Is Shin-Soo Choo for real?
Buster Olney over at ESPN.com wrote the following quote in a recent column:
The Indians’ Shin-Soo Choo is one of the most dangerous hitters in the big leagues against right-handed pitchers. Consider that last season, he posted a .992 OPS against righties, a number that placed him in the same class as Mark Teixeira, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez. He had 24 doubles and 11 homers in 240 at-bats against right-handers…
I found this quote interesting on a few levels. I’m an avid Indians fan and while I knew Choo helped contribute last season, I wasn’t aware of this level of hitting vs right handed pitching. I also catch a large number of Buffalo Bisons games each season (Indians former AAA affiliate), watching Choo live about a half-dozen times over the past two seasons and he’s failed to impress me. To me he’s a nice fourth outfielder, maybe third in a pinch style player.
The stat quoted by Olney surprised me. Has Choo shown a history of performing well against right-handers? Let’s see.
For his minor league career Choo has a .862 OPS vs righties and a .702 vs lefties. While this is impressive, individual seasons show a good deal of variance. Back in 2006 Choo scored a 1.001 OPS vs righties. An awesome number no doubt but this included a .406 BABIP vs righties. Of course we know that this level isn’t sustainable. In 2007 Choo’s OPS vs righties dropped to a lowly .624. We won’t count his 2008 milb season due to low AB vs righties (27).
The featured quote shows that Shin-Soo scored a .992 OPS vs righties in 2008. How did he far in his only other 100+ PA MLB season? Back in 2006 he posted a .836 OPS vs righties in 158 PA. A nice number which I honestly didn’t expect to see. For Choo’s MLB career he has a .913 OPS vs righties in close to 450 PA. Certainly all-star level numbers, at least vs righties.
Is Choo for real? Before I would have said no. The stats have turned me to an “I don’t know” fence sitting position.
We’ll all get an early preview of Choo this year when he suits up for Korea in the 2009 WBC.