Jung Ho Kang’s Trial Date Has Been Set
On Thursday morning, we found out the date of Jung Ho Kang’s trial in South Korea relating to his DUI charges.
On December 22nd, 2014, the Pittsburgh Pirates signed South Korean infield Jung Ho Kang to a four-year contract. At the time it was not known if Kang’s all-star caliber play in South Korea would translate to Major League Baseball or not. However, as you all know, it has.
In 837 career plate appearances Jung Ho Kang owns a .273/.355/.483/.835 slash line. His career wOBA is .362, wRC+ is 131, his ISO is .210, and he averages a home run once every 20 at bats.
Due to a catastrophic leg injury suffered in September of 2015, that led to time on the disabled list in 2016, Kang has yet to play a full Major League season. If/when this happens his numbers could be gaudy. After all, his home run rate would put him on pace to mash 33 bombs in a full season’s worth of plate appearances.
The Pittsburgh Pirates were hopeful that 2017 would be Kang’s first full Major League season. However, that may now be in jeopardy. The reason for this is due to Kang getting charged with a DUI, his third, this past offseason in his native South Korea.
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According to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jung Ho Kang’s trial date has been set. His trial will take place on February 22nd, and Kang must attend the trial. The Pirates’ first full squad workouts in Bradenton are schedules for February 17th.
In the country of South Korea a third DUI is a jailable offense. However, I would be shocked to see Kang end up in prison. Right or wrong, the South Korean government is not likely to put arguably their best export in jail. Kang brings too much money, good notoriety, and fan fare to baseball in South Korea. And baseball is, by far, the most popular sport in that country.
The Pirates or Major League Baseball could also punish Kang. But I do not expect this to happen, either. If either one would try to suspend Kang I would expect the player’s association to, no pun intended, go to bat for him.
Since his arrest in December Kang has also said and done all the right things. He has apologized for the mistakes he has made, and will be receiving help through a treatment program. The latter of which will reflect very positively in the eyes of the Pirates, Major League Baseball, and the South Korean courts.
Losing Kang for any extended period of time could be a big blow to the Pirates. He is the team’s best power bats, and has the potential to be one of the best power bats in the entire National League. Also, when healthy, Kang is a very good defensive third baseman. Furthermore, Kang is loved in the clubhouse and a big part of the team’s chemistry.
Oh, and, please, do not pull the morality card when talking about Kang. Did he make a mistake? Absolutely. Should the Pirates release him due to it? Absolutely not.
If you believe Jung Ho Kang should be released by the Pirates, then I’m assuming you feel the same way about Daivd Freese due to his 2009 DUI arrest. And let’s not forget that the Detroit Tigers should release Miguel Cabrera, too. If you feel that way about Kang, but not other players to have similar incidents, then you’re a hypocrite.
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As of now, I fully expect Jung Ho Kang to be the Pirates’ starting third baseman on Opening Day. However, that could still change between now and then. In that case I would expect to see a lot of David Freese at third base this year. Possibly Adam Frazier, too.
Luckily, the Jung Ho Kang saga will end soon. Best of all, it will all be cleared up before the start of the regular season.