Sometimes a player comes along for the Orioles where no matter how well he plays or how poorly, you just like the guy. There's just something about him that makes you willing to shrug off his setbacks and celebrate a little extra for his successes. I don't know about you, but Hyun Soo Kim was one of those guys for me, so I was sad to see the Orioles ship him to Philadelphia in the deal that brought Jeremy Hellickson to Baltimore.
It was a strange saga for Kim in Baltimore, all things considered. Before his Orioles career even officially began, they were trying to send him to the minors after he had a hard time during spring training last season. But he didn't leave Korea to go slum in Norfolk, so he refused. Good for him. This decision led some short-sighted fans to boo Kim on Opening Day last season.
From there, it was a while of sporadic appearances for Kim where he had to play behind last year's early April sensation, Joey Rickard. Despite this, whenever you saw him in the background in a bench shot, he always seemed like he was the most positive teammate you could ever hope for, happy for the success of his teammates.
Eventually, after Rickard cooled off and then got injured, Kim got some more playing time. He acquitted himself well, batting .302/.382/.420 for the season last year.
It's an envious on-base percentage, one lacking in the Orioles lineup this season, but a logjam caused in large part by the emergence of Trey Mancini and the re-signing of Mark Trumbo squeezed Kim out of left field. The result was Kim never getting much of a chance this year, either, and without much rhythm, posting just a .232/.305/.288 batting line before the trade. I don't hold it against him.
With that said, here are some favorite memories from Kim's time with the Orioles. It's tough to top the excitement of the Korean announcers when he got his first MLB home run last June:
Or how about when he came off the bench late last September to deliver a pinch-hit, go-ahead home run against the Blue Jays in the ninth inning, a win that played a large part in the Orioles being able to squeak into the playoffs? Really, it's tough to top this:
For that alone, he's worth remembering in the Birdland annals, even if his tenure wasn't very long. Or maybe it's just that the 2016 season now feels a lot more fun after some time has passed and a lot of 2017 losses have intervened.
Among the things you could count on for off-the-field fun from Kim was his impression of Orioles pitchers doing their wind-ups:
And back in happier times, before there was even the idea of struggle for Kim last spring training, there was Buck Showalter and Adam Jones arranging for a traditional Korean lunch for Kim:
I couldn't tell you how Kim feels overall about his time here, but I know that I'm glad that he was an Oriole. I hope that he finds success for the rest of the season with the Phillies, and if he wants to, that he's able to remain in MLB next season.
What's your favorite memory of Kim on the Orioles? Let us know in the comments below.