Shin Soo Choo has been around for a while. I know this because I’m a pretty sentimental person. I’m the guy who stops walking when he smells a familiar fragrance, trying to pinpoint the memory. (Generally it’s an ex and nausea immediately follows.) I’m the guy who starts crying when someone quotes The Matrix, and I’m all smiles when I see how much Lego sets cost nowadays. (So much money saved by being an 80’s kid.) And of course being part Korean, Choo was a cornerstone to almost every one of my fantasy teams the last decade, because racism or something. Choo has also been entwined with my long history of content here at Razzball as a vehicle for kimchi jokes, because racism or something. But despite all that racism, there is another trend I’m noticing, and that’s I really have to remember to draft him this season. Granted, there are some red flags in his profile that we’ll address, but despite waxing poetic about how all my ex’s make me sick, I wanted to make sure you didn’t forget about Shin Soo Choo either…
Listed currently as a Top-60 Outfielder here at Razzball (54 to be exact), we have him right ahead of Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and right behind Andrew McCutchen (which is another interesting candidate coming off an injury).
“The Seoul Train’s last season was so remarkable (24/15) at the age of 37, and it didn’t seem to get that much recognition. Don Koreanlius deserves major props and all the galbi beef he can eat, but he had a shoulder procedure this offseason, so not sure he can still do the Soo Choo Slide.” – Grey
Okay, despite Grey making me hungry by mentioning galbi, he’s completely right to focus on Choo’s shoulder procedure, but what this post presupposes is: there’s still plenty of value here to take a low-cost gamble. The fact that his left AC joint was scoped and he’s the wrong side of 30, a bit of anxiety with his projections makes some sense. After the past three seasons of wRC+ growth (104 to 118 to 124) in line with his ISO and slugging percentage growing 40 and 56 points from 2018 to 2019, respectively, a shoulder ailment is about the worst thing that could happen, sapping power and quite possibly disrupting his mechanics and affecting his entire hitting profile. Shoulder issues are major, but despite not being a doctor like my mother wanted, I do know how to use Google like a boss (decidedly what my mother did not want). And because of that, I found a comparison!
Josh Hamilton had the same procedure back in 2015. Granted, every single body part of his had spent time on the DL by that point, but not for his shoulder. His shoulder wanted to be a pioneer, I guess. And despite this being his last season in the majors and only managed to play in 50 games, there were still some encouraging signs for Choo. Take a look at Hamilton’s power profile:
I’ll grant you that his 2015 numbers are based on just 182 plate appearances and we always want a bigger sample size (that’s what she said), but I’d add this: one of the other notable players to have his shoulder AC scoped was Mariano Rivera. I won’t be sharing any batting numbers of his for obvious reasons, but read this interesting tidbit on his specific recovery:
Patients with AC joint arthritis typically have pain on top of their shoulder right above the joint, and the pain is exacerbated when the arm is brought in front of the chest. In baseball players, this motion would occur right after the ball is released during the throwing motion… [Source.]
It’s important to note that the main information regarding this procedure, in terms of baseball players, is really just based on its affects on pitchers. Throwing motion is what we should most be concerned about, seeing as how most of the pain comes when the motion ends and the arm arrives at it’s resting destination. So while obviously this may affect Shin Soo Choo, I’m not sure his injury and his recovery were as detrimental to his actual swing as first expected, and Hamilton’s improved numbers speak to that.
Granted, in the past six seasons, Choo’s roughly had three that have been awesome and three have been, well, not awesome, but he’s batted .264/.374/.444 with 45 home runs and 61 doubles in the past two seasons and besides normal aging being a factor in his projections, I think we can price out the injury and realize the immense value he can bring in 2020. How much value? Let’s take a look at some Steamer projections for these six players who have very similar hitting profiles:
All six players provide some power, some speed and don’t really hurt your ratio stats. While you may be able to recognize some of these players based on their projections (show off!), the point here is to locate potential value. In terms of what your paying for earlier in the draft that you could have found later in the draft, that savings could very well be a wrinkle that nets your team an advantage. Is there really that much of a difference between the 176th ranked player (spoiler alert!) and the 57th ranked player? I’d say no, but just in case, let’s figure out who all these players are…
|Lourdes Gurriel Jr.||149|
You should definitely draft guys like Ramon Laureano and Tommy Pham, I mean, I wouldn’t mind any of these players finding their way on my team. All I’m saying is, don’t forget about Shin-Soo Choo. Many already have…
Jay is a longtime Razzball everything who consumes an egregious amount of Makers Mark as a vehicle to gain wisdom and augment his natural glow. Living in the D.C. area, he also likes spending time visiting the local parks and feeding lettuce to any turtles he encounters, including Mitch McConnell. You can follow him @jaywrong, or read his rarely (like never) updated blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow.