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Choo Emerges as `5-Tool Player` for Cleveland Indians

Posted October. 05, 2010 13:35,   


Choo Shin-soo was a pitcher on the Korean team that won the IBAF World Junior AAA Baseball Championship in August 2000. The feat would be comparable to winning the FIFA U-20 World Cup of soccer.

Then a senior at Busan High School, Choo was named Most Valuable Player and best pitcher of the tournament. He threw a fastball and breaking ball of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour.

He signed with the Seattle Mariners in winter of the same year but changed his position because he possessed five tools: the ability to hit for average and power, great speed, a powerful throwing arm, and excellent defense. The Mariners did not err by signing the Korean, but it would be in Cleveland where Choo would blossom.

○ A Cleveland first in 110 years

The Cleveland Indians played their season finale against the Chicago White Sox Sunday. Choo, 28, sat out and so he finished the season with a .300 batting average, 90 RBIs, 22 home runs and 22 steals.

He broke his personal bests in home runs, steals and RBIs since joining the majors in 2005.

His absence in the season finale was expected. When Choo went 1-3 to maintain his hitting average at .300 the day before, Indians manager Manny Acta said for the sake of his record, Choo might be excluded from the roster Sunday.”

Accordingly, Choo became the first Indian in history and the only American League player this season to hit .300 and to have at least 20 home runs and 20 steals for two consecutive years. Only two other players -- Carlos Gonzales of the Colorado Rockies (.336, 34 home runs, 26 steals) and Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins (.300, 21 home runs, 32 steals) – matched Choo’s achievement this season.

Choo also posted a career high in on-base percentage (.401) this year.

○ Excellence despite injury

Choo got off to a good start in April by hitting .317 and four home runs and stealing four bases. He slowed down a little in May but rebounded with six homers in June.

He missed 16 games due to an injured right thumb suffered in a July 3 game against the Oakland Athletics. He then hit three homers in one game for the first time, including a grand slam, against the Kansas City Royals on Sept. 18. Two days later, he became the sixth player this season to join the 20-20 (20 homers and 20 steals) club.

His batting average dropped to .290 after he went 0-4 in a Sept. 24 game versus the Royals. But he raised his average to .299 by going 7-8 against Kansas City on Sept. 25 and 26, and broke .300 by going 2-4 against the Chicago White Sox Saturday.

Choo said, “A .300 batting average is special. An on-base percentage of .400 is a mark few players can achieve. I thank Acta for his consideration of my career and record.”

On defense, Choo’s strong arm helped him record 14 assists, the most among outfielders in the majors this season.

He will return to Korea Oct. 10 for personal training and join the national team for training at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan Oct. 15 to prepare for the Guangzhou Asian Games next month.