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[Baseball] Choo Sets New MLB Mark for Koreans

Posted September. 22, 2008 08:48,   


Choo Shin-soo of the Cleveland Indians is having a hot September, hitting .448 for the month.

In a 6-3 home win over the Detroit Tigers Saturday night, Choo went 2-3 with two runs batted in and a walk. The Indians notched their fifth consecutive win, and Choo’s batting average rose to .310.

The previous day, he hit two home runs for the first time in Major League Baseball, recording four RBIs on three hits. For the season, Choo has 59 RBIs on 90 hits, including 13 homers.

Choi Hee-seop had held the title of best Korean hitter in the U.S. majors with 46 RBIs and 86 hits in 2004.

Even in high school, Choo stood out as an all-around player skilled in hitting for average and power, base running and speed, throwing and fielding. When he made his U.S. debut with the Seattle Mariners in 2001, the team gave him little time due to Japanese hitting wizard Ichiro Suzuki. Even after joining the Indians two years ago, Choo was slowed by an ankle injury, hitting five for 17 (.294) in six games.

Since his return in May, Choo has more than held his own against Ichiro, one of the best switch hitters in the U.S. majors.

Choo’s at-bats numbered less than half of Ichiro’s due to injury and other reasons. Choo is hitting .310, almost the same as Ichiro (.314), but his average hit per at-bat is .31, the same as Ichiro’s.

Choo’s RBI average per at-hat is .20, exceeding that of Ichiro (.15).

Choo’s true strength, however, lies in another statistic. His on-base plus slugging percentage is .959, higher than Ichiro’s .756. In addition, Choo has 13 homers this year as opposed to just six for Ichiro.

Ichiro is a better base stealer than Choo, but many experts have hailed Choo’s base-running skills and potential. Against left-handed pitchers, Choo hits .288 and Ichiro .286.