If you’re asking yourself who’s Shin-Soo Choo, then you’re in dire-straights before the season even begins. Choo, a former starting pitcher in the Seattle Mariner’s farm system, converted to outfielder after a copious amount of arm problems in the minors and has thrived since his trade to Cleveland.
What I found most interesting about Choo’s extended call-up in 2008 (361 plate-appearances), was the fact that his OPS (.924) topped Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Carlos Lee, and Josh Hamilton, just to name a few. Does this mean Choo’s going to top these guys? No! Of course that’s not the case, but 2008 may be an indicator that a breakout is on the horizon for Choo in 2009.
Looking back to 2007, there was another converted-outfielder who put up a high-OPS (.863)in limited plate-appearances. His name: Rick Ankiel. In 2008, Ankiel continued more-of-the-same in his PA’s with a .843 OPS. Ankiel, like Choo, played in a hitter’s park and eventually found himself in the middle of the line-up with Albert Pujols somewhere nearby.
Taking a look at Choo’s projected points/plate-appearance (formula offered here), he’s expected to do much better than some “names” who will be drafted before him:
Bill James: .842 pts/pa
CBS Sports: .841 pts/pa
MARCEL: .875 pts/pa
For Bill James, Choo should be expected to outperform the likes of Jermaine Dye (.83), Andre Ethier (.82), Nick Swisher (.81), Hideki Matsui (.80), Vernon Wells (.80), and Johnny Damon (80) in a points-based fantasy baseball league. Now, I like the comparables here, BUT the oddball in this equation has to be Andre Ethier. Like Choo, he’s a younger (27) and in everyone’s favorite “breakout” age. Due to the fact that Ethier is guaranteed much more playing time, I would elevate him a bit out of the group of mediocrity where Bill James places him.
Moving on to CBS Sports, Choo’s fantasy output (.841) is similar to those of Alex Rios (.841) and Torii Hunter (.841), two guys who will be drafted light-years before anyone even considers giving Choo the time of day.
MARCEL provides the most favorable points/plate-appearance projection for Choo (.87); placing him in the top-20 OVERALL. That’s right. Choo denied Chase Utley a finish in the Top-20 (Utley was 21… not bad).
Of all the players Choo weighs in above, one thing is for certain: your outfield CAN be built late. In a draft where you’re more concerned with position eligibility, be sure to have post it with “Shin-Soo Choo” written on it somewhere in your notes. He has the potential to hit 20-25 home runs for Cleveland in 2009 while maintaining a ~.300 BA.
That all said, don’t rely on him as a guaranteed 3rd outfielder in your league. Draft him as a high-end 4th and watch what happens. I’m not saying he’s going to be the next Carlos Quentin, but you could definitely do a lot worse than having the 2009 version of Rick Ankiel at your disposal.
(Side-note: If you believe in the “Age-27” Breakout Theory… then Choo’s also turning 27 this season. Enjoy.)