In last night’s thrilling extra inning victory over the visiting Oakland Athletics, Shin-Soo Choo went 2-for-3 with a home run and a double, collecting three rbi while scoring twice. He played a vital role in the victory, which begs the question: Will the Texas Rangers finally receive some production from Choo?
Last season, Choo hit .242 with an on-base percentage of .340 in 123 games, a far cry from the .285/.423 he put up in Cincinnati that landed him his seven year/$130M deal in Texas. Including the two hits on Saturday night, Choo is three for his last nine with two doubles and a homer. Time to celebrate, right? Well, not so fast.
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Coming in to this series with Oakland, Choo was batting .096 (now .131), having gone 5-for-52 on the season. In the opening series against Oakland, he collected three hits in twelve at-bats, and in between that series and the one that started Friday, he had collected another two in total, spanning six series. There may just be something about facing Oakland that he enjoys. He’s a career .273 hitter against Sunday’s starter Sonny Gray, who has been dominant in his past two starts against Texas. If Choo can keep the streak alive on Sunday, there may be some room to hope.
Against the three starters that Houston will be tossing out to begin next week (Dallas Keuchel, Scott Feldman and Sam Deduno) Choo is a cumulative 9-for-44, for a .204 average. While it’s still early enough in the season to be hopeful that Choo will turn around his fortunes, the immediate returns may not be as good as his past couple of games would lead one to hope.
Perhaps it is time to set our sights a little lower when it comes to the 32-year old. While his career averages of a .280 batting average and .381 OBP along with 19 home runs per full season would be nice, perhaps something in the way of a .255 average, .350 OBP and 13-15 homers would suffice. As the years go on throughout this contract, his production will likely continue to drop. However, there is some value that can be had here.
As the weather in Texas warms, so too will his bat. Over the course of his career, Choo has averaged 29 doubles per season. If he is finding gaps and getting on base, two things that he is historically good at, then slotting him down in the order could help ignite some offense from the lower part of the lineup, much like he did last night.
In a couple of weeks when Mitch Moreland is healthy, and Josh Hamilton has returned to the team, Choo will likely be looking at a spot around seventh in the lineup, with Rougned Odor and Robinson Chirinos in the eighth and ninth spots. Choo could also move to eighth, with Chrinos batting seventh, with the duo of Choo and Odor setting the table for the top of the order.
While I’m not convinced that Choo has turned things around just yet, I’m still hopeful that he could be a vital member of the Texas Rangers offense in the coming months.