As the 2019 season comes to a close, Shin-Soo Choo suggests the Texas Rangers might be best served in tracking down “Tokki 3”.
Shin-Soo Choo, the Texas Rangers right fielder, has recently been quoted by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writer Jeff Wilson on a solution for the club. Less talent, more hunger for the game.
"“You can’t have the best players at every position,” Choo said. “A winning mentality. Maybe less skill, but more hungry. Appreciate the major leagues, work hard. That’s the mentality. It’s hard to make 25 games like that, but at least 20 or 22 guys like that and we have a good chance to win.”"
When this quote came out, there was some confusion and backlash, but I think Choo is looking for some inspiration, maybe another Tokki 3. This quote reminded me of another time in Choo’s career, when he was with the Cincinnati Reds. Back during Players Weekend in 2017, the story was about Choo and Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto being Tokki 1 and Tokki 2. Votto told MLB writer Mark Sheldon about the origin of the name from the 2013 season and why he was Tokki 2.
"Votto asked Choo if he had ever been to the dog track. Choo replied that he had.“I said, ‘You know those rabbits in the middle that spin around the center of the dog track that dogs chase but can never catch?'” Votto said. “He said, ‘Yep.’ I said, ‘That’s how I feel about you. No matter how much I chase, I can’t catch you.’ [Choo] said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a tokki.’ I said, ‘What?’ He goes, ‘A rabbit [is Korean for] tokki.’ I said, ‘OK, from now on, you’re my tokki.’"
That year, Votto had an on-base percentage of .435 and Choo was right behind him at .423.
Now, is Choo looking for a new tokki and to be someone else’s tokki on this Texas Rangers team?
Without really knowing what will happen in the off season, the possibilities are endless on who could use Shin-Soo Choo’s drive and determination.
As of right now, I think there are three possible guys already on the roster. Two probably are common sense, but the third might surprise you.
The very young, very hot hitter with a cool demeanor could use the Choo mentorship to pave a way to a wonderful career, but his cool demeanor would lack the hunger Choo is looking for in a competitor.
He has a lot of passion for the game. However, he lacks the skill and the mindset to be a consistent player, which is going to be a cornerstone of the inspiration for Choo and for himself.
The big bat, and he does have a hunger for the game. I could see this being a perfect fit. Gallo has the skill, and coming back from injury, he is going to be hungry. I could see him and Choo hitting home run after home run in a personal duel that would benefit not only them but the team. Maybe next Players Weekend, Pico de Gallo could be changed to Tokki 3?
Shin-Soo Choo has been in the game a very long time and has seen the fruits of having some healthy competition among his teammates. While skill is a great thing and necessary, it cannot come at the cost of having a certain drive, a passion, a will to do better and to be better. Being hungry makes for a better player and in the end a better team.