When Shin-Soo Choo signed with the Texas Rangers following the 2013 season, he appeared to be exactly the type of hitter they needed at the top of their lineup. An on base machine with power and speed, Choo had posted a career .288/.389/.465 batting line with 104 home runs and 105 stolen bases in his career. From 2009 through 2013, including his injury plagued 2011 campaign, Choo averaged 17 home runs and 19 stolen bases; if healthy, he would have likely been a 20/20 player for those five years.
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Unfortunately, since signing with the Rangers, health has not been on Choo’s side. He struggled with injuries all season, finally being shut down due to a bone spur in his elbow. He hit at a mere .242/.340/.374 clip, far below his career norms. While Choo still had some semblance of his power, hitting 13 home runs, he stole a mere three bases. This just was not the player the Rangers were expecting.
This season, Shin-Soo Choo has struggled even more. Through his first twelve games, Choo has produced a .128/.244/.231 batting line, making last season’s efforts appear to be absolutely Ruthian in comparison. Choo just does not seem right when looking at the raw statistics, yet the Rangers need him to be in the lineup almost daily in hopes that he will snap out of this early season slump.
However, can the Rangers even count on such a thing happening? It appears as though, through the early going, Choo has been victimized by some truly horrid luck. He has a ridiculously low .148 batting average on balls in play, far below his career mark of .343. Of course, as Choo ages, that mark will get lower as his speed will begin to slip away, but this sort of a dropoff is entirely outside of expectations.
Shin-Soo Choo has also been hitting the ball relatively well. This season, Choo has a line drive rate of 21%, slightly above league average. Eventually, these balls are bound to find some open space, and not a fielder’s mitt. While Choo may no longer be that 20/20 player of a couple of years ago, there is no reason why Choo cannot be a 15 home run and 15 stolen base player, hitting at close to his career batting line.
The Texas Rangers may not end up with the Choo of old, but that does not mean that they ended up with an old Choo.