Hyun Soo Kim knew he could play in the major leagues. Even after going hitless in his first 23 at-bats in spring training. Even after the Orioles wanted him to start the season at Norfolk, which he wasn’t contractually obligated to do, Kim stayed with the team and endured the indignity of being booed on Opening Day.
In the season’s first month, Kim started only four games, and while he had a .600 average, there was still widespread skepticism about his ability.
After what could turn out to be the biggest hit in this Orioles season, the skepticism should be gone.
Kim is 6-for-9 as a pinch hitter, one of only four active major leaguers to begin their careers that well. He didn’t pinch hit in South Korea. Kim played all the time, and though his playing time hasn’t been as regular in September, he’s the trust of his manager.
His RBIs have been few and far between, but Kim provides something the Orioles offense doesn’t display much of: On-base ability.
Kim’s on-base percentage of .382 is by far the Orioles’ highest, and his .810 OPS, is higher than all his teammates except for Manny Machado, Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez.
He’s even begun displaying power. His two-run home run on Sunday accounted for the Orioles’ only runs, and his two-run pinch hit home run on Wednesday night was a work of art.
Fouling off four pitches, Kim waited for one he could handle and sent it into the Orioles’ bullpen for a 3-2 lead.
Kim has six home runs, and with the knowledge he’s gained from playing here, he should do even better next year.
He hopes there are many more games to play before next year.