Jung ho Kang? Try King Kang


Some adjustments take days, weeks, months, years, and those may even be only a move to a new house, career, or new state. How long do you think it would take you to adjust to a new job in a new country with a totally different language to learn? For Pittsburgh Pirates infield super utility man Jung Ho Kang it took him a spring training and a month into the regular season.

But now, Kang has found his comfort season at the plate and in the field.

When Pirates third baseman Josh Harrison could not get out of his own way at the plate, Manager Clint Hurdle inserted Kang into the lineup and he proved Hurdle and Neal Huntington right. While Harrison recharged and took extra time in the batting cages, Kang was raised his average and becoming a solid hitter and fielder. His batting going into today’s action is .320, and any further signs of improvement will force the Pirates upper management into a decision.

Harrison has solidly broken out of his early season struggles with power and consistency at the plate. But even if Harrison is the regular third baseman, Kang has to play on a regular basis because he is way more effective playing every day than as a bench player. The best and maybe only option is to play Kang at shortstop and replace Jordy Mercer who is still batting below .200 (as of May 19 he is at .176 and sinking) and was benched for the entire weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.

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The Pittsburgh Pirates offense is starting to pick up but they still need to be productive at every position and Mercer is just not the guy. His perennially early season slump seems to be worse than ever this year with no signs of letting up. Kang has proven he can play shortstop smoothly, and his offense is needed. The barrier of language has been solved with him understanding the defensive hand signals and the daily defensive positioning notes being translated into Korean. His growth will continue, especially his power numbers and RBIs.

In a strange way, I think he is proving to be a calming force in the middle of the infield and in the clubhouse. Mercer may not be tradeable, but he has to be sat down and let Kang get into the flow and become a solid member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. This is only the beginning for Kang who has a four year $11 million dollar contract and could become a valuable member of a strong defensive team and a solid cog in the offensive cog of the Pirates.

Next: Vance Worley: A hard look at a steep decline