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Deep Digging: Shin-Soo Choo and You Can Too!

I woke up this morning (crazy, I know), logged on to one of my public leagues and was blown away when I saw the following transaction:

Choo, Shin-Soo RF CLE -Dropped

Excuse my French, but f*#@ the heck??? For real, player? Is this what it's come to? Dropping Shin-Soo Choo? Just outright cutting him? Ugh. Join me after the jump and we'll dig into this sad, sordid affair.

Let's be clear about something from the start: Choo has been terrible this season. Putrid. In 61 games he's got a .234/.316/..346 triple slash line, five home runs, 26 runs, 23 RBI and nine steals. It's safe to say owners who invested in him were hoping for quite a bit more than this. From 2008-2010 his lowest OBP was .394, his lowest ISO was .184. His lowest average was .300. The guy's a hitter.

It's been a tough season for him on and off the field. On the field? Poor performance. Off the field? This well-publicized DUI last month. So is his poor 2011 season explained away by luck? Or is there something more troubling at work: a change in approach, an injury, etc?

Choo's .290 batting average on balls in play would seem fair for most players at first blush, but when you consider that last year's .347 BABIP was the lowest of his professional career it seems a tad low. From 2008-2010 Choo posted BABIPs of .367, .370 and .347, respectively. Drilling down further into his batted ball data, it's even more clear that he's been unlucky. His BABIP on grounders is an uncommonly low mark of .141. From 2008-2010? .313, .239 and .251. Choo's batting average is about 55-65 points below his career marks, and this batted ball data implies that he's had poor luck in that department. Is he "hitting them where they are instead of where they aint" as Michael Barr suggested on Fangraphs last month? I'd say so, yeah. A regression to his career mean seems likely from here out. Then again, it's seemed likely for awhile.

Choo should also expect better fortune going forward with his HR/FB ratio. Currently at just 8.5% because he hasn't hit a single homer off a lefthander this year, that number should jump back more towards his career levels of 12-16%, which will in turn raise his ISO from his current sub-par .113 back closer to his well established career levels.

Choo told last week that he's been pressing, and has had a hard time dealing with the DUI. While that may be the case, it's not really born out by his the data underlying his performance. His line drive rate is very healthy (21.3%), and has actually gone up significantly since his May arrest. His walks are pretty stable since the arrest. Strikeouts are down significantly so far in June. He hasn't expanded his strike zone. His swinging strike rate is similar to career levels. He's

If I'm a guy in a league where someone bails on Shin-Soo Choo (and hey, wait, I am!) and I need some help in the outfield ... yeah I'm all over that. Shin-Soo Choo from here on out equals buy, buy, BUY.