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Hee Choi, Best Foreign Rookie of the Year, Predicts CNN Si

Hee Choi, Best Foreign Rookie of the Year, Predicts CNN Si

Posted April. 24, 2003 22:10,   


Who will be the best foreign rookie this season? This has to be the Yankees` Hideki Matsui, right? Well, maybe not. It may be wise to take a look at the season the Cubs` Hee Seop Choi is putting together before jumping to any conclusions.

The above paragraph was put on the headline of an online sports magazine Sports Illustrated www.sportsillustrated.cnn.com. The magazine puts Choi on the same plane with Matsui.

The magazine says, Choi has shown an amazing batting eye for a 24-year-old, with more walks (15) than strikeouts (14). His on-base percentage, usually a key indicator of a young player`s future success, is a Bonds-ian .483. Don`t think it is a fluke either, because he led the Pacific Coast League in walks last season and has routinely put up OBPs near .400 in his four-year minor league career. And despite being nearly five years younger than Matsui, Choi has outhomered the reigning Japanese home run champion 4-2.

The remarkable similarity between the two is what really makes this an interesting debate. They both have compact, left-handed swings and can hit with power to all fields. Their batting averages are basically the same. Since they are in different leagues, they may have something else in common after this year: matching Rookie of the Year awards.

Despite his on-base streak in nine games, Choi did not hit any against San Diego Padres at home. It was his second "no-hit" game, pulling his batting average down to 0.261. The Cubs was shut out 0-2 for the first time this season. In the meanwhile, Jae Seo of New York Mets will take the mount as start against Arizona Diamondbacks` Randy Johnson on April 28th.

Hwan-Soo Zang zangpabo@donga.com