After the Cleveland Indians got off to such a horrible start this season, the bad start itself became the story and the Indians were all but forgotten by the media. And that makes sense. After all, those of us that write about baseball tend to talk more about what is going right than what is going wrong. The trouble with such reality is that good young players having great seasons get overlooked. Shin-Soo Choo (秋信守) is a perfect example.
Choo (obviously from Korea) is having a very good season as a full time player after having a great season last year as a part time player. His current line after 138 games is: .301/.393/.479. The On Base Percentage is particularly impressive. His power is down some from a year ago when he posted a .549 Slugging Percentage, but that is expected over a lot more games played. He strikes out a lot (133 so far) but that is more than made up by his walks and his production.
Choo is only 27 years old and was drafted by Seattle in 2000 as a teenager after he was named the Most Valuable Player in the 2000 World Junior Baseball Championship. He was a pitcher then. The Mariners immediately converted him to an outfielder and he had a very good minor league career. His stats in the minors show a guy who has always had a lot of walks and a good OBP. He got brief looks in the majors in 2005 and 2006 and hit his first major league homer in the latter year.
In 2007, Choo had Tommy John surgery and missed most of the year. The Mariners, by then had one of the worst deals this decade when they traded Choo for Ben Broussard. Yeah, that worked out really well. Choo got into 94 games with Cleveland last year and responded with a .949 OPS. He became a full time player this year, playing mostly right field.
Last year, Choo would sit against most lefties (he bats left-handed), but this year he has faced most of them. And though he naturally has better stats against righties, he is holding his own against lefties with an .816 OPS against them. That's better than league average.
Choo has some adventures in the outfield. He has decent range but he has made seven errors, which is high for an outfielder. But his strong arm has made its presence felt and he has eleven assists, good for a tie for fourth in the league.
Where Choo has really surprised is on the bases. He has stolen 19 bases in only 21 attempts. If he can hit four more homers in the last few weeks, he has a chance to be a 20/20 guy. Looking at his stats in the minors, stolen bases are part of his arsenal. He just hadn't had the chance in the majors to show it until now.
Shin-Soo Choo is one of the brightest young players in the majors and is coming upon his peak seasons as a professional. The Indians made a steal over the Mariners in getting this really good young player.