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Jung-ho Kang's total lack of precedent

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The second-year Pirate really has no comps. It makes him hard to prognosticate.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of my favorite websites is It notes commonly used storytelling techniques in TV shows. As a wannabe fiction writer, it helps me learn what to avoid, what clichés to stay away from.

For example, I'll be damned if I ever write a scene where a character is saying bad things about another character, only for the other character to pop up in the background and the first one to say "...he's right behind me, isn't he?" It's overused. It's trite. As a writer, you want to seek originality.

In fantasy, it's sort of the opposite. We want to know what to expect. We like Mike Trout and Paul Goldschmidt because they perform more or less predictably. Meanwhile, exactly which Chris Davis are we going to get this year?

Even venturing out from specific players, we have types. Rookies come into the league and have a year or two of improvement, a decent peak, then a decline. Veterans with a track record more or less continue with that track record, even if there was a one-year blip before that. Guys do what they do.

So what, then, do we do with Jung-ho Kang?

You can describe Kang as a rookie who put up a .287/.355/.461 slash line as a third baseman/shortstop, 15 homers, 4.0 bWAR. Only, that really isn't fair, not with the fact that Kang was a 28-year-old rookie fresh over from Korea, not a fresh-faced 20-year-old. Kang did all that on a ridiculously team-friendly $2.5 million deal, showing that, hell, no one knew what to expect out of him coming over last year.

So were we wrong about Kang? Was he a superstar that fell through the international cracks? That depends on what you think of his .344 BABIP and 16.9 percent HR/FB rate last year. Both numbers would normally cry out for regression, except for the fact that, again, we have no Kang baseline to which to compare the numbers.

And then, of course, there's his injury. Kang famously had his leg something only a step or two shy of blown off by Chris Coghlan in a collision at second base back in September. Reports have him participating in some baseball activities now, which is pretty neat, but he's not really, you know, running. Running tends to be pretty important for baseballing.

Kang doesn't fit into any of our neat little pigeonholes that we have for baseball players. He's not a trope. If you look at his numbers, his background, his short track record and decide whole-heartedly something about Kang, it'd be difficult to say you were definitively wrong.

Ultimately, Kang comes in 15th in our consensus rankings, with six of seven rankers having him in the 13-15 range. He's the last of the tier of can-start-if-you're-needy shortstops. And I'm not just saying that; our rankings have a point system, as rankings systems do, and Kang at 15th is almost a full 40 points clear of Alcides Escobar, ranked next at 16th. Basically, if you end up with Kang (or Elvis Andrus or Jose Reyes, the two right above him), you're basically fine; end up with Escobar (or Jean Segura, or Ketel Marte), you will probably spend a while looking for improvement.

There's no precedent for Kang. He's not a trope. If he does as well in 2016 as he did in 2015, we have him ranked too low. If he was a fluke, a BABIP- and HR/FB-infused one-year wonder and/or a sacrifice to a leg injury, we have him overranked. Kang's 2016? Make your best guess, because I'm stumped.