Fantasy Baseball Value of Shin-Soo Choo in Cincinnati


Shin-Soo Choo

Same state, different value. Image from Keith Allison

The wheels of the Hot Stove season are continuing to burn with a three-team trade between the Reds, Indians, and Diamondbacks. Before we go on with the fantasy value of this, let’s quickly sum up who’s going where.

Stubbs has decent power (though you can do better from the outfield position, and his batting average has been in constant decline since making his debut in 2009. That’s really bad, since the average in 2009 was only .267. He bottomed out at .213 in 2012.

Bauer is a fantastic prospect. If you haven’t done so, I’d suggest you read Clave’s take on him from last April. Clave knows his prospects and his take on Bauer is really interesting. As a Giants fan, it doesn’t bother me that he’s not only leaving the NL West, but the NL altogether.

But we’re here to talk about Choo, so let’s get to it. How will he do moving across Ohio to the Reds? Today, I want to leave you guys all on a good note, so we’ll start with the bad and move to the good. Shall we?

The Bad

I don’t necesarilly think that Choo is a guy you draft for big power numbers, but those are going to take a hit here. This is what Reds’ General Manager Walt Jocketty told MLB.com (via Zack Meisel).

“He fills the one big void that we had…and that was a leadoff hitter and someone with the ability to get on base from the top of the order. It’s an area of our club that has been lacking the last few years.”

Obviously, your RBI numbers are going to take something of a hit when you bat leadoff, especially in the National League, as the pitcher bats right in front of you when the lineup turns over.

As for steals, Choo’s been right around 20 for most of his full seasons in the majors. The National League is a bit more of a steal-heavy league, but I’d imagine Dusty Baker will be hesitant to turn Choo loose on the bases with the hitters behind him. Stubbs stole 30 bases in 136 games in 2012, and Choo is not anywhere near that fast. So, in Cincinnati, I wouldn’t look for his steal numbers to increase, although I doubt they decrease a heck of a lot.

There is one other potentially bad thing that I see, and it relates to the Reds’ late inning production in close games. What to Choo, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce all have in common? Well, they all now occupy spots near the top of the Cincinnati order, but they’re also all left handed. Teams with strong left-handed relievers can counter their strong bats late in the game, which serves as a potential hindrance. Obviously you need as many quality chances as possible to produce good numbers and against the right pitchers, they may not have the ideal chances to produce in a big way.

 

The Good

The last part there is a hindrance, but not every team has lefties that can shut down those types of hitters late in games. Actually, very few do. As if that wasn’t enough, keep in mind that guys like Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips, and Ryan Ludwick will be there to stagger the lineup a little if need be. So, it’s something to consider, but I wouldn’t take that thought too far.

Also, while the RBI numbers will certainly go down, batting leadoff in that lineup makes 100 runs scored highly probable if Choo stays healthy. His previous career high in runs came in 2012 with 88. In Cincinnati, he should blow right by that.

Also, by looking at the Baseball-Reference profile of the 2012 Indians and Reds, you can see how their respective parks are ranked over the years.

  • Progressive Field: Batting – 93, Pitching – 95
  • Great American Ballpark: Batting – 107, Pitching – 107

Translation: The Great American Ballpark is better for hitting, and it’s not even close.

There’s one other thing I’d like for you guys to consider.

The Cincinnati outfield looks like it will comprise of Choo, Ludwick, and Bruce most of the time. Those of you who play in leagues where individual outfield positions are counted know that center field isn’t exactly the deepest position. Sure, Josh Hamilton, Bryce Harper, Matt Kemp, Andrew McCutchen, and Mike Trout all play there, but it’s nowhere near as deep as right field is.

With this trade, Choo or Bruce (possibly both) will pick up center field eligibility during the 2013 season and if they play there enough, will possibly keep it through through at least 2014.

So, by numbers alone, I am expecting Choo to produce better fantasy numbers. But when you factor in that this trade could make possibly Choo and Bruce pick up center field eligibility, it becomes a real hidden gem for fantasy owners.

Tags: Cincinnati Reds Fantasy Baseball Rankings Jay Bruce Outfield Shin Soo Choo