Expectations are high for Shin-Soo Choo in 2019. The Texas Rangers hope he contributes to team success while also increasing his trade value.
Shin-Soo Choo made the All-Star team last year, yet most fans still want him gone. It’s not ideal to have a 36-year-old, defensively restricted player on a rebuilding team, but Choo is still a quality big league hitter. His production at the plate makes the Texas Rangers a better team.
You could argue that Willie Calhoun needs the at-bats; however, the reality is the best players deserve to play. Choo is coming off an All-Star season, while Calhoun has done very little in his three big league stints.
We’ll find out what the Rangers have in store for Calhoun soon enough, but expect more of the same for Choo. Barring any health issues, he’ll get 500+ at-bats and probably keep his role as the team’s leadoff hitter. Chris Woodward may have a different approach in mind, though it’s tough to keep someone with a career .378 OBP out of the top spot.
Batting Average: .264
Home Runs: 21
Choo led the team in runs, OPS, OBP, and hits in 2018. He was second in batting average, home runs and doubles. Aside from his All-Star bid, the highlight of Choo’s season was his 52-game on base streak. It was the longest on-base streak of the MLB season, and the longest recorded since 2007.
So yes, he was, and is an asset to the Texas Rangers. The question is, can he keep up the good work in the 15th season of his MLB career? Also, can he start strong and finish strong?
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Choo’s 1st half and 2nd half numbers were night and day last year. He essentially went into a deep slump once his on-base streak ended in late July. He slashed .217/.329/.316 in the 2nd half compared to .293/.405/.506 in the 1st half.
Slumps happen all the time in baseball, and it’s unreasonable to expect a player to be great, or even good, from the beginning of a season to the end. There’s maybe a handful of players in all of Major League Baseball whom warrant such lofty expectations. A 36-year-old Shin-Soo Choo is not one of them.
Don’t expect the world from him in 2019, but do expect another solid season. Hopefully a few of his teammates will break out and give him a challenge for the team lead in certain offensive statistics. I doubt Rougned Odor and Nomar Mazara expect to hit fewer home runs than Choo this year. I also doubt Elvis Andrus expects to have a lower batting average than old man Choo.
Regardless, Choo is very important to the success of this rebuilding team. He may not be here when the team returns to contention, but every young team needs a veteran leader and a mature hitter to lead the way.
Batting Average: .270
Home Runs: 18
Of course, the hope is for Choo to play himself out of Texas. Moreover, to hit well enough to where another team acquires him prior to the trade deadline. He means a lot to the offense, but it would be ideal for the Texas Rangers to get something positive in return for their aging DH.
Choo’s undesirable contract makes him, well, undesirable. His contract, age, and defensive restrictions will make him difficult to move. In other words, same story, different year. It would take an even better 2019 first half from Choo than the one he had in 2018 for him to be dealt.
No matter the outcome, Shin-Soo Choo should be a nice contributor to any success the Texas Rangers have this season. We know he’ll get on base, and that’s rather important with Andrus, Odor, Mazara and Joey Gallo likely to follow him in the batting lineup.