Texas Rangers: Chris Woodward Names Shin-Soo Choo Lead-Off Hitter

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ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 07: Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 7, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - MAY 07: Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington on May 7, 2018 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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New Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward is already putting his fingerprints on the lineup, naming Shin-Soo Choo his lead-off hitter for 2019.

Per T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, Texas Rangers manager Chris Woodward has said Shin-Soo Choo will “likely bat lead-off” this season. Woodward is probably basing the decision on Choo’s stats in the lead-off position last year.

Choo batted first for the Rangers one hundred times in 2018, and the results were very positive. He only hit .260 in the lead-off role, but his on-base percentage of .374 was outstanding. He also hit 17 home runs and slugged .453 from the top spot. Choo opened up four games with a home run last season, which is always a plus.

The only negative with Choo batting lead-off is his lack of speed on the base paths. Choo only stole four bases in five attempts as lead-off in 2018. This isn’t a huge issue, however, as stealing bases is becoming unpopular among major league managers these days. The most important attribute in a lead-off hitter is getting on base, and the 14-year vet does that a lot.

Texas Rangers
ARLINGTON, TX – SEPTEMBER 2: Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Texas Rangers makes contact for a double during the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Globe Life Park September 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Brandon Wade/Getty Images) /

Choo was rewarded his first All-Star appearance a season ago. Most of the production that led to the selection was at the lead-off position. The Rangers are hoping the 35-year-old DH/outfielder can reproduce or even improve on those numbers in 2019. Depending on how the season goes, Choo will either be a key cog in a surprising wild card run, or a trade chip to be cashed in by late July.

He is only due $42 million over the next two seasons, per Spotrac, making his contract much more palatable to a trade partner. It also makes it easier for the Texas Rangers to pay off some of the money left on his deal when making a trade, which could possibly lead to better quality prospects coming back to Texas in any deal.

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However the season goes, Rangers fans should hope Choo is as productive as last season in the lead-off spot, if not more productive. Chris Woodward thinks there is a chance that happens in 2019.

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