Has there ever been a leadoff like this in major league history?
San Diego Padres outfielder Ha-Sung Kim’s stock is soaring. Despite losing July Player of the Month honors to the Chicago Cubs’ Cody Bellinger, Kim is having the summer of his life, batting .337 (30-for-89) with five home runs, nine doubles, 21 RBIs, and a 1.000 OPS in the month of July.
In particular, he is showing off all of his hidden skills as he has been moved to the leadoff spot.
On March 3 at Coors Field against the Colorado Rockies, Kim started at first base and went 3-for-4 with a double, a home run, three RBIs, three runs scored, and two walks in an 11-1 victory. Kim opened the scoring in the first inning, pulling a 90.5-mph three-pitch fastball from Colorado starter Kyle Freeland for a solo shot over the left field fence.
The pitch was measured at a 29-degree launch angle, 103.1 mph bat speed and 425 feet of travel. It would have been a home run in any of the 30 major league ballparks, according to Statcast.
In his second at-bat in the third, he drew a walk and scored on Juan Soto’s two-run homer. In the fifth, he led off with a single to left, and in the ninth, he drew a walk and scored his third run on Fernando Tatis Jr.’s three-run homer.
With Kim spearheading the batting lineup, San Diego’s offense has been on fire. The Padres have scored a total of 102 runs in the second half of their 19 games to date. They are averaging 5.37 runs per game, which ranks fourth in the NL and second in the West. They are scoring 0.91 more runs per game than they did in the first half.
San Diego averaged 4.46 runs per game in the first half, 10th in the NL and fourth in the West. After struggling with a weak batting lineup in the first half of the season, the Dodgers have turned the corner. Much of the credit goes to Kim Ha-seong at No. 1. A “revolutionary” leadoff hitter is historically rare, with a tenacious leadoff arm, quick feet, a big bat when needed, and the utility to cover second, third, and shortstop with top-notch defense.
As MLB.com’s San Diego reporter AJ Cassavelle wrote on social media after the game, “Ha-Sung Kim hit his fourth leadoff home run of the season. He’s a true elite leadoff in almost every way,” and “He’s second in the league in pitches per at-bat and is batting .318 with a .425 on-base percentage and .566 slugging percentage as a leadoff hitter.
As of that day, Kim was second in the NL with a Baseball-Reference WAR (bWAR) of 5.4, behind only Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Atlanta Braves (5.5). They were tied for first place the day before, but Aquino Jr. took over the lead after going 3-for-4 with a home run, three doubles, three RBIs and four runs scored against the Los Angeles Angels.
Acuña Jr. is one of the best leadoff hitters in the major leagues. In 106 games this season, he is batting .335 (141-for-421) with 25 home runs, 64 RBI, 97 runs scored, 51 stolen bases and a 1.002 OPS. He leads the NL in runs scored, stolen bases, and OPS. The strongest MVP candidate ever. It’s safe to say that he and Kim are in a WAR race right now, and a race for the best leadoff spot.
In his major league debut in 2018, Acuña Jr. hit .293 with 26 home runs, 64 RBIs, 78 runs scored, 16 doubles, and a .917 OPS to win NL Rookie of the Year honors. He signed an eight-year, $100 million extension with Atlanta at the beginning of the season the following year. Acuña Jr. began Atlanta’s tradition of locking up key members of the team in years one and two.
Kim will also be eligible for an extension after this season or the first half of next year. He’s averaging more than $20 million per year, and he’s been playing well. 먹튀검증