Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Doosan swaps Hong for Kim with Lotte

In the Korean Baseball Organization, the Doosan Bears signed Hong Sung-Heon. In the KBO, when a team loses a free agent, like Lotte did in this case, you are allowed to take a player from the team that signed the free agent (the NC Dinos, as an expansion team, is exempt from this for this season). Lotte selected Kim Seung-Hee as compensation. This basically makes it a trade and I will look at it as such.

Kim is a short 31 year old (will turn 32 before the beginning of the 2013 season) right-handed pitcher that has pitched both out of the bullpen and as a starter. After struggling in 2011 with a 4.71 FIP, Kim bounced back slightly in 2012 but still only had a 1.63 K/BB. However, opponents had just a .671 OPS and .110 ISO. This was down from the .754 OPS from 2011, but a lot of this seems DIPs and BABIP related, as his strikeout rate actually dwindled.

Here is some video of his delivery:

As you can see, it is sort of violent, and Kim comes with an injury risk (the height can't help). Evidently, he lost some of his fastball velocity when he came back from mandatory military service. His fastball (this from KBO Data) sits anywhere between 86-91 MPH, along with an occasional two seamer that is slightly slower than this to get him grounders (over the last two years, he has given up more fly-balls than ground-balls, getting more grounders in 2011 but got my fly-balls in 2012). He also will throw a rare changeup in favorable counts. His main off-speed pitches are his forkball (73-82 MPH), a slider (73-84 MPH), and a curveball (67-77 MPH).

Hong is a 35 year old right-handed hitting left-fielder (that used to be a catcher). Once an elite hitter in the KBO, Hong took a big step back in 2011 (especially power wise) before coming back somewhat (though not all the way) in 2012. 

Here is a video of him hitting a homer:

Below are his spray charts since 2008:

If 2011's Range Factor is any indication, despite the age, he is a good left-fielder (or at least gets to more balls than average). However, his KBO Data scouting report has him as a below average defender who should mainly be a DH. As you would expect, he is a below average baserunner, getting caught stealing more than he stole in 2012. He had a couple different injuries in the middle of the year, limiting him to 113 games. Like Kim, he is on the wrong side of the aging curve (obviously even further), and it is unreasonable to expect him to expect him to return back to his older levels. However, he still has some offensive value. Kim's value as a pitcher is pretty marginal, so I don't think that Doosan lost too much by signing (again) Hong.

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