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Jerry Sands is giving the Heroes a big bang for their buck

Aug 17,2019
Jerry Sands of the Kiwoom Heroes is the lowest paid foreign player in the KBO, but based on his performance this season, he is one of the best.

Jerry Sands of the Kiwoom Heroes swings during an at bat in a game against the Doosan Bears at the Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul on Aug. 11. [YONHAP]
During a game against the LG Twins on Wednesday, Sands added four hits and six RBIs to help the Heroes earn a big 14-0 victory. Also, by hitting his 23rd and 24th homer of the season, he became the home run leader in the league, surpassing Jamie Romak of the SK Wyverns.

In addition to home runs, Sands is also the league leader in RBIs, at 98, well ahead of the runner-up Kim Ha-seong, also of the Heroes, at 83, as of Thursday. With Sands currently leading the KBO in slugging percentage, at 0.576, he is well on pace to win three titles by the end of this season.

But it’s not only his slugging percentage that stands out. Sands has also proven to be consistent, holding a 0.316 batting average, good enough to be ranked 12th in the league as of Thursday.

The Heroes are currently ranked second in the league.

Sands joined the Heroes in August 2018 to replace outfielder Michael Choice. At the time, Sands signed a $100,000 contract for the remaining season. Since there wasn’t a salary cap for foreign players until last season, the contracts of notable foreign players easily exceeded $1 million.

Starting off with such a cheap contract, Sands joined the KBO with few expectations, but he has proven to be a significant player on the Heroes’ lineup. In the final 25 regular season games of 2018, Sands had a 0.314 batting average with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs. During the Heroes’ playoff series against the Wyverns, Sands excelled with a 0.368 batting average, with two home runs and six RBIs in five games.

Having proved his worth to the Heroes, Sands re-signed a one-year contract for $500,000. Although it was quite an increase from the previous season, his contract is still the lowest among the 30 foreign players in the KBO this season.

Sands and Eric Jokisch, also of the Heroes, have the lowest contracts in the league, at $500,000.

Darin Ruf of the Samsung Lions is the highest paid foreign fielder in the league this season at $1.7 million. Despite being the highest paid foreign fielder, Ruf’s performance is not as good as Sands’ - he currently has a 0.284 batting average with 18 home runs and 76 RBIs.

Among all of the foreign players in the KBO, pitcher Josh Lindblom of the Doosan Bears has signed the most expensive contract, at $1.92 million. Lindblom is having his best season yet, as he also has a chance at winning the Triple Crown in the league’s pitching award.

When comparing the two players’ wins above replacement (WAR) statistic, a sum that represents a player’s total contribution to his team, Sands has a slightly higher number at 5.40. Lindblom’s WAR is 5.38.

Sands may not be the highest paid player, but the numbers show that he is worth a lot more than he is paid.

His statistics have been consistent and depending on the situation, he’s been fulfilling his roles in different positions. When the Heroes’ slugger Park Byung-ho left the team due to a wrist injury in June, Sands fulfilled his role as the clean-up hitter and covered first base, rather than his main position in the outfield.

BY PARK SO-YOUNG [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]


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