Baltimore Orioles: It’s time to consistently see Hyun Soo Kim in the lineup

Mar 2, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim (25) against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Sarasota, FL, USA; Baltimore Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim (25) against the Minnesota Twins at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Baltimore Orioles second-year outfielder, Hyun Soo Kim, could start to see his playing time increase.

The Baltimore Orioles are getting ready to open a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. As Roster Resource and MASN reporter Roch Kubatko have reported for about a week, the Rays will send three straight right-handed pitchers to the mound.

Buck Showalter has a habit of benching South Korean left-hander, Hyun Soo Kim when the Orioles take on left-handed pitchers. However, that shouldn’t be the case for the upcoming series and the first game of the New York Yankees series at Yankee Stadium.

In the final year of his two-year deal with the Orioles, Kim has just 24 plate appearances under his belt in nine games (five starts). It’s also worth noting that Kim has played innings 1-through-9 in just one game. That was on April 20 versus the Cincinnati Reds.

Kim went 0-for-3 with a walk in that game.

To date in the majors, Kim has struggled against left-handed pitching

In his brief stint with the Orioles, Kim has not progressed against left-handed pitchers. He’s appeared against lefties just 23 times, in 16 games through 2016, and this season.

Last season, he didn’t pick up a hit in 17 official at-bats. However, he walked four times. He scored two runs and struck out four times.

His first hit against a left-handed pitcher didn’t come until this season. It was yesterday off Boston Red Sox reliever, Fernando Abad. That single scored catcher, Welington Castillo from third, cutting the Red Sox lead to 6-2.

All things considered here, Kim is having the best success of his Major League career when facing left-handers.

Of course, I’m facetious here, but you cannot discredit his 1-for-1 in one appearance to start the season against LHP.

It’s time to give Kim the opportunity to have consistent at-bats

I know last season against LHP was a struggle for Kim, but the guy had as many official at-bats as starting outfielders do, sometimes in just four games.

Hardly enough time to judge performance over a 162-game season.

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I wanted to know how Kim did in the Korean Baseball Organization when facing LHP. Surely, his poor LHP at-bats had to be nervousness from playing in America.

I consulted with Sung Min Kim, a blogger from The Hardball Times, for assistance in finding Kim’s numbers vs. LHP in the KBO.

What Sung Min was able to give me in return was remarkable. Seen here from KB Report, Kim’s number’s versus left-handers in the KBO were outstanding.

What? You’ve never taken Korean before? Neither have I. But, with Sung Min’s assistance, and a translation machine I was able to break those statistics down.

In 2013, Kim hit .350/.350/.404 in 197 appearances versus left-handers. He had three home runs, drove in 33 runs, walked 16 times, struck out 38, and had six doubles.

The next season, in 185 appearances, Kim hit .369/.449/.490. Again, he hit three home runs, drove in 28 runs, walked 22 times, struck out 17, and had ten doubles.

Finally, last season, Kim had 195 appearances versus lefties and hit .333/.421/.506. Yikes! He had seven homers, knocked in 32 runs, walked 27 times, struck out 16, and had seven doubles.

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It appears that Hyun Soo Kim CAN hit left-handed pitchers when given the opportunity.

For the Orioles on-base percentage leader in 2016, it’s time to give him some playing time not only against right-handers but versus lefties too!