Why play first base for a 143-game career catcher…Samsung’s big picture was half the battle
It worked half the time. That’s the story of catcher Kim Jae-sung (27-Samsung Lions), who started at first base for the first time in his career.
Kim Jae-sung started at first base in the sixth inning against the KT Wiz in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on July 17.
It was Kim’s first time playing first base since his professional debut. According to baseball statistics site ‘Statiz,’ Kim has played 433⅓ innings of defense in 94 of his 143 career games. All of them were at catcher. He never played first base or the outfield.먹튀검증
It’s not an easy position to play, especially since Samsung’s outfield has shown a lot of defensive insecurity in recent years, so stabilizing the defense is the biggest challenge. Putting Kim Jae-sung in the unfamiliar position of first base was a risky move.
Despite the risks, the reason for playing Kim Jae-sung at first base was clear. It was to strengthen the offense. This year, Kim is batting .200 (4-for-20), but last year he was a force with the bat, hitting .335 (54-for-161). The Samsung bench was eager to utilize Kim’s batting ability. “He’s been practicing at first base in spurts lately,” defensive coach Son Ju-in explained before the game.
Kim Jae-sung fulfilled the purpose of strengthening the batting lineup with three hits in four at-bats. Samsung Lions
The choice of the Samsung bench paid off. In the top of the second inning, Kim Jae-sung stepped to the plate for his first at-bat and lined a single to right field against William Cuevas. It was the first hit of the game.
In his second at-bat, he turned the tables. The team was held in check by Cuevas and didn’t generate much offense until the fourth inning. But Kim Jae-sung broke through the clog in the top of the fifth. He led off with a double down the left field line.
With the bases loaded and nobody out, Samsung tied the game at 1-1 with Kim’s RBI single. Then, with runners on first and second, Kim Hyun-joon singled and Jose Pirela doubled to center field to give Samsung a 3-1 lead.
Kim Jae-sung came up big again in his final at-bat. He took advantage of set-up man Park Young-hyun and hit a two-run double to left-center field to drive in a run. Kim’s final line on the day was 3-for-4 with a run scored and a run batted in.
His defense was a little disappointing. I did a good job, but I made a mistake at the end.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with his team leading 5-3, Anthony Alford hit a line drive to shortstop with two outs. Shortstop Lee Jae-hyun caught the ball and quickly threw to first base, but it was out of bounds, and first baseman Kim Jae-sung couldn’t make the catch and dropped it. The runner from second then rounded third base and scored, giving Samsung another run. Samsung was still within striking distance at 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning, so Alford’s extra-base hit may have been unfortunate.
Samsung is the only team with three catchers on the first team roster as of Sunday. The team has a number of veteran catchers, including An Bang-manim Kang Min-ho (38) and Kim Tae-gun (34). Will Samsung’s choice to utilize all of their catchers’ strengths pay off?