Yong-soo Kim (김용수)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 160 lb.
Kim pitched for the South Korean national team in the 1983 Intercontinental Cup. The MBC Blue Dragons took him in the first round of the 1983 draft but he did not sign. In the 1984 Amateur World Series, he pitched only 2/3 of an inning, allowing one hit and getting the save. He also was with Korea in the 1984 Olympics. MBC drafted him again, in the first round of the 1985 draft.
The right-hander was 1-2 with two saves and a 3.74 ERA for MBC in his pro debut in 1985. In 1986, he was dazzling, going 9-9 with 26 saves, a 1.67 ERA and only 128 hits allowed in 178 innings. He led the KBO in saves (7 more than the runner-up) and games pitched (18 more than #2 Motoyasu Kaneshiro). He was 4th in ERA as well. He went 9-5 with 24 saves and a 1.98 ERA in 52 games for the 1987 Blue Dragons. He again led in saves (6 more than the runner-up, four times as many as the third pitcher) and games pitched (16 more than anyone else) while moving up to second in ERA, well back of Dong-yol Son's 0.89.
Kim faded significantly in 1988 (3-5, 11 Sv, 4.47, 118 H in 98 2/3 IP). He was third in the league in saves, 5 behind leader Sang-kun Lee. In 1989, he was 5-5 with 22 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 47 games. He led the league in saves for the third time (only one pitcher had half as many) and games.
The Blue Dragons became the LG Twins in 1990 and Kim remained sharp, going 12-5 with 5 saves and a 2.04 ERA while moving into more of a starting role. He tied for 9th in the circuit in wins, was 7th in strikeouts (119) and was third in ERA, trailing two of the KBO's greatest stars, Dong-yol Son and Jin-woo Song. He then was dominant in the 1990 Korean Series, winning games 1 and 4 against the Samsung Lions, posting a 1.29 ERA and being named Korean Series MVP as LG won the title in its first season of play.
Yong-soo had a 12-11, 2.79 record and 10 saves as a swingman in 1991. He was among the league leaders in ERA (8th), games pitched (41, 6th), strikeouts (129, 6th), saves (5th), wins (tied for 9th) and losses (tied for 6th). In 1992, the Seoul native had an uncharacteristically poor performance (5-4, 5.16). It was his only season from 1986-1999 in which he did not finish in the top 10 in any department. He rebounded to go 6-2 with 26 saves and a 1.55 ERA in 50 games in 1993. He led the KBO in games pitched for the fourth and final time, one ahead of Dong-yol Son. He finished second to Son in saves.
In 1994, he was 5-5 with 30 saves and a 2.56 ERA. He was third in saves behind Myung-won Jeong and Dong-hee Park. He again was a postseason hero, winning games 1 (a 11-inning affair against the Taepyungyang Dolphins) and saving two others (games 2 and 4) in a sweep of the 1994 Korean Series to be named MVP. He was the first player to win two Korean Series MVPs; Jong-beom Lee would be the second (1993, 1997). Through 2012, those were the only two pennants in LG Twins history.
Kim turned 35 in 1995 but remained sharp, with the lowest ERA of his career (1.43), going 4-2 with 30 saves and a 1.00 WHIP. He was second in saves, three shy of fellow 1984 Olympian Dong-yol Son, and tied Dong-yol Son for second in games pitched (48), behind only Myung-won Jeong. During 1996, he was 16-7 with 9 saves and a 2.82 ERA in 48 games. He was 8th in ERA and tied Dae-jin Lee and Kye-hyun Cho for third in wins.
The Chung-Ang alumnus was 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA in the 1997 KBO season. He tied Sang-yeop Kim and Sang-jin Kim for 8th in the league in wins and was 8th with 121 strikeouts. In 1998, the 38-year-old had to compete with foreign imports for the first time (other than the occasional Japanese or American of Korean descent). He didn't miss a beat, going 18-6 with two saves and a 3.45 ERA. He led the league in wins, one ahead of Min-tae Jeong.
Overall, Kim had gone 126-89 with 227 saves and a 2.98 ERA in 613 games in the KBO. Through 2012, he was among the KBO career leaders in numerous categories: games pitched (tied for 8th with Myong-ju Cha), ERA (8th, between Chul-soon Park and Danny Rios), winning percentage (10th), wins (tied for 6th with Kye-hyun Cho), losses (tied for 17th), saves (second, having been first until Seung-hwan Oh passed him in July 2012), save points (294, 1st), innings pitched (1,831 1/3, 8th, between Hak-kil Yoon and Min-tae Jeong), hits allowed (1,672, 13th), strikeouts (1,146, 16th) and runs allowed (694, 18th). His number 41 was the only number retired by LG through 2012.