Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Kim Tae-Kyun

Kim Tae-Kyun has retired after a 20 year career playing for the Hanwha Eagles in the KBO and the Chiba Lotte Marines of NPB.

Kim was a first round pick of the Hanwha Eagles out of Bugil High School in Cheonan, South Korea in the 2001 KBO draft.  He debuted with the team that season and ended up winning the Rookie Of The Year award.  After a bit of a sophomore slump in 2002 he established himself as a star in 2003 by hitting .319 with 31 home runs and 95 RBIs.  Over the next six seasons he would hit over .300 four times (and hit .290 and .291 in the other two years),  hit over 20 home runs four times and have more than 90 RBIs three times.  He remained with Hanwha until leaving for the Marines and NPB as a free agent after the 2009 season.

He had a good first year with the Marines in 2010, hitting .268 with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs as he helped Lotte win the Nippon Series over the Dragons.  He made the All Star team as well.  His second year in Chiba didn't go as well - he hit .250 in only 31 games in a season marred by injury.

He made a triumphant return to Hanwha and Korea in 2012, hitting .363 to lead the league.  He hit over .300 in each of the following seasons through 2019, dropping below that level only in this past season.  

He retired with over 2209 hits in Korea, third most in KBO history.  His career OBP of .421 is the highest all time.  He led the league in home runs in home runs and slugging in 2008 and in OBP in 2012-14 and 2016.  He won Golden Gloves in 2005, 2008 and 2016.  He also played for the Korean team in all four World Baseball Classics.  Off hand I'm not sure how many players have done that - from the little bit of looking around I could only come up with Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran.  I suspect there are others that I just haven't thought of.

Kim's first known card is in the 2005 Hanwha Eagles team set (#52).  He's got several BBM cards in both 2010 and 2011 and appears in many of the "official" KBO sets issued starting in 2014.  He's also in a couple of Topps' WBC sets in 2009 (as well as the Konami WBC set) and is one of only two Korean players to be included in a 2017 Topps WBC card.  Here's a bunch of his cards:

2009 Konami Baseball Heroes WBC #W09R135

2010 BBM 1st Version #388

2010 BBM All Stars #A50

2010 BBM Nippon Series #S24

2011 BBM 2nd Version #503

2014 Superstar Baseball Season Three #SBC03-081-AS

2015 Superstar Baseball Season One #SBC1501-137-N

2016-17 Superstar Baseball Black Edition #SBCBK-093-N

2017 Topps Now WBC #W-12

2017 SCC #SCC-01-HH13/N

2018 Hanwha Eagles Calendar Cards

2019 SCC KBO Premium Collection #SCCP1-19/064

2020 SCC KBO Premium Collection #SCCP1-20/E17

1 comment:

Dan Skrezyna said...

I will miss him, like several others who will be retiring or have retired. He was one of the huge stars I learned about up on my arrival to Korea in 2014.