Pittsburgh Pirates: Jung Ho Kang Expected to Miss Beginning of Spring Training

Jung Ho Kang will miss the first few weeks of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training.

According to Rob Biertempfel of TribLive, Jung Ho Kang is expected to miss the beginning of spring training. The third baseman of the Pittsburgh Pirates will appear in a South Korean court on February 22nd, and he will likely miss the first few weeks due to the trial.

Kang, whom the Pirates signed to a four-year deal before 2015, found himself on the wrong side of the law this past December. South Korean authorities charged him with driving under the influence and fleeing the scene of the crime, marking the third such time he has been arrested for driving under the influence.

The court date falls five days after the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first day of training for the entire team, meaning that he will miss at least the first week. Should the trial deliberate for long, he could miss an indefinite amount of time. It is worth noting that Kang could request for the hearing to occur after the 2017 MLB season, although this appears to be quite unlikely.

Any large lapses of playing time would certainly be unfortunate for both the team and the third baseman. Since first arriving in the United States, Kang has been a solid producer for the Pittsburgh Pirates. FanGraphs valued him at nearly four wins above replacement in his first season. Most of this value came from his bat, as his .287 batting average paired with a .461 slugging percentage made him quite the valuable asset. His value became even higher once considering that he essentially split his time between shortstop and third base that season.

This past season saw much of the same from the righty, although he made large strides in the power department. Despite only appearing in 103 games, he slugged 21 home runs against 15 in 126 games the prior season. He also inflated his walk rate to maintain roughly the same on-base percentage despite a 30-point decrease in batting average. He played exclusively at third base, reducing his value a tad.

To protect themselves against a prolonged absence, the Pittsburgh Pirates have acquired Phil Gosselin from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Gosselin, 28, has split his career between the Atlanta Braves and the Arizona Diamondbacks to this point. In 501 career plate appearances, he has featured relatively little power but a decent ability to make contact. Still, he is probably not much better than average, as evidenced by the rather small cost of acquisition.

As much as it would be a shame for Jung Ho Kang and the Pittsburgh Pirates for the player to miss much time with his trial, it is worth remembering the dangers of drunk driving. The Centers for Disease Control report that one in three crash deaths involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Driving under the influence puts both the driver and the surrounding world

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