Reds in 2013: Shin-Soo Choo


One of the newest Reds will be the focus of today’s “Reds in 2013” feature: Shin-Soo Choo. Choo was acquired the other day in a deal that sent Twitter into meltdown mode. Well, almost. The deal was as follows:

The Reds acquired from Choo, Jason Donald and cash from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for Drew Stubbs and Didi Gregorius. The Indians sent Gregorius, Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp to the Arizona Diamondbacks and acquired Trevor Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw.

Ever since the trade was announced, there has been a ton of chatter concerning the 30 year old from South Korea. More on that after you take a view at what Choo has produced offensively…

In regards to the Bill James projections via Fangraphs, here is what we might expect from Choo for 2013…

Offensively speaking, this is an extreme delight knowing this is the potential coming out of the Reds top spot. Cincinnati hasn’t exactly had production from the #1 spot in recent years. In fact, the Reds have sorely needed a lead-off guy for about half a decade, maybe even longer.

Aug 27, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Choo makes a sliding catch against the Oakland A’s during the first inning at Progressive Field. (David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

In the 155 games Choo played in 2012, he was the lead-off guy for the Cleveland Indians in 99. In those 99 games, he posted a triple slash of .310/.389/.493. He was also inserted into the #3 spot in 41 games (.227/.339/.338), but with not near the success he attained batting atop the Tribe’s lineup.

In looking at the projections, you might wonder if there would need to be a tweak or two. GABP is far more hitter-friendly than Progressive. The home runs and runs scored might see a slight bump. There isn’t much of a difference in Progressive Field in Cleveland and Great American Ball Park as far as the dimensions are concerned.

Progressive – Left field: 325 ft.; left-center: 370 ft.; center field: 405 ft.; right-center: 375 ft.; right field: 325 ft.
Great American – Left field: 328 ft.; left field power alley: 379 ft.; center field: 404 ft.; right field power alley: 370 ft.; right field: 325 ft.
(Stadium dimensions taken from

The big difference is the left field wall being 19 feet high in Cleveland versus 12 feet in Cincy.

In looking at Choo’s home runs from last season (via ESPN Home Run Tracker), only one of his 16 big flies could be considered as possibly not being a home run at GABP. That one was hit at Angel Stadium, also known as being pitcher-friendly. You know what that result would most likely be at GABP.

The primary concern must be Choo’s ability to play center field. There is a little debate that Choo’s right field defense has taken a slight decline over the past season or two. There has even been fan speak of the possibility of Jay Bruce moving over to cover center field (for one season) so that Choo can play his customary right field position. It’s a gamble Reds GM Walt Jocketty and his staff are willing to take.

Don’t let appearances fool you. Choo is known as an excellent athlete with some speed, so adjusting to a new position will have its challenges, but he should be up to the task. He also possesses a nice arm. Over the past four seasons (2009-2012), he has 11, 14, 9, and 7 outfield assists in those seasons. His range might be just god enough to roan center at GABP. No, it’s not on par with the now-departed Drew Stubbs (I don’t think anyone can be), but it should be sufficient although it is no guarantee.

I will repeat from what I said the other day, I’m not completely on board with the Reds new defense alignment, but I can certainly get on board Choo hitting atop the Reds lineup. Yes, pun intended…

Oh, and speaking of all the Choo-related puns I’m seeing, this one is by far the best…

This is well played…