Hyun Soo Kim was a name that few of us had heard of prior to December 23, 2015, when he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles to a 2-year, $7 million contract. Once the news broke, however, we all began to familiarize ourselves with the left fielder who spent 10 seasons with the Doosan Bears, from the Korean Baseball Organization.
Kim was slated to be the Orioles Leadoff man in a few graphics that came out prior to Spring Training, but once camp broke, it was realized that Kim may not have been the best fit for leading off a ballgame. In 9 full seasons with the Bears in the KBO, Kim stole 53 bases, and was caught 39 times.
Though his career with the Bears, Kim was a career .318 hitter, with 142 HR’s, 230 2B’s, an OBP of .406, and a slugging % of .488. Very, very impressive numbers.
The Orioles signing him was a steal.
Kim had played his first Spring Training game on March 1, went 0-3, and everybody thought it was just the jitters, and he’ll be fine. Well…. He didn’t pick up his first hit until March 10, breaking his 0-23 slump.
Was there concern? Maybe a little, but nothing too serious in my opinion. The numbers don’t matter in Spring Training, that’s why they have the word training at the end. I thought Kim would be fine, even though he ended the exhibition season with a .178 batting average and was practically benched indefinitely throughout the last week of March. Still, Kim stayed positive, and his professional attitude never failed.
Everybody knows the story of how Kim was approached to head to the Norfolk, and had refused to do so, so he practically forced his way onto the Opening Day lineup. I just think the guy knew he could play at the major league level, and didn’t want to accept his failure in March. Honestly, a lot of people thought with Kim refusing to go to the minors, it would hurt the ball club. Well, it actually has done just the opposite.
Jogging down the orange carpet on Opening Day, to a mixture of cheers, and boos, Kim tried to stay focused, calling Camden Yards, “fantastic”, and saying he was “deeply excited if a little nervous” to play in front of the new fans in Baltimore.
Playing in his first major league game on April 10, facing Jake Odorizzi, of the Tampa Bay Rays, Hyun Soo Kim tapped a weak grounder to the left side of the infield, and Odorizzi could not get to the ball in time. Kim had his first major league hit!
Hyun Soo Kim was able to reach base safely in his first 7 of 9 games, with 3 of those games being multi-hit efforts as well. In an 8-7 loss against the White Sox on April 30, Kim picked up his first double, and on May 29, Kim felt what it was like to have his first big league home run under his belt. He also felt what it was like to get the silent treatment for just a few seconds too.
Currently, Hyun Soo Kim is slashing .349/.423/.453, with 1 home run, and 4 runs knocked in. He’s currently not eligible to be a league leader in the batting average category, as he would need to have 3.1 plate appearances per team game to be qualified.
Let’s hope that Kim can continue his wonderful story in Baltimore from being a selfish guy who wouldn’t accept a demotion in March, to everybody’s South Korean hero, hopefully, come October.