Without him, the team was not in contention for the title. In April, he filled in for an injury to a Golden Glove shortstop. Now he solidifies a porous second base. His main position is third base, but he has been performing like Altoran after handing over his spot to a younger player. LG’s veteran infielder Kim Min-sung (35).
On September 25, 240 days ago, he unleashed a cannon of memories. Kim hit a home run over the left field fence with two outs in the top of the fourth inning against SSG in Munhak on Sept. 23. He seemed to recognize a changeup from opposing pitcher Oh Won-seok and took advantage of a low-country pitch. It was Kim’s fifth home run of the season, and it proved to be the game-winner. LG moved into sole possession of first place with its fifth straight win.
It was a similar moment 240 days ago when he hit his fourth grand slam. It was also against Munhak SSG, and Kim Min-sung hit a game-winning grand slam in the top of the 10th inning. With that, second-place LG caught up to first-place SSG by 3.5 games. It was the last game of the season, and there weren’t many games left, but Kim Min-sung’s walk-off home run gave the team hope for a final push for the top spot.
After the 23rd game, Kim remembered the blast vividly, saying, “It felt a little bit like September 25th, like I was in literature. But I wasn’t conscious of the home run,” he laughed, adding, “At that time, we were 3.5 games behind, and I thought we could catch the SSG if we played well. This time, we’re in first place, and there are still a lot of games left. It’s more important for us to be in first place at the end of the season,” he said.
It was a grand slam in the same place, but in a very different role. Instead of being a pinch-hitter or a center fielder, he’s back in the lineup every day. In April, he took over at shortstop when Oh was sidelined with a sore side. In May, he took over for Seo Geon-chang and shared the center field with Oh Ji-hwan. Barring any injuries, he is well on his way to 100+ games and 350+ at-bats in two years.
“I’m really happy,” Kim said of his return to the starting lineup. As an athlete, the best feeling is to be out on the field and play a lot of games,” he says with a big smile. “I think it’s because I’ve been preparing for every position in the infield since camp. Even if it’s just for a short period of time, I’ve been playing every position in the infield from first base, so I’ve been able to work my way into the starting lineup. But in the middle to late part of the season, there might be a different situation. I’ll be ready for that,” he said.
In 2019, his first year with LG, he was a solid starting third baseman. However, he then faced injuries and slumps, during which Moon Bo-kyung stepped up. At the time, Kim Min-sung asked the coaching staff to put together the most competitive lineup and not worry about him. He said he would accept a backup role.
That didn’t mean he stopped playing baseball. On the contrary, he became more disciplined. In batting practice last year, he sweated thickly and consistently hit hard. With fewer opportunities at the plate, he wanted to make sure he made the most of them.
The sweat translated into a .297 batting average with runners in scoring position. Playing all over the infield and batting lower in the order.
“It was actually a little hard to change positions, especially shortstop,” Kim said, “because it’s a wide range and the throwing is difficult. As I kept going, I didn’t have any problems, but once again, the shortstops were like, ‘That’s great. “I think I’ve gotten used to second base a little bit. I played third base a couple days ago, and I felt a little bit awkward there. I think I’m getting more comfortable where I play 메이저놀이터.”
In the Heroes’ heyday, he was an offense-minded third baseman who reserved double-digit home runs. He was also an excellent defender, often hitting long balls for extra bases. His recent return to the lineup has helped him recapture that form.
Kim Min-sung said, “I’m getting more time at the plate because I’m coming out consistently. “When I hit a home run like I did in my Nexen days, I’d have a ceremonial haircut with the manager, and I’d think about that a lot. In the past, I would hit the manager’s palm hard because I remembered being scolded by him. I don’t think I can hit as hard now as I did then,” he said, recalling one of the highlights of his career.
Kim says the team is strong enough, even if it can’t fully recapture its past form. When asked about the LG batting lineup this season, Kim Min-sung said, “It’s really good. It’s really good, but it’s not just about the bat. All of our players have a lot of desire to play defense and a lot of desire to run the bases. We’re also good at team batting when we need to, so I’m happy to just bat ninth. I feel comfortable and trust my teammates,” he said, emphasizing the performance of his teammates.
During his time with Nexen, he was also a mainstay of the championship favorites. He also appeared in the Korean Series in 2014 and 2019. However, he was unable to reach the top. This year, they’re looking to get back to the top again, and it’s important for them to make a lasting impression against defending champions SSG.
“It’s still early in the season, so I don’t think we can attach much meaning to the first place, but I think SSG is a team we can meet in the Korean Series. If we get a good result against SSG like this, I think we can have a good game against SSG later,” he said, drawing a picture of this year’s fall baseball stage in his head.