Shin-Soo Choo Now An NL-Only Target


You know him from his AL work, but he's in a new park, too.

Spoiler alert: NL-only owners are going to want to draft Shin-Soo Choo in 2013. Consider this your introduction to him, though, a way to slot him in among those players you're already familiar with. This is especially necessary given the new park and league that he's playing in.

Choo is moving from a park that benefited left-handed power to one that boosts it even further. It's no surprise that, in his seven seasons with the Indians, Choo hit .301/.394/.498 at Progressive Field, and owns a career OPS roughly 80 points lower than that on the road. He's still a useful hitter outside of his home park, thanks to patience that translates everywhere -- Choo owns a .371 road on-base percentage in over 1,500 plate appearances -- but the same kind of pop hasn't existed outside of Cleveland.

In Great American Ballpark, this shouldn't be an issue. It's very likely he'll continue to pummel the ball at home, and do enough on the road that the splits aren't a problem. Progressive has boosted homers by 21 percent for left-handed batters over the last three years, but, over the same time period, GAB has done so at a 37 percent rate. It's one of the most extreme parks for lefty homers in the majors, and Choo isn't about to feel homesick by moving there.

He'll also get to spend some divisional play in parks that boost left-handed power, as the Brewers play in an extreme lefty park, while some of the pitcher's parks in the division aren't quite as bad for lefties as for right-handers.

The other thing to concern yourself with is where Choo is hitting in the lineup. The plan is to have Choo lead off, and batting leadoff in the National League means that his runs batted in opportunities are likely not going to recover to the rates he put up during some of his better years in Cleveland. Choo has spent most of his career batting third, but led off in 98 games in 2012. This resulted in just 67 RBI, and it's likely that's about as lofty as things can get in 2013.

What he will have in Cincinnati that he didn't have in Cleveland, though, are legitimate threats in the lineup behind him. Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips... these guys are going to drive Choo in often, especially since he tends to be on base all of the time even in a down season. That's going to boost his run totals up considerably: pair that with around 20 homers and 20 steals, for a guy who has hit .289 in his career with a .381 on-base percentage, and it's clear that Choo is going to be one of the more-valuable fantasy pieces around in any format.

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