It’s happened, and it’s happened to every baseball fan. With more than 60 percent of the 2023 Major League Baseball regular season digested, Ha-Sung Kim (28, San Diego Padres) has moved into sole possession of first place in the National League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). His insane hitting pace in the second half has left even Ronald Acuña Jr. (26-Atlanta Braves), the No. 0 candidate for National League MVP, in the dust.
CBS Sports’ Danny Vietti introduced the new National League (NL) bWAR standings on social media on Sunday (Aug. 27). bWAR, which is compiled by Baseball Reference, is a measure of how much a player contributes to team wins over a league-average hypothetical player. Korean big leaguer Kim Ha-seong led the NL in bWAR after 26 games.
Kim, who was tied for second place with Acuña Jr. the day before, moved into sole possession of the top spot with 5.1, ahead of even Acuña Jr. at 5. Behind him are players like former MVPs Freddie Freeman (4.6) and Mookie Betts (4.3), both of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Freeman was the 2020 NL MVP and Betts was the 2018 American League (AL) MVP.
Looking at the entire major leagues, the only player above Kim is Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) with a 6.9 bWAR, and even then, Ohtani’s 6.9 bWAR is a combination of two-hit performances, making him first among position players (i.e., fielders). A player with a bWAR of 5 or more in a season is considered more than just a starter on a team, but an All-Star caliber player who represents the league that year, a number that most major leaguers struggle to achieve in a single season.
Among Korean big leaguers, Choo Shin-soo (SSG Landers) has done it twice, in 2009 (5.5) and 2010 (5.9) with the Cleveland Indians, and Ryu Hyun-jin (Toronto Blue Jays) has done it once, in 2019 (5.1), when he finished second in the Cy Young Award with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Even the grizzled eight-year major league veteran, Ji-Man Choi (Tampa Bay), has a career bWAR of around 5.
It’s even more remarkable that he’s still playing. At his current pace, Kim could end up with a bWAR of 8.1, which is unheard of for a Korean big leaguer. Not only would it surpass Shin-Soo Choo’s record, but it would also mark the highest bWAR in the National League since 2019 MVP Cody Bellinger (Chicago Cubs) posted 8.6. Additionally, a bWAR of 8 or higher is considered MVP-caliber, so it’s not out of the question for him to receive National League MVP votes.
Through 27 games, Kim’s batting numbers look ordinary: .272 with 14 home runs, 37 RBIs, 53 runs scored, 19 doubles, a .364 on-base percentage, a .446 slugging percentage and an .809 OPS in 97 games.
This is especially true when you consider that Acuña Jr. is batting .328 with 23 homers, 58 RBIs, 87 runs scored, 48 doubles, a .407 slugging percentage, a .571 OPS, and a 0.978 OPS in 99 games, and Ohtani is batting .299 with 36 homers, 77 RBIs, 77 runs scored, 12 doubles, a .398 slugging percentage, a .668 OPS, and a 1.066 OPS in 99 games.
His similar contributions despite his unfavorable batting numbers come from his world-class defense, which has him in the conversation for the National League Gold Glove at second base this year. That’s because defense is one of the ways you contribute to your team. Kim currently ranks tied for fifth in the majors and tied for third in the NL with a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved, a measure of how many runs a defender prevents) of +12, and tied for 12th in the majors and tied for seventh in the NL with a OAA (Outs Above Average, a measure of how many more outs a defender makes than the league average) of +8.
His bWAR reflects his DRS, which is a measure of his defense. As a result, Kim leads the majors in Defensive WAR at 2.1, unlike Acuña Jr. and Ohtani, who rank outside the top 10. But defense only goes so far, and without an explosive offense, Kim would never be able to bridge the gap between the two MVP candidates.카지노
Kim has been showing off his batting talent since late June, when he took over as the team’s primary leadoff man. In the second half of the season, he has put up league-best numbers, batting .354 with four home runs, six RBIs, three doubles, a .446 slugging percentage, a .646 on-base percentage, and a 1.092 OPS in 12 games, making him a serious MVP contender.