Hyun Soo Kim with the Orioles in 2016. Photo by Keith Allison via Wikipedia.
On December 16, 2015, the Baltimore Orioles signed a 27-year old left fielder out of Seoul, South Korea, named Hyun Soo Kim. Kim’s 2-year contract with the O’s was for $7 million. He was no rookie – he already had 9 years of professional baseball experience, having played for the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization since 2007 (he actually had one plate appearance in 2006 as well). In those 9 years, Kim had a batted less than .300 in only 2 years: in 2007, he hit .273 and in 2012 he hit .291. In both 2008 and 2009 he hit .357. Naturally, O’s fans were really excited when the O’s signed him – I mean, he even came with his own theme song!
After a rocky start in Spring Training as he struggled to get used to Major League pitching, the O’s tried to get him to agree to starting out in the minors – which he rightfully refused per his contract (and his extensive experience). Unfortunately, some fans decided to boo him, though, when he ran onto the field on Opening Day. (Adam Jones and other players were not amused.) Rude fans notwithstanding, Kim made his Major League debut with the Baltimore Orioles on April 10, 2016, going 2 for 3.
In fact, in his first year with the O’s he appeared in 95 games and had a batting average of .302. With his 92 hits – including 6 home runs – he batted-in 22 runs. In addition, he was flawless in the outfield with a fielding percentage of 1.000 (in both 2016 and 2017). The season ended for the Orioles and Kim with a wild card defeat to the Toronto Blue Jays in October. (Unfortunately, both Kim and Jones were both harassed by Toronto fans during the game.)
Sadly, Kim saw less playing time with the Orioles in 2017. Faced with competition from younger players Trey Mancini and Joey Rickard, Kim did not play every day and his stats suffered. In 56 games with the O’s that year, Kim hit .232 with 1 home run and 14 RBI. The O’s traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies on July 28, 2017, for Jeremy Hellickson. Kim appeared in 40 games with the Phillies, batting .230. After the season he returned home to South Korea, still hopeful of returning to the U.S. for the 2018 season. He was granted free agency on November 2.
On December 19, 2017, Kim signed a 4-year contract with the LG Twins of the KBO for $10.7 million. There, he appears to have returned to his former self, hitting .362 in 2019 and .304 in 2019. So far in 2020, his batting around .381. And, apparently, he’s still popular enough to appear in commercials:
In fact, Kim is already hitting home runs in 2020 (as noted by one of my other favorite former Orioles, Adam Jones):
Hyun Soo Kim will always be my favorite KBO player! I’m sorry baseball didn’t treat better while you were here.