The most productive player on the Indians roster this season reached a milestone last night amidst yet another loss against the Red Sox. RF Shin-Soo Choo, who just happens to be the team leader in almost every single offensive statistical category, hit his 20th home run of the season to go along with 21 steals he already has. Per the Indians press release from Bart Swain last night:
SHIN SOO CHOO is the first Asian-born player in MLB history to hit 20HR and steal 20 bases within the same season. He is the 12th Major Leaguer to do it this year.
Remember how Choo even ended on the Indians in the first place? Just like his former Seattle Mariner minor league teammate , Cleveland nabbed him for a forgotten first baseman. On July 26, 2006 the team traded away Ben Broussard and minor league pitcher Shawn Nottingham to the Mariners for their 24-year-old South Korean prospect.
Over parts of four seasons with the Tribe, Choo has appeared in over 300 games for Cleveland and his offensive numbers are incredibly consistent. In his three stints of at least 45 games, every year he ended up with a stat line of .295/.370/.470 or better. For comparison’s sake yet again, there were only a grand total of 30 qualified players in MLB that did that this season, let alone a minor league prospect that was basically acquired for nothing three years ago in July.
First of all, Choo currently leads the Indians in runs scored (87), hits (175), triples (six), home runs (20), stolen bases (21), walks (78), runs batted in (86), on-base percentage (.394) and slugging percentage (.489). In the entire major leagues right now, there are only three players with at least 20+ steals and an OBP/SLG combo of at least .390/.475. Those three players are Choo along with National League superstars Hanley Ramirez and Chase Utley. For a player considered an after-thought in the Mariners franchise, he is currently first in the majors in OBP and fourth in OPS among all qualified RF’s.
No matter what happens in the offs-eason, Choo will certainly still be around and should be considered the starting RF for many years to come. Everyone is aware by this time of his potential military obligations, but at only 27 years old and less than two full years of official major league experience, he still has more room to grow. He was without a doubt the top offensive weapon for the team all season, and it will be nice for fans not to worry about the RF position for the next handful of years.
(The above photo was found at this link here and is from the AP.)