With Opening Day less than a week away, we’ll take a look at a member of the 2017 Orioles every day as they try to return to the postseason for the fourth time in six years.
OF Hyun Soo Kim
Opening Day age: 29
Contract status: Under contract through the 2017 season
2016 stats: .302/.382/.420, 6 HR, 22 RBI, 36 R, 1 SB, 346 PA
Why to be impressed: Despite a tumultuous spring in which the Orioles attempted to send the Korean newcomer to the minors, Kim led the 2016 club in on-base percentage and settled nicely into the No. 2 spot in the order as the year progressed. He also provided a breath of fresh air in a group full of strikeout-prone hitters with the highest contact rate and lowest strikeout rate among Baltimore regulars.
Why to be concerned: Kim’s range and arm are limited in left field as he was worth minus-13 defensive runs saved as a rookie, which was the worst mark on the club behind even Mark Trumbo. He also posted an ordinary .738 OPS after the All-Star break despite a fortunate .320 batting average on balls in play after producing an .864 OPS with an unsustainable .370 BABIP in the first half.
2017 outlook: The Orioles couldn’t have asked for more from Kim after being so down on him initially, but it’ll be interesting seeing if he can even approach his 2016 first half with clubs having more of a book on him. With Kim receiving just eight spring at-bats against lefties, Buck Showalter appears set to platoon him with Joey Rickard or Craig Gentry, but he should again contend for the club’s OBP lead.
Not-so-scientific projections for 2017: .290/.360/.432, 8 HR, 43 RBI, 56 R, 2 SB, 447 PA