Shin-Soo Choo may not only be one of the best lead off hitters in baseball, but he is also swinging the bat like one of the best overall hitters as well.
Choo saw continued success on Tuesday night, hitting two home runs, including a walk-off solo shot off of Craig Kimbrel. This gives him seven homers on the season with 15 RBI and an average of .333. Choo’s big night bumped him up to the number seven spot among fantasy outfielders base off of Yahoo! points leagues, but while he is certainly impressing thus far, a question remains.
Is Choo a legitimate top tier fantasy outfielder?
I certainly think so. I mean, a few weeks back I traded a superstar like Matt Kemp and in return, received Choo, his teammate Jay Bruce and Starlin Castro. Giving up Kemp was difficult, but I am a firm believer in what Choo is doing this season. Sporting a current on base percentage of .465, which is tied with Miguel Cabrera for the league lead, Choo has undoubtedly been the most efficient number one hitter in all of baseball. His walk rate (12.7%) is the highest it’s been in two seasons, and his strikeout rate (17.7%) is the lowest he’s had throughout his entire major league career. Quietly, Choo has almost always been an efficient lead off man. While he was an under-the-radar guy in Cleveland, Choo still got on base frequently, sporting a career OBP of .385, which ranks 10th among active players.
While I am certainly loving the production I am getting out of him, many people are waiting for Choo to come down to earth. To that, I deliver a message;
Sure, a bit of regression is obviously on the way, but why can’t Choo finish the season as a top 20 fantasy outfielder? The early season power surge is very believable, seeing as he has hit 20 home runs twice in his career, though is more likely a 13-17 guy. Still, the move to Cincinnati is doing wonders for his HR/FB ratio (25.9%) and hitting in Great American Ballpark for half of the season should allow him to continue hitting for power at the top of the order. All of these numbers are terrific and promising, and we haven’t even touched on his run production. Choo currently leads the National League with 27 runs scored, and batting lead off in a powerful Reds’ lineup that ranks 6th in the majors in runs (156), Choo could be as safe a bet as any to lead the NL in that department. I would mention him as a candidate to lead the entire majors, but I believe Austin Jackson of the Tigers has that title locked up.
Clearly, I am very high on the 30-year old Choo. One, because I own him on my fantasy roster, and two, because I honestly think he is as good as advertised. Manager Dusty Baker seems to agree with me.
“He’s only going to get, I think, better once he knows the [National] league,” Baker said. “Right now he’s going on video and word of mouth from people until he forms his own book, so to speak.”
High praise from the skipper, no?
Choo is a multi-faceted outfielder who has legitimate power, shows good plate discipline and will finish the season as one of fantasy’s most well-rounded, most productive outfielders.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.