Despite spending just one season with the Cincinnati Reds, Shin-Soo Choo was the team’s best centerfielder of the past decade.
Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo recently made the news when he generously pledged $1,000 to every minor league player in the team’s farm system. At a time where sports nostalgia is in high demand, let’s look back at Choo’s time in a Cincinnati Reds uniform. Despite spending just one season in Cincinnati, Choo was the team’s best centerfielder from the past decade.
After a great 2012 season in which the Reds won the National League Central Division with a 97-65 record, the club still needed to add some firepower going into 2013. The front office decided to find the final piece of the puzzle for their offense.
Drew Stubbs manned center field for the Reds in 2012, but only posting a .213/.277/.333 slash line urged the Reds to look elsewhere for a quality outfielder. The club decided to bring in veteran outfielder Shin-Soo Choo on a one-year deal worth $7.3M.
After battling injuries early in his career, Choo fell in place after he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in 2006. Choo compiled a .285 batting average over a four year period from 2009-2012, including 66 home runs and 279 RBI. The left-handed hitting Choo decided to bet on himself with his deal in Cincinnati, and that risk definitely paid off.
Opening Day in 2013 was when Choo introduced himself to Reds Country. Going 2-for-5 in a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. However, it was in the third game of that series when Choo hit his first home run sending the crowd into hysterics.
Choo continued to impress Reds fans all year long, making dazzling plays in center field, gunning runners out, and continuing to hit at an MVP-candidate’s pace. On May 7th, in a game against the Atlanta Braves, Choo sent Great American Ball Park into a frenzy.
Down 4-3 with two outs in the 9th inning, Devin Mesoraco hit a game-tying blast to right-center field off Braves lockdown closer Craig Kimbrel. Choo followed with an opposite-field shot to walk it off for his 7th home run of the season.
Looking back at his 2013 campaign put something in perspective. Shin-Soo Choo is the Reds best centerfielder of the past decade, and in all honesty it isn’t even close. His .285/.423/.462 season was good enough to be in consideration for NL MVP, which truthfully blows Billy Hamilton and Drew Stubbs out of the water.
The decision to bet on himself definitely was a good one. Choo signed a 7-year/$130M contract with the Texas Rangers that offseason. It’s no question the Reds would miss Choo’s offensive production from the leadoff spot over the next few seasons.
The Redlegs are looking to get that production back when they are able to get back on a diamond. Whether it’s from Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel, or Jesse Winker, it’ll be a tall task to try to top that stellar 2013 campaign.