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Jung-Ho Kang named NL Rookie of the Year finalist

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jung-Ho Kang has been named a finalist for the NL Rookie of the Year award, along with Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Matt Duffy of the Giants. The winner will be announced on Monday.

Kang isn't going to win this award, unfortunately. Bryant was a beast at the plate and solid in the field, and he's going to win it. But it's neat to see Kang get some recognition in a year packed with talented rookies. He deserves it, too -- he made a big impact on the Pirates in a year that had to have been very difficult for him culturally. Kang looked like a big leaguer in pretty much all phases of the game, silencing concerns about his swing with an excellent offensive performance and also adding value with his steady defense and smart baserunning.

Kang's season ended in an unfortunate way, of course. But overall, his rookie year was a rousing success that seems likely to ensure that players hoping to make the leap from the KBO to MLB will continue to get opportunities. Kang's season wasn't as good as Bryant's, but it might turn out to be more important, in that it's already affecting and will continue to affect how teams value players from the KBO.