The other day I posted an article on how I thought Adam Dunn would bounce back this year and be a candidate as the comeback player of the year. I thought why not continue with this topic and talk about other guys that I view as a comeback player of the year candidate. Next up is Cleveland Indians right fielder, Shin-Soo Choo.
Prior to last year, Choo had been posting great numbers year after year. Our own Jonathan Mitchell wrote an article prior to the 2011 season on just how underrated Choo is. Many expected big things from Choo in 2011 including myself. Unfortunately, Choo started off the year slow and was sidelined for much of 2011 with a broken thumb after being hit by a pitch during the middle of June. He did comeback in mid-August to finish out the year strong though. Overall in 2011 he hit .259/.344/.390 with 8 homeruns and 12 stolen bases in 358 plate appearances. Not horrible but it just wasn’t what he had posted in the last couple years and not what people expected of him. With 2011 behind him though, I think Choo is due to bounce back.
Prior to 2011, for the last couple seasons, Choo had been hitting around .300 with a .400 OBP and 20-20 numbers. He had been performing as one of the best right fielders in the league. He had great BB numbers, average strikeout numbers, and a great WAR. His WAR in 2010 was an impressive 5.9. Choo is still young at the age of 29, so you have to like his chances even more for bouncing back this year, especially if he can stay healthy.
One possible reason for Choo’s decline was his BABIP, which always seems to be a reason for a players decline or breakout. His BABIP for 2011 was .317 and when looking at that number, you may not think it looks bad at all. Well for the last couple seasons his BABIP had been in the mid to upper .300s and he has consistently been able to post a BABIP in that range. The power numbers just also weren’t there for Choo as his ISO dropped from .184, in 2010, to .131 in 2011.
Another interesting reason why Choo could have possibly declined in 2011 was the fact that he has shown he is a slow starter. Looking at his career first and second half splits, his second half splits are better across the board. When you look at his monthly splits, he has a career average above .300 in only two months and those are August and September. Well Choo’s injury in 2011, knocked him out for much of the second half of the season, which didn’t really allow him to start to get going as he has done in the past. In August and Septmber, when Choo did come back from the injury, he posted his best numbers of the year hitting .340/.404/.596 in 52 plate appearances.
Yes, Choo was a disappointment in 2011 but you have to think that he will bounce back in 2012. Both Bill James and Roto Champ project him to hit around .280 with close to 20 homeruns and 20 stolen bases. Fantasy owners might just get a nice steal on him in drafts a little later then he would typically go.