Choo vs. Kinsler – Comparing the Rangers Lead off Hitters


AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

The Texas Rangers have had a constant lead off man over the past few seasons, and that man was Ian Kinsler. Kinsler has now moved on to Detroit via the Prince Fielder trade, and the Rangers have a new lead off man, one named Shin-Soo Choo. I thought I would compare style and numbers for you today and see how much of an upgrade/downgrade Choo will be over Kinsler.

Games Played – In 2013, Kinsler got into 136 games for the Texas Rangers (614 plate appearances) while Choo got into 154 games (712 plate appearances). So advantage Choo on games played in 2013 and in plate appearances.

BA/OBP/SLG/OPS – In 2013, Ian Kinsler had a line of 277/.344/.413/.757. Pretty good numbers, not bad for a leadoff hitter to have an on base percentage of .344. Choo, on the other hand had a line of .285/.423/.462/.885, better numbers. Choo is known as a obp guy so it is no surprise that he is over .400 with his on base percentage. Their slugging percentage is comparable, but I am not too worried about slugging percentage when it comes to the lead off man.

Walks – We all know that Choo is known for being patient at the plate, and Kinsler, while we all remember the pop ups that he seemed to have frequently, was not bad in that category either. Kinsler took a walk 51 times in 2013, which means he walked roughly eight percent of the time he came to the plate, or .083% to be exact. Choo walked 112 times in 2013, or roughly sixteen percent of the time he came to the plate. Much more impressive and something I am excited to see in the Rangers new lead off guy.

Strikeouts – Kinsler struck out 59 times in 2013, which amounts to 9.6% of his plate appearances. striking out under 10% of the time is not too bad at all in my book. Choo struck out 133 times in 2013, which amounts to 18.7% of the time he came to the plate, and most of that has to do with the fact that Choo has some difficulty against left-handed pitching. Kinsler has a big edge on this one.

Steals – Kinlser swiped 15 bags in 2013, a low number for him (his previous two seasons were 21 and 30) and Choo swiped 20. Choo has topped out at 22 in his career, so I don’t think the Rangers are getting a big base stealer in Choo.

Runs Scored – So when they get on base, how often do they make it home? Kinsler scored 85 runs in 2013. That amounted to scoring a run 14% of the time he reached base, and Choo crossed the plate 107 times in 2013 or 15% of the time, so this category is also a wash in my opinion.

Home Runs/RBI – Kinsler drove 13 balls out of the park and had 72 RBI in 2013, while Choo (in 98 more plate appearances) had 21 home runs and 54 RBI. The RBI numbers should go up for Choo with the better Rangers players around him, but Kinlser wins out on this one in my opinion.

WAR – Kinlser had a WAR of 4.9 during the 2013 season while Choo had a WAR of 4.2. As they play different positions, it is hard to say who wins this one, but I think it is again a wash.

So what does comparing their numbers show me? That both Kinsler and Choo are very good major league hitters, and both of them are very good lead off men. Choo is going to work more walks that Kinlser, and Kinlser is going to drive in more runs and probably hit a few more home runs, but over all I think the Rangers made the right choice. Choo seems to be better in the categories that make a lead off hitter great. Agree or disagree? I would love to hear from you.