Jung-ho Kang

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Jung-ho Kang
Jung-ho Kang Batting.jpg
Kang batting in 2015
Pittsburgh Pirates – No. 15
Third baseman / Shortstop
Born: (1987-04-05) April 5, 1987 (age 31)
Gwangju, South Korea
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Professional debut
KBO: April 8, 2006, for the Hyundai Unicorns
MLB: April 8, 2015, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
KBO statistics
Batting average.298
Home runs139
Runs batted in545
MLB statistics
(through 2018 season)
Batting average.274
Home runs36
Runs batted in120
Career highlights and awards
  • KBO League All-Star (2010–2014)
  • KBO League Golden Glove Award (2010, 2012–2014)
  • KBO Slugging Percentage leader (2014)


Jung-ho Kang
Revised RomanizationGang Jeongho
McCune–ReischauerKang Chŏngho
IPAKorean: [kaŋdʑʌŋho]

Jung-ho Kang (Korean: 강정호; Korean pronunciation: [kaŋ.dʑʌŋ.ɦo]; born April 5, 1987) is a South Korean infielder for the Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball (MLB). He has previously played in the KBO League for the Hyundai Unicorns and Nexen Heroes.

Early life[edit]

While attending Gwangju Jeil High School, Kang's main position was catcher.[1]

In 2004, Kang was selected for the South Korean national under-18 team as a third baseman and was part of the team that won bronze at the World Junior Baseball Championship.[2]

In July 2005, Kang helped Gwangju Jeil High School win the Golden Lion Flag Championship, winning the Outstanding Pitcher Award and the RBI title.[3]

Professional career[edit]

Hyundai Unicorns[edit]

Kang was drafted by the Hyundai Unicorns in the second round of the 2006 Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) First-Year Player Draft.[4] Kang struggled to make an impact in his first two seasons. In his rookie season, he played 10 games and batted .150.[4] He struck out eight times in 21 plate appearances.[5] In 2007, he appeared in 20 games and hit .133.[5]

Nexen Heroes[edit]

In 2008, Hyundai sold the Unicorns, who subsequently became defunct and were replaced with a new team, Woori Heroes (renamed the Nexen Heroes in 2009).[6] Kang became the starting shortstop for the Heroes in 2008, appearing in 116 games, batting .271 with 8 home runs and 47 RBI.[4][5]

In 2009, Kang had an impressive offensive season. He finished the season with a .286 batting average, 23 home runs, 81 RBI, a .508 slugging percentage, 136 hits, and 71 runs scored.[4][5] Kang tied Hong Sung-heon of the Lotte Giants for the league lead in doubles (33).[7]

In 2010, Kang had his first season with a .300 batting average.[5] He finished with an average of .301, as well as 12 home runs and 58 RBI.[5] His defensive play earned him his first KBO Gold Glove Award.[8] As a member of the South Korean national baseball team, Kang also won the gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games, where he hit 3 home runs in 13 at-bats.

In 2011, Kang regressed slightly from his two previous seasons, hitting .282 with 9 home runs and 63 RBI.[5]

In 2012, Kang improved, hitting .314 with 25 home runs (2nd in the league), 82 RBI, 77 runs scored, and a career-high 21 stolen bases.[5] He would also win his second Gold Glove Award.[8]

In March 2013, Kang competed in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.[9]

In the 2013 KBO season, Kang hit 22 home runs and had an OPS of .876.[5] He also won his second straight Gold Glove Award, his third overall.[8]

In 2014, Kang had his best season statistically, hitting .356 with 40 home runs and 117 RBI.[5] He led the league in slugging percentage (.739) and OPS (1.198).[10] He also finished second in home runs (40) and OBP (.459), third in RBI (117) and doubles (36), and fifth in runs scored (103).[10] He also won his third straight Gold Glove Award, his fourth overall.[8]

Pittsburgh Pirates[edit]

On December 22, 2014, it was announced that the Pittsburgh Pirates had won the bidding for Kang and would get the opportunity to negotiate a contract for him to move to Major League Baseball.[11] The Pirates' winning bid was later revealed to be $5,002,015 (5,457,150,000). This transfer fee (posting system) was to be paid to the Nexen Heroes for the exclusive rights to negotiate a contract, and as compensation for the loss of Kang.[1] To put this in perspective, at the time of the Kang signing, the record international transfer fee posted was the December 8, 2011 transfer of the RHP Yu Darvish from the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to the Texas Rangers for $51,703,411.[12]

2015 season[edit]

On January 16, 2015, Kang signed a four-year, $11 million, contract with the Pirates, with an option for a fifth year.[13][14]

Kang then flew into Pittsburgh to finalize the contract/meeting with the team doctors for a physical examination. There was no formal introduction to the fans, no press conference announcing the new signing.

Soon thereafter, January 25, 2015 - February 7, 2015, in preparation for his upcoming MLB debut, Kang decided to train with his former Korean club, the defending (2016) KBO Champion Nexen Heroes, whom had arrived in Surprise, Arizona for their Spring Training (hosted at the spring training facility of the Texas Rangers). While there Kang focused almost exclusively on strength training. Although there was plenty of Korean language media coverage from both Korean and U.S.-based outlets surrounding the historic transition of Kang as the first established KBO position player to jump directly to the Major Leagues, there was very little domestic interest/coverage of the story.

In Bradenton, Florida for spring training, Kang was given the opportunity to compete for the starting shortstop job held by Jordy Mercer.[13][14] In the first spring training game of 2015, in his second at-bat, Kang connected on a 0-1 fastball, taking advantage of a mistake by Blue Jays Starting Pitcher Marco Estrada, driving an opposite field solo home run in the third inning, helping the Pirates to a 5-0 lead, and eventual 8-7 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.[15]

On April 4, 2015, Kang recorded his first Major League hit off Kyle Lohse of the Milwaukee Brewers, a flare just past the outstretched glove of shortstop Jean Segura.[16]

On April 21, Kang recorded his first RBI against the Chicago Cubs with a bases-clearing RBI double that gave the Pirates an 8–5 lead.[17]

On May 3[18] in St. Louis, down 0-1 Kang came to bat to lead off the top of the 9th inning. Facing the hard-throwing right-handed St. Louis Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal, Kang connected on the first pitch of the inning sending a game-tying solo home into the left-center seats, knotting the game at 1–1.[19]

On May 9, 2015, during a 7–5 win over the Cardinals, the Pirates became the first MLB team to turn a 4–5–4 triple play. The play occurred when the Cardinals' Yadier Molina lined out to second baseman Neil Walker. Walker threw to Kang at third base to double off Jhonny Peralta for the second out. Kang then threw the ball back to Walker, who was standing on second base, for the final out after Jason Heyward froze between second and third.[20]

On September 8, 2015, Kang connected on an impressive 472-ft solo shot, his 14th of the season, on the road against the Cincinnati Reds.[21]

On September 17, 2015, during a game against the Chicago Cubs, Kang was covering second base in a double play attempt. Baserunner Chris Coghlan attempted to break up the double play aggressively by sliding into Kang. Coghlan collided with Kang's left knee, instantly fracturing his leg and tearing his MCL. Kang was placed on the 60-day disabled list and would miss the remainder of the season,[22] including the post season NL wild card game, which the Pittsburgh Pirates played host to the very same Chicago Cubs.

On October 7, during the pre-game introductions of the NL Wild Card game, a wheelchair-bound Kang was wheeled out onto the field, where he received a standing ovation.[23] This was his first public appearance since the incident.

In 126 games played in 2015, Kang hit .287 with 15 HRs and 58 RBIs.[5] Kang placed third in Rookie of the Year voting, collecting a 19% share.[24]

2016 season[edit]

On May 6, 2016, Kang played in his first MLB game since his September 17, 2015 injury. He hit two solo home runs in the game, contributing to the Pirates 4–2 road win over their NL Central division rival St. Louis Cardinals.[25][26][27] In only 103 games, Kang ended the season batting .255 with a career-high 21 home runs and 62 RBIs.[28]

2017 season[edit]

As a result of his recent legal troubles, the Pirates placed Kang, whose visa was revoked, on the Restricted List on March 11. Kang was not on the Pirates' 40-man roster for the year, as he could not obtain a work visa to travel to the United States.[29][30] On May 18, Kang's suspended sentence was upheld by a Korean court, meaning that he was disallowed from working or playing any professional sport legally in the United States in 2017.

Kang played in the Dominican Professional Baseball League for the 2017–2018 winter season, with the Águilas Cibaeñas.[31] He batted just .143 with one home run in 24 games, which brought about an early release from the team.

2018 season[edit]

On April 26, 2018, it was revealed that Kang successfully renewed his visa, meaning that he was eligible for activities in the United States once again. He was also cleared by the Pirates organization to return to the team.[32]

In speaking with reporters on June 6, 2018, Kang said through a translator that he was sober and had voluntarily enrolled in the Joint Drug Treatment Program. "I'm just trying to be as careful as possible in everything that I do. Obviously, I'm not touching a drop of alcohol moving forward," he said.[33] On June 15, 2018, the Pirates reinstated Kang to their 40-man roster from the restricted list and optioned him to Triple-A Indianapolis.[34]

Kang made his season debut on September 28, 2018, (game number 160) having been inserted into the game in the top of the seventh inning as a pinch hitter for the pitcher, with the Pirates ahead 5-2 in Cincinnati, and drove the 1-0 offering (a center cut fastball) from Scott Schebler past the out-stretched Reds SS Jose Peraza, into left field, for a one out single. This was his first AB in the major leagues since October 2, 2016.

Kang had his jersey number changed to '16', back to his original number from his time with the Nexen Heroes of the KBO. Previous to 2018, Kang wore the number '27'. The Pirates declined his 2019 contract option and made him a free agent on October 31, 2018.[35]

On November 8, 2018, the Pirates re-signed Kang to a one-year deal.[36]

Legal troubles[edit]

In early July 2016, a sexual assault claim was made against Kang by a yet to be identified 23-year old Chicago woman. No charges were brought upon Kang, as the accuser would not cooperate with police investigation.[37]

On December 1, 2016, Kang was reported to have been involved in a high-speed DUI-induced hit-and-run, fleeing the vehicle on foot. The incident was confirmed by released videos that were provided by both municipal (traffic) CCTV and Kang's very own on board dash cam.[38][39] Kang was found guilty of his third DUI, and as a result, the initial request for a work visa to enter the United States for the 2017 season was denied.[40]


  1. ^ a b Brink, Bill (February 23, 2015). "Jung Ho Kang begins transition to Pirates, MLB". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Pittsburgh. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  2. ^ "2004 World Junior Championship". Baseball Reference. n.d. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  3. ^ Hwan, Soo-zang; Kim, Sung-kyu (July 7, 2005). "Gwangju Jeil High School Takes Home the Golden Lion after 21 Years". The Dong-a Ilbo. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d "2014 International FA Profile: SS, Jung-Ho Kang (KBO)". Global Sporting Integration. September 14, 2014. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Jung-Ho Kang". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  6. ^ "Nexen Heroes". homeplate.kr (Korean Baseball Information, News, and Opinion). Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  7. ^ "2009 Korean Baseball Organization Batting Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c d "Jung-ho Kang". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  9. ^ "2013 World Baseball Classic (Rosters)". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "2014 Korean Baseball Organization Batting Leaders". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  11. ^ "Pirates win rights to negotiate with South Korean shortstop". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 22, 2014. Retrieved December 22, 2014.
  12. ^ "Darvish, Rangers agree to 6-year, $60M deal". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  13. ^ a b "Jung Ho Kang, Pirates finalize deal". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  14. ^ a b Singer, Tom (January 16, 2015). "Bucs, Kang make it official with 4-year deal". MLB.com. Archived from the original on 2015-01-17. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  15. ^ Singer, Tom (March 3, 2015). "Jung-ho Kang goes deep in first spring game". MLB.com. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  16. ^ Singer, Tom (April 12, 2015). "Kang collects first big league hit after being robbed twice". MLB.com. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  17. ^ Singer, Tom (April 22, 2015). "Kang's first extra-base hit, RBIs could boost confidence". MLB.com. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  18. ^ "Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals Box Score, May 3, 2015 | Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  19. ^ Berg, Ted (May 4, 2015). "Watch Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang hit his first MLB home run". USA Today. Retrieved May 11, 2016.
  20. ^ Abrotsky, Justin L.; Stone, Avery (May 9, 2015). "Pittsburgh Pirates pull off first 4–5–4 triple play in MLB history against Cardinals". USA Today. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  21. ^ MLB (2015-09-11), PIT@CIN: Kang's tape-measure shot travels 472 feet, retrieved 2017-04-04
  22. ^ "Jung Ho Kang of Pittsburgh Pirates placed on 60-day DL". Retrieved 2015-09-30.
  23. ^ "Injured Pirates rookie Jung Ho Kang receives standing ovation ahead of wild card game". For The Win. 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  24. ^ "2015 Rookie of the Year Award voting". Baseball Reference. Retrieved May 7, 2016.
  25. ^ Schoenfield, David. "What a return! Pirates' Jung Ho Kang hammers two home runs". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
  26. ^ Magliocchetti, Geoff (May 7, 2016). "WATCH: Korean announcers go nuts over Jung Ho Kang's return". Sportsgrid.com. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  27. ^ "Jung Ho Kang homers twice in return from knee injury, Bucs beat Cards". Foxsports.com. May 7, 2016. Retrieved May 13, 2016.
  28. ^ "Jung Ho Kang Stats, Fantasy & News". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  29. ^ "Active Roster". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  30. ^ "40-Man Roster". Pittsburgh Pirates. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  31. ^ "Jung Ho Kang's suspended sentence upheld by South Korean court". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-06-30.
  32. ^ "Jung-ho Kang granted work visa, set to rejoin Pirates". MLB. Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  33. ^ Biertempfel, Rob. "Jung Ho Kang, working his way back toward the majors, says..." The Athletic. Retrieved 2018-06-13.
  34. ^ Berry, Adam. "Kang comes off restricted list, stays at Triple-A". MLB.com. Retrieved 2018-06-22.
  35. ^ https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/10/pirates-to-decline-option-over-josh-harrison.html
  36. ^ Berry, Adam. "Pirates sign Kang to one-year contract". MLB.com. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  37. ^ Heinzmann, Stacy St. Clair, David. "Chicago police investigate Pirates infielder in sexual assault claim". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 2017-04-04.
  38. ^ 한국일보(hankookilbo.com) (2016-12-01), 강정호 음주운전 블랙박스 영상 공개, retrieved 2017-04-04
  39. ^ 꿀잼티비 (2016-12-05), 강정호선수 음주운전 교통사고 블랙박스 / CCTV영상 (꿀잼티비), retrieved 2017-04-04
  40. ^ "Report: Jung Ho Kang denied visa to enter United States". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2017-04-04.

External links[edit]