Shin-Soo Choo made fantasy baseball owners proud over the 2009 and 2010 seasons with the Cleveland Indians, carrying a .300 batting average each year while hitting at least 20 home runs and stealing over 20 bases. An injury-plagued 2011 campaign did some damage to his fantasy value, however, and last season wasn’t a whole lot better.
Now with the Cincinnati Reds, the outfielder is healthy and ready to thrive in his new home.
Some players struggle to make the transition from one league to other and that may be the case for Choo out of the gate, but he’s a 30-year-old vet with an extremely consistent bat that should be capable of adjusting quicker than most. Plus, while the Indians may have some talented young bats in their lineup, none are as refined as the teammates Choo has found in Cincy.
First baseman Joey Votto is a former NL MVP, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce can both handle their own and guys like Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier make great complementary pieces. Frazier blossomed quickly as a rookie in 2012 and contributed with 19 HR and 67 RBI in just 422 at-bats.
This lineup in Cincy is much more potent than what Cleveland had to offer and that obviously only works in Choo’s favor. The Reds are stacked with hitters in the middle of their lineup and, slated to hit lead-off, their newest addition will get the honor of setting the table for them all. With Phillips, Votto and Bruce hitting directly behind him in the lineup, it’s very conceivable to think Choo could score 100 runs for the first time in his career if he avoids the dreaded disabled list.
If Choo can get back to where he was just a couple of years ago, Cincy’s lineup will become an even bigger fantasy goldmine. He needs to cut down on strikeouts in favor of more walks, but he’s already proven capable of drawing 75-80 walks a year and that would work wonders for his stolen base and run totals.
After two less than impressive and injury-marred seasons in Cleveland, Choo’s draft stock is low enough where you can likely wait grab him in the middle rounds after securing a top outfielder or two. Just don’t be surprised if, when all is said and done, he matches the production of one of those outfielders you drafted before him.