2011 Projection: Can Shin-Soo Choo Take The Next Step?

I have always had one major concern with Shin-Soo Choo and that was his average.  Those concerns came courtesy of a consistently elevated BABIP, but back-to-back 20/20 seasons certainly help to assuage these concerns.  It’s hard not to like an outfielder who posted the following numbers in 2010:

550 At Bats
.300 Batting Average (165 Hits)
22 Home Runs
90 RBI
81 Runs
22 Stolen Bases
.401 On Base Percentage
.484 Slugging Percentage
.347 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The average concerns continue to be legitimate.  He’s had at least 300 at bats in a season for the past three years, posting the following BABIP:

  • 2008 – .367
  • 2009 – .370
  • 2010 – .347

Clearly, his stolen base totals show that he has speed, so maybe he can legitimately continue to post these elevated marks, but it’s certainly no guarantee.  Yes, he did show an improvement in his strikeout rate at 21.5% (he had been 24.6% and 25.9% the prior two years), but if the luck decreases he will no longer be a .300 hitter.

Is he going to regress all the way down to the .260s?  Not likely, but he certainly could fall to the .280 range or so, especially if the improvement in strikeouts is a façade.

It’s hard to argue with the rest of the numbers.  He’s likely to join Carlos Santana in the middle of the order, meaning there should be ample opportunities for him to continue to both drive in and score runs.  He was solid with runners in scoring position (.311, 8 HR, 66 RBI), as he also was in 2009 (.287, 6 HR, 66 RBI). 

If both Grady Sizemore and Santana can return healthy, things only look all the more appealing.  The top of the lineup would certainly appear solid, and could be a force for several years to come.

The power has come based off of realistic HR/FB (which in 2010 was at 14.6%).  His fly ball rate has been as consistent as possible (36.1%, 36.1% and 35.0%).  There is just no reason to think that anything will be different in 2011 or beyond.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at what I would expect from him in 2011:

.285 (164-575), 21 HR, 90 RBI, 85 R, 24 SB, .341 BABIP, .381 OBP, .468 SLG

Those are solid numbers for any player and would mean that Choo would be a Top 20 outfielder at year’s end.  While it’s not likely that he takes the next step and become an OF1, he’s going to continue to be a solid option in all formats.  He’s an OF2 and is certainly someone you should be targeting on draft day with his ability to contribute in all five categories.

What are your thoughts?  How good could he be?  What type of numbers would you expect from him?

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

The Fantasy Fallout of the NL East's Stacked Pitching
Cliff Lee Signs With The Phillies

12 comments

  1. TY says:

    he’s the korean bobby abreau….. 20/20 and hits .300

    I dont think he regresses, only thing that holds him back is he’s an indian, but even good players put up stats on bad teams

  2. Kyle Johansen says:

    I’m wondering why he is not considered an OF1 right now? The Bobby Abreu mention seems spot on, and wasn’t Abreu a perrenial second rounder in his prime?

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Kyle, Abreu was also a 100/100 guy, which Choo just isn’t right now. While 20/20 is great, if he is in the 85/90 range, he’s just not going to be one of the elite players at his position. A very good option, but there are others I’d rather have before him.

  4. Abreu was way more effective. He also topped 30 stolen bases routinely.

  5. Pete says:

    This is a good analysis and I think the counting stats are very solid production, but I think you hae a misuse of babip. Numeruous studies now show that babip does not regress to some magical mean (most people assume somewhere around .300) and that players have a good deal of control over their babip. One would assume that a guy whom scouts call a “pure hitter” like Choo would have more control over where the ball goes and thus post higher babips. For example, Ichiro babip is .357 for his career. Indeed, Choo has a reputation of being an excellent place hitter and now that we have 3 years worth of data showing a babip of over .347, I think it’s foolish to expect a great regression.

    Choo should be looked at as a very solid bet to post an avg of .300, and with slight improvements in the lineup around him could even post 100 R and/or RBI. He’s an excellent hitter in his prime and should be seen as a 1st tier (or 1a) OF.

    Thanks, and keep up the great work!

  6. OF2 is a pretty good projection. You can’t say he’s “elite”, but he will be on the roster of many a winning fantasy team in 2011.

  7. Brock Sampson says:

    If you are in a league that uses OBP instead of AVG, like I am, I think he makes the jump up to an OF1.

    I know I’m counting on Choo and CarGo to anchor my OF in that league for a long while.

  8. Rotoprofessor says:

    Pete – I’m not suggesting that he posts a .300 BABIP, but even if he falls to .340 (as I projected), with an increase of strikeouts he’s no longer a .300 hitter. My projection has him at about 23.5% (right between his 2009 and 2010 marks).

    I’m not suggesting he’s going to struggle to the point of .260, but I’m not willing to call him a lock for .300, either.

  9. TY says:

    Choo could hit anywhere from .275-.315 easily next year. As for the 85/90 range for runs/rbi’s thats not exactly Choo’s fault, i mean he is an Indian… (my team btw).

    Fantasy wise I’d take him in the 5th to 6th round of a 12 teamer and be happy with KNOWING what I’m getting. Rather than taking a werth on a new team, or the overrated markakis (hopefully some people are still “hoping” he’s maturing, not me), or many others that have issues/inconsistencies…

  10. Kyle Johansen says:

    My reasoning for possibly labeling Choo as an OF1 was just that he was the #24 player overall in 5×5 leagues last year and the 10th best OF (and that’s with Jose Bautista and Juan Pierre ranked ahead of him). If he can duplicate his past couple years, and with him now in his prime, I wouldn’t hesitate to take him a little earlier than most.

  11. Sam says:

    I think Choo will improve. His homerun numbers will increase to somewhere around 30. His HR production increased as the the season went and he is now clearly getting to figure out how to hit HRs.
    I agree that his avg wont stay at .300 as his power number goes up. I would think .285
    RBI will reach almost 100.

  12. Sam says:

    and also.. now that his military obligation has been exempted (as S Korea won the Asian Olympic in baseball), he feels a lot relieved, he feels a lot more comfortable now.
    I do believe it will help him.

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