Kang Jung-ho finishes 3rd in NL Rookie of the Year race

November 16, 2015
Pittsburgh Pirates' Kang Jung-ho hits a home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, July 17, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Pittsburgh Pirates’ Kang Jung-ho hits a home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers Friday, July 17, 2015, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

By Brian Han

Despite an abbreviated season due to injury, Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Kang Jung-ho crafted together an impressive enough season to finish third in the 2015 National League Rookie of the Year race.

The South Korean silenced the skeptics by batting .287 with 15 home runs and 58 RBIs in 421 at-bats over 126 games.

He paved the way for a new movement in professional baseball by becoming the first position player to transition from the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) to Major League Baseball (MLB).

As a result, the MLB recently welcomed Kang’s former Nexen Heroes teammate Park Byung-ho, who is in the midst of negotiating a contract with the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins paid $12.85 million to his KBO club just to speak with him about playing in the states.

The Pirates won negotiating rights for Kang in 2014 when they bid $5 million and subsequently agreed upon a four-year $11 million contract.

No player of Korean heritage has ever won the Rookie of the Year award, but with a potential influx of them for the 2016 season, the odds are getting better.

The Chicago Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant took home the award this year with 30 first place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for a total of 150 points, while San Francisco Giants third baseman Matt Duffy received 70 points for a second place finish. Kang received 28 points.

The South Korean is expected to make a full recovery after receiving surgery for an MCL tear, but the current timetable has him missing a part of spring training and possible even opening day.

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