South Korean Shortstop Kang Jung-ho Hits His 32th Home Run
Kang Jung-ho hit his 32nd HR today, making him the all-time single-season leader for shortstops in South Korea’s KBO. His team, the Nexen Heroes, play about 35 more games this season, so Kang should push his record into territory that will be hard for anyone to top in the near future.
Kang wants to play in MLB next year, and he’s making quite a case for himself. He is clearly the KBO’s best player this season. He turns 28 next May.
This is Kang’s best season with the bat by far, which isn’t surprising in that it’s his age 27 season. However, he has always been a good hitter for his position, batting over .300 in 2010 and 2012, hitting between 22 and 25 HRs in 2009, 2012 and 2013, and drawing a decent number of walks every year.
The question in my mind is whether Kang plays major league defense at shortstop. English-language Korean media reports say his defense is great and that MLB teams have interest in him, but I haven’t been able to find a scouting report on him that says anything about his defensive play. The KBO’s English language website provides no defensive statistics except errors, which makes it impossible to determine what kind of defense Kang plays.
Obviously, Kang’s offense will drop sharply if he plays in MLB next year. If he can play major league average defense at 2B, SS or 3B, it’s likely a major league team will sign him. If not, he stays in South Korea, or moves on to Japan’s NPB, where his chance of future stardom is very high.