In this spring’s World Baseball Class Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder Jung Ho Kang will be the shortstop for the South Korean Team.
It is no surprise that Jung Ho Kang will be on South Korea’s team in this spring’s World Baseball Classic. Before coming to the Major Leagues Kang was one of the best hitters in the Korean Baseball Organization. He was also one of the most popular players in the league.
Since joining the Pirates for the 2015 season, Kang has made an impact on the Major Leagues. He has already become one of the Pirates’ best players, and, just like he was in Korea, he has become a fan favorite. Most of his time in the Major Leagues though has been spent playing third base.
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A big part of this is the catastrophic knee injury Kang suffered late in the 2015 season. Due to this, many people, myself included, thought he would never play shortstop again. However, it looks like that will change.
Prior to the end of the 2016 season Clint Hurdle mentioned Jung Ho Kang possibly playing some shortstop again in 2017. And now he will be playing it in the World Baseball Classic. So, what does all of this mean? Well, it could mean a few different things.
First off, we might see Kang spend time at shortstop for the Pirates in 2017 after all. If this can happen it would make the Pirates a better team. It would allow Kang and David Freese to be in the lineup at the same time, with Jordy Mercer on the bench, which improves the Pirate offense.
Secondly, it also helps clear things up on the Pirate bench. If Kang can play shortstop, then the Bucs have two shortstops on the roster in him and Mercer. It allows them to keep someone like Alen Hanson on the bench for their bat, instead of having to go with a backup shortstop type such as Pedro Florimon.
I am still skeptical about Kang being able to play shortstop moving forward. Even without the injury, his defense there was not very good pre-injury. Then again, Jordy Mercer rates as a below average fielder at shortstop as well. This will certainly be a story to watch when Spring Training rolls around, though.