Every year, I like to look for players who played through nagging injuries in the season prior, resulting in below career average results. These players are good bets to rebound if: 1. they've fully healed and 2. they aren't over the hill. I like targeting these players because you can generally get them at a discount on draft day, resulting in surplus value if they return to something near their career norms. Shin Soo Choo is the player who stands out most to me that fits that profile. His 2014 season was plagued by injuries; Choo played the entire season with an elbow injury and most of the season with an ankle injury. Choo hurt his ankle on April 21 stepping on first base awkwardly, and at the time of his ankle injury, he was hitting .314/.432/.500 with a 160 wRC+. After the injury, Choo hit just .229/.322/.351 with an 88 wRC+. Some of that drop was regression, but most of it was because of how badly his ankle limited him. Choo also had a huge drop in stolen bases last season because of that ankle.
Choo said he regretted rushing back from the injury:
"I made a bad decision," Choo said of coming back from his April 21 sprained ankle within 10 days.
When Choo suffered the injury, the Rangers were already dealing with a rash of injuries. Choo agreed to bypass the DL at the time to try and keep some semblance of offense in the lineup. The ankle, however, has not gotten significantly better, and Choo’s performance has gotten significantly worse.
After having surgery to fix both his ankle and elbow, Choo appears to be fully healed. This, from Jeff Wilson on Twitter back in January:
Shin-Soo Choo says he feels "too good" six weeks out from spring training. Is doing all baseball activities. #Rangers— Jeff Wilson (@JeffWilson_FWST) January 10, 2015
Choo is also moving to right field in 2015 to give him a smaller area to cover in the field with the design on reducing the impact on his body.
At age 32, in just year 2 of a 7 year mega deal, I don't think Choo is over the hill. He was one of the most highly sought after free agents just one offseason ago and the Texas Rangers, a smart organization, believed in him enough to give him a 7 year deal.
Choo's ADP in Yahoo leagues is currently 169, which is way lower than his normal fantasy value in a healthy year. He has a career .282 AVG, .383 OBP and 131 wRC+, and generally steals 20 bases per year. I think Choo is a strong candidate to bounce back in 2015 and provide good draft day value. He has a full spring to shake off any rust, and Texas is a great home park to play 81 games in. I expect a return to something near his career line: .275-.280 AVG, 17-20 HR and 15-20 SB.