Kim “Awesome Kim” Ha-Sung (28-San Diego Padres) has made history. He became the first Korean big leaguer to win the Rollins Gold Glove (GG), which is awarded to the most outstanding defensive player at a position.
Kim was honored as the National League (NL) utility player of the year at the Major League Baseball (MLB) 2023 Gold Glove Awards, announced today (June 6). He became the first South Korean player to win the honor. He is the second Asian player to win the award, joining Japanese baseball legend Ichiro Suzuki (retired), who has won the AL outfield award 10 times since 2001, and the first to win the award for an infielder.굿모닝토토
Kim was a finalist for the NL shortstop award last season (2022), but lost out to Dansby Swanson. This season, the AL’s leading shortstop, Zander Bogaerts, joined San Diego to play second base. After switching positions, he continued to play solid defense and unselfish play, earning him another spot on the short list of finalists (three) for the second base award. His defense at third base and shortstop also earned him a spot in the utility category, symbolizing the “all-around beast,” with over 150 innings played. The second baseman GG lost out to Nico Horner (Chicago Cubs), but won the utility GG award.
The GG is awarded solely on the basis of defense, not hitting ability. It is based on 75% of the votes cast by the managers of MLB’s 30 clubs and up to six coaches per team, and 25% of the votes cast by the defensive statistics developed by the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
With MLB leaders casting the ballots, name recognition could be a factor in the award. Among the nominees in the NL Utility category, MLB’s most recognizable star player, Mookie Betts (LA Dodgers), stood out. Tommy Edmon (St. Louis Cardinals), who has proven his multi-position versatility before Kim.
In Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), a measure of how many runs a player prevents with his defense, Kim totaled 16 across all three positions (second base, third base, and shortstop), well ahead of Betts (9) and Edmon (3). His OAA (Outs Above Average), a defensive metric that measures more outs than average, was also 9, with Edmon (9) and Betts (-4) not far behind.
Add to that the gritty nature of his play, with several hustle plays that resulted in spectacular plays. It seems he made a strong impression on opposing coaches evaluating his defense on the field. Having already been named a Gold Glove finalist two years in a row for a different position, Kim’s defensive talents have been recognized.
San Diego celebrated the GG award by posting a 46-second video of Kim’s play on their official social media accounts. In the video’s opening, Kim’s glove is edited to glow gold. Other social media accounts posted the phrase “gold itself” in Korean.
“The player from Bucheon City, South Korea, is the winner of the GG award for the best utility player,” said The Athletic, an American sports publication, in an interview with Kim before he returned home. “I want young Asian infielders to play in the MLB,” Kim said. It’s a big accomplishment for me personally, but I’m happy just to be able to show them the dream.”
Kim is also nominated for the Silver Slugger award, which recognizes the best offensive player at each position, in the NL Utility category. The awards will be presented on May 10.