Looking Back At What Was: Right Field

Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, of South Korea, at bat in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White sox at Progressive Field in Cleveland on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. UPI/David Richard Photo via Newscom
Source: Yardbarker.com

Note: This is the first in a series of posts looking back at the realities of the Indians 2010 season. We’ll look at what was hoped for, what actually happened, and what the expectations are going forward at the position in 2011.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of a series of season review posts about this 2010 team. When I decided to write them, I figured I’d start with the only position on the field where the Indians can be happy about the production they are getting: right field.

Baseball fans, it’s long overdue that you’ve met Shin-Soo Choo.

Sure, you’ve heard of Choo, probably even remember him for his funny-sounding name. But unless you live in Cleveland, or are a displaced Indians fan, you probably don’t realize just how good he’s been.

Choo had improved on already decent numbers in 2009 after an injury-shortened 2008. Choo posted a .394 OBP (with an .883 OPS), with 20 HRs and 21 steals. With a cannon for an arm on defense, he was expected to tandem with Grady Sizemore to anchor the offense.

Choo more than lived up to his end of the bargain, posting similar numbers of an .401 OBP (.885 OPS) with 22 HRs and 22 steals, despite a wrist injury that robbed him of much of July (and even seemed to sap his power until a late-season power surge) and the opportunity to represent the Indians in the All-Star Game.

Well, seeing as Choo is the only sure thing in the Indians lineup, I think it’s safe to say he will make it to the 2011 game, barring injury. But the biggest uncertainty with Choo has nothing to do with his performance. It has everything to do with his agent, Scott Boras, who is known for getting top dollar for his client, something the Indians can’t afford to do. So it’s soon going to be up to the Indians to swallow hard and decide if they are going to pony up for Choo’s services. And then there’s that nagging issue of Choo’s military service requirement, which could be a moot point if the Korean team can win the Asian Games. If not, it may force the Indians’ hand a little sooner than they expected.

What I expect from Choo depends a lot on the team the Indians field around him. If Carlos Santana and Sizemore can bounce back from injuries to become offensive forces, then Choo has a lot of pressure taken off him and teams will not be able to pitch around him (11 intentional walks in 2010). Choo isn’t a perfect player, as evidenced by his 11 double plays he’s grounded into. But with a better lineup around him, Choo won’t have the burden of having to carry this offense by himself.

Tags: Carlos Santana Grady Sizemore Shin Soo Choo