he deserves applause for being a finalist. But this year, Kim stepped it up a notch.굿모닝토토 도메인
Kim took another leap forward this year, hitting .260 with 17 homers, 60 RBIs, 84 runs scored, 38 doubles, and a .749 OPS in 152 games. While he didn’t become the first Asian infielder to reach the 20-homer, 20-steal plateau, he was one of the best on the team, and this year he was named a Gold Glove candidate at second base and utility in the National League. While his presence at second base was prominent, his true strength was his ability to play a variety of positions.
Whenever Manny Machado or Xander Bogaerts, the “$280 million man,” had a day off, Kim would move to his primary position at shortstop or third base and play solid defense. As a result, he played 856⅔ innings at second base, 253⅓ at third base, and 153⅓ at shortstop this year. While he lost the second base honor to Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs), Kim won the Gold Glove in the “utility” category, playing every position in the infield except first base and catcher.
Kim’s Gold Glove win in the Utility category was met with praise from local media in the U.S. MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, highlighted the award in a feature article. “Coming into the season, there were very few question marks about Kim’s defense,” the site said, “He’s always been an elite defender, no matter what position he plays. The only question, if there was one, was ‘where will he play?'” the publication raved.
“He was pushed to second base with the arrival of Bogaerts, but moved back to shortstop when Bogaerts complained of wrist pain, and when Manny Machado took over the designated hitter role with a right elbow problem, Kim played third base,” said MLB.com. “Kim even began to change positions based on pitching tendencies. When we had a left-handed starter who induced a lot of ground balls, that meant he was at third base, and when we had a right-handed starter who induced a lot of ground balls, he was at second base.” Thumbs up for his versatility.
MLB.com continued, “Kim finished with meaningful pluses at all three positions. He was valuable at second base with a +10 DRS and at third base with a +3 DRS. The most impressive thing about him is how much he played second base before 2023 and how smoothly he made the switch.”
After becoming the first Asian infielder and Korean player to win a Gold Glove, Kim said, “I’m very happy to have won the Gold Glove I was expecting,” adding, “I’m most pleased that I was able to introduce Korean baseball to the Major Leagues and that I was able to provide a good motivation for Korean juniors who dream of playing in the Major Leagues. I will do my best to make Korean baseball shine even brighter.”
The Korean and American media were not the only ones to take notice of Kim’s Gold Glove win. Japan’s Baseball King and SporNichi Annex used Kim as the main photo in their articles about the Gold Glove winner. “San Diego’s Ha-Sung Kim was selected in the Utility category,” said Baseball King, “the first time an Asian infielder has ever won the award.”