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Jong-soo Shim

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Jong-soo Shim (심정수) (Hercules)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 220 lb.

Jong-soo Shim came close to setting the Korea Baseball Organization career home run record before injuries forced him to retire when he was only 33 years old. "Hercules" only won one home run title, losing a few close races. He was noted for his weight training, gaining 22 pounds of muscle during the 1990s.

Shim debuted with the OB Bears as a teenager in 1994, going 10 for 61 - 7 of his 10 hits went for extra bases, including his first 3 home runs. In 1995, he hit .282/.344/.508, finishing 4th in the KBO in slugging and 10th in homers. The next year, he batted .248/.331/.450 with 18 home runs, 6th in the circuit.

Shim was limited to 40 games for the 1997 Bears, hitting .246/.359/.410. He batted .294/.346/.491 in 1998 with 19 homers, finishing 10th in the circuit in both homers and slugging. In '99, he improved to .335/.408/.606 with 35 doubles, 31 home runs, 79 runs and 110 RBI. He was 5th in the KBO in average and RBI, 7th in slugging and 10th in home runs. Competition was getting tougher with the addition of foreign players to the KBO in 1998, but Shim was holding his own.

Shim hit .304/.400/.551 in 2000 with 29 home runs and 91 RBI. He was 9th in the KBO in homers and 10th in slugging. He was not picked for Korea's 2000 Olympic roster as Byung-kyu Lee, Soo-keun Jung, Sung-ho Jang and Gi-tae Kim got the nod instead in the outfield. He hit 3 game-winning home runs in the playoffs to help his team (now known as the Doosan Bears) make it to the 2000 Korean Series but Doosan fell in 7 games in the Series.

In 2001, the slugging flyhawk joined the Hyundai Unicorns and batted .294/.404/.491 with 18 home runs and 70 RBI in an off-year. In the 2001 Baseball World Cup, he was the backup right fielder for South Korea and went 2 for 10 with 2 walks, a double and a home run. He burst back in 2002 with a batting line of .321/.404/.643 with 46 long balls, 101 runs and 119 RBI. He was second in the KBO in slugging (.046 behind Seung-yeop Lee), runs (trailing Lee), RBI (7 behind Lee) and homers (one behind Lee), 4th in hits (161) and 5th in OBP. He won his first Gold Glove, which in South Korea goes to the best all-around player at their position; the other outfielders picked were Jong-beom Lee and Ji-man Song.

Shim had his career year in 2003 but was again overshadowed by Seung-yeop Lee. Shim batted .335/.478/.720 with 53 home runs, 110 runs and 142 RBI. He led the KBO in OBP and slugging, was 2nd in average (.007 behind Dong-joo Kim), home runs (3 shy of Seung-yeop Lee) and RBI (2 behind Lee) and 3rd in runs (5 behind Lee). Despite his amazing all-around year, he lost KBO MVP honors in a race that was surprisingly not close to Seung-yeop Lee, who set a new KBO home run record. Shim and Lee's race to set the homer record has been compared to the Mark McGwire-Sammy Sosa duel in 1998 to set the US major league record. He was another Gold Glove, joining Jun-hyeok Yang and Jong-beom Lee in the outfield.

It should be noted that the 2004 Baseball Almanac lists Shim incorrectly as hitting .355 and leading the KBO; Korean sources uniformly list .335 and the H and AB totals listed in the Almanac yield a .335 figure as well.

Shim slumped badly in 2004 to .256/.385/.480 with 22 home runs, 8th in the league.

A free agent, Shim was highly sought after. He signed a 6 billion won ($4.5 million) contract over 4 years with the Samsung Lions, the largest contract in KBO history to that point. He bounced back in 2005 to hit .275/.402/.501 with 28 homers, 87 RBI and 89 walks. He was 2nd in the KBO in home runs (trailing Larry Sutton), 3rd in runs and RBI, 4th in OBP and 5th in slugging but did not win a Gold Glove.

Shim battled injuries in 2006, needing both shoulder and knee surgeries. He hit only .141/.229/.188 in 26 games for Samsung. He bounced back in 2007, his last big year, batting .256/.381/.515 with 31 home runs, 101 RBI and 83 walks. For the first and only time, he led the league in homers (and RBI). The home run race was another close one - he was just 2 ahead of Cliff Brumbaugh and Dae-ho Lee. Those two were 14 shy of Shim in RBI, as he led comfortably there. He was 6th in slugging as well. He was the only slugger to win a Gold Glove in the outfield in the KBO that year as speedsters Jong-wook Lee and Dae-hyung Lee were the other two picks. It was only the third Gold Glove of Shim's impressive career.

Shim battled more knee problems in 2008 and had surgery again. He hit .235/.409/.368 with 3 home runs in 22 games, leaving him 14 shy of KBO career leader Jong-hoon Chang; he had hoped to break Chang's record in 2008.

In 1,450 games in the KBO, Shim had hit .287/.391/.534 with 328 home runs, 1,029 RBI and 856 walks. He retired in December of 2008.

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