Shin-Soo Choo Keys Cincinnati Reds' Offensive Explosion Over Miami Marlins

By Thom Tsang
David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

From Todd Frazier‘s three-run triple, to Joey Votto‘s third homer of the 2013 season, you’ll find no shortage of offensive heroes after the Cincinnati Reds‘ 10-6 (not as close as it looks) rout of the Miami Marlins on Sunday.

Where it all started and ended, however, was with Shin-Soo Choo.

In fact, until the leadoff man sparked a eight-run offensive explosion in the seventh inning, the two teams had actually been involved in a 2-2 deadlock, with the potential for Cincinnati to come out of the weekend with a disappointing series split looming rather large.

Choo, though, made sure it wouldn’t happen. It all began with an innocent-looking walk — something he’d done in 11.4 percent of his career plate appearances. The next thing you knew, the 30-year old found himself at the plate again, the team had just scored six runs, and the center fielder ended a very bad day for Jon Rauch with a RBI double on a 3-2 count.

Just to top it off, he came around the plate to score the final Reds run of the inning.

Forget for a moment the brief and unlikely display of baseball symmetry — what the seventh inning really highlights is just how much value Choo has for the Reds, whether it’s a simple act of getting on base to rattle the opposing pitcher or using his power to deliver the final dagger.

The team’s big offseason acquisition has been all that, and then some. Buoyed by a sky-high .469 BABIP, Choo’s  .382/.523/.632 triple-slash through 89 PA makes him not only the best leadoff man in MLB right now, but one of the game’s best players, period.

It isn’t all luck, either — the outfielder is zoned in on the baseball these days, hitting everything hard (25 percent line drive rate vs. 22.1 percent career, no infield hits thus far).

Now, the incredible 219 wRC+ and 1.155 OPS won’t hold through the season, but that he has a career-low 18 percent strikeout rate through nearly 100 PA is a strong sign that Choo could be on his way to topping his 5.9 fWAR career year in 2010.

He did get all almost all of his crooked numbers in one inning on Sunday, but that he has the ability to make that happen just goes further to show how much he can affect the Reds’ offense as their once-missing piece of the puzzle.

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