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Entries in Shin-Soo Choo (9)


Leading off for Cincy, Shin-Soo Choo

Last season, National League leadoff batters hit .257, led by the Colorado Rockies at .279

Last season, National League leadoff batters scored  1528 runs, that's an average of 95.5 runs per leadoff batter. The Giants leadoff batters scored 120 runs.

Last season, no National League team leadoff batters hit lower than the Cincinnati Reds at .208.

Last season, the Marlins leadoff batters scored a league low 80 runs.

But frequently you are judged by the company you keep - the Reds scored 83 runs, the same as the Pirates and the Astros. That's not good company for the Reds.

Here are last year's leadoff batters for the Reds: 

Now leading off for the Reds, Shin-Soo Choo.

On December 11, 2012: Choo was part of a 3-team trade as he went from the Cleveland Indians with Jason Donald and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Matt Albers, top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw to the Cleveland Indians. The Cincinnati Reds sent 23-year old shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Drew Stubbs to the Indians. The Cleveland Indians sent Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp to the Diamondbacks.

For the Reds this was all about acquiring about Choo and his .373 OBP as their leadoff batter. To be successful, it is critical that Choo reduces his 21.9% strikeout rate (the same as Alex Rodriguez) and maintaining his 10.6% walk rate (Mike Trout's rate was 10.5%).

Choo hit .283 last season, decent but his .353 BAbip was inordinately high for those results. Last season, David Freese hit .293 with a .352 BAbip and Carlos Gonzalez hit .303 also with a .352 BAbip.

Over the last five seasons, Choo has averaged 3.98 pitches per plate appearances and last season it was 4.09 (Trout's was 4.08).

Last season, Choo hit 16 homers and yesterday he hit his first home run as a Red. But while the 15-20 homers that he is capable of hitting is a bonus, he has one GOB (an acronym pronounced: JOB).

And that GOB acronym is simple: with Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, Ryan Ludwick , Jay Bruce, and Zack Cozart hitting behind him, as Choo adjusts to playing centerfield, for the Reds to suceed, Choo just needs to Get On Base.


Gomes loves lefties; Righties loves Gomes

When you look at the numbers that Jonny Gomes puts up against lefties, you are put into the mindset that the Red Sox made one of the best free agent signings of the offseason.

Gomes versus lefties

Last season, Gomes hit .299, the 11th best average for all those with at least 190 PA against southpaws. We are talking all-star territory. Derek Jeter was on the top of this list at .364. Adrian Gonzalez ranked sixth at .322 and David Wright seventh at .320. But behind Gomes, was Josh Hamilton at .291 and Joe Mauer at .287. Further back were Bryce Harper at .240, Robinson Cano hitting just .239 and, prepare yourself Reds' fans, Shin-Soo Choo at .199.  

Pity the lefty pitcher who gets a pitch anywhere near the center of the strike zone. In that area alone Gomes hit .418. And pitches up in the zone, Gomes raked at .382.

But sadly for Gomes and the Red Sox, Gomes has to face righties as well.

Gomes versus righties

Last season, Gomes hit .209, the 320th best average for all those with at least 130 PA against righties. We are talking designated-for-assignment territory.

Obviously, I can't list all the players ahead of Gomes but I will tell you that Joey Votto and Robinson Cano were on top of this list at .359. The aforementioned Choo hit .327, as did Carlos Ruiz and Miguel CabreraMarco Scutaro and Andrew McCutchen each hit 100 points higher than Gomes. But even Jose Molina hit .235. Clint Barmes hit .217 and Dustin Ackley hit .215.

Gomes against righties has more holes than Dunkin' Donuts 

  • On pitches that were up, he hit .160.
  • Pitches that were down, he hit .132.
  • Pitches on the outside, he hit .143.
  • Pitches on the inside he hit .173.
  • He chased many pitches out of the strike zone and hit .053.
  • He was 7-51 against fastballs. That's .137.
  • He was 0-12 against curveballs. 

I began by mentioning that when you look at the numbers that Gomes puts up against lefties, you are put into the mindset that the Red Sox made one of the best free agent signings of the offseason. But clearly, that is only half the story and the reality is, it really may not even be half, because the Sox will need to have another player to face righties as they sit Gomes. 

One last point, in case you were curious,over the last four seasons, Gomes has hit .225 against righties and his .209 last season was an improvement over his .167 in 2011.


Cincy Bets on Choo's Bat

Despite posting the second-highest win total in the majors in 2012, the Cincinnati Reds got precious little out of their leadoff spot. Cincy's sorry collection of table-setters -- mostly Zack Cozart, Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs -- ranked dead last with an abysmal .254 on-base percentage. It wasn't close, either: the Dodgers and Mariners tied for second-worst at .281. Given the out parade atop an otherwise dangerous lineup, the Reds' top priority this offseason was finding a leadoff hitter with on-base skills.

GM Walt Jocketty got the offensive threat he so coveted in yesterday's three-team, nine-player deal involving the Reds, Indians and Diamondbacks, acquiring Shin-Soo Choo from Cleveland while surrendering Stubbs and shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius. Whether the 30-year-old Choo, who has all of 83 career innings played in center field and below-average defensive metrics in right field, can cut it in the middle pasture is an open question. But here's what's not up for debate: Choo has one of the best plate approaches in the game.

Check out the lefty hitter's swing rate by pitch location last season, compared to the MLB average:


MLB average

Choo took a cut at 65.2% of pitches thrown in the strike zone in 2012, topping the overall 64.6% average for MLB hitters. In addition to swinging at plenty of hittable pitches, Choo passed on junk pitches tossed outside of the zone. With a 21% chase rate, he ranked just outside the bottom ten among all MLB hitters:

Lowest chase rate among MLB hitters, 2012

BatterChase Pct.
Josh Willingham 18.4%
Rickie Weeks 18.4%
Alberto Callaspo 18.7%
Kevin Youkilis 19.2%
Edwin Encarnacion 19.9%
Carlos Santana 20.0%
Dan Uggla 20.1%
Michael Brantley 20.2%
A. J. Ellis 20.3%
Joe Mauer 20.6%
Denard Span 20.8%
Shin-Soo Choo 21.0%
Jamey Carroll 21.6%
Ben Zobrist 21.8%
Adam Dunn 21.8%
MLB Avg. 28.3%


Choo might have to fake it in center field, but he brings doubles power and a career .383 OBP to the top of the Reds' lineup. Somewhere, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce are smiling.

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