On Opening Day against the Cubs, Shin Soo Choo was not in the lineup. Instead, Hunter Pence was the designated hitter and hit fifth.
Choo had some comments after the game, saying “I’m an everyday player. There is a reason why I am here. But the lineup is out of my hands. Any questions, ask the manager.”
Turns out he was right. After last night’s loss to the A’s, Choo has featured in every single game since then. Not only has he played in every single game, he has been on fire.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Choo’s contract is not the most attractive thing in baseball. Getting $21 million this year and next year from the team, he never really has lived up to the big contract given to him back in 2014. That does not mean he has been bad for the team though. He was the All-Star representative last year and hit a decent .264 with 21 home runs. Compare that to the start he is having this year and Choo is looking like a lock for the All-Star team, and not because each team is forced to have one.
Choo is probably the least talked about player in the lineup. Everyone wants to talk about Odor, Elvis, Maz, Gallo, Guzman, and even Danny Santana since Odor has been on the IL. Choo has been the best hitter on this team, probably by a lot.
I know, I know it is early. But the numbers speak for themselves. .307/.416/.533 in 21 games. Only behind Elvis and Danny Santana(who has played nine games) in batting averages, he leads the team in One Base Percentage. Leading in doubles, triples, tied for second in runs scored, second in total hits, this man is doing everything for the team. Could you imagine how hyped and fired up Ranger fans would be if Odor or Mazara started the year with these stats?
What is even more mind-boggling is how Choo is doing as the leadoff hitter. A stat line of .643/.706/1.143 with seven doubles to start the game. Are you kidding? Choo has been one of, if not the best leadoff hitter in baseball to start the year. To add onto that, the Rangers are scoring nearly a run in the first inning this year. The Rangers have been able to jump out to early leads in most games, giving the starting pitching as much help as possible. Choo has been the one that jump starts these first inning rallies.
The only thing lacking from his game is his RBIs and his home run hitting power that we have seen from him in the past. As the leadoff hitter, nobody is expecting him to continually hit home runs, just to keep that OBP up and creating chances for a guy that followed him in the order. As far as the lack of RBIs for Choo, not much he can do when Wisdom, IKF, and Forsythe are hitting in front of him. Dropping him in the order to make up for it would be a mistake though. His job should and will continue to be getting on base so those previously mentioned big-time players can drive him in.
It is time to give Choo the credit he deserves for what he has done early in the season. He has been an absolute monster. If he continues getting on base early and often in the game, once Odor and Guzman get healthy, the Rangers have a really solid offensive team.
Good enough offensive team to be a wild card team?
One can dream.