Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/28/13
Shin-Soo Choo and the Cincinnati Reds are a perfect baseball marriage. Cincinnati desperately needed a leadoff hitter with a great OBP, and Choo’s career .381 mark will play nicely atop their lineup. For Choo, he’s finally liberated from a sub-par Indians lineup that finished 22nd in the league in runs scored last year and a ballpark that does more to help pitchers than hitters. Cincinnati’s offense will flourish this year; so will Choo’s stats.Last season Choo hit just 16 homers, falling short of the usual .280/20/20 season we’ve come to expect from him. The main culprit was his fly ball rate, which fell to just 27.1% and has been in decline every year since peaking at 36.1% in both 2008 and 2009. Choo is by no means a fly ball hitter, but hitting flies on fewer than one-third of all balls in play will make it difficult to hit 20 homers. That said, Great American Ballpark has a park factor for homers to left-handed batters of 137 versus Progressive Field’s 121, so though the gap isn’t huge it should help.But as nice as Choo’s new home is, it’s his new teammates that will make the biggest difference. Carlos Santana and Asdrubal Cabrera are nice young hitters, but they’re not Joey Votto and Jay Bruce (with Ryan Ludwick sandwiched in the middle, oh well).At a GlanceStrengths: R, BA, OBPNeutral: HR, RBI, SB, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: David Wright (NYM) w/ fewer RBILikely scenario: Yoenis Cespedes (OAK), Austin Jackson (DET), Ben Zobrist (TB)Worst-case scenario: Jayson Werth (PHI)Shin-Soo Choo 2013 Fantasy ProjectionChoo scored 88 runs last year mostly leading off for a below average offense. The Reds are an elite offense, and it could turn out that the 94 runs we project from Choo this year are a little on the low side. Honestly, I’d like to project a 100-run season given Choo’s OBP regularly surpasses .370.We took a slight risk projecting Choo for 21 homers. On the one hand, it’s a mark he reached in both 2009 and 2010 before injury cut his 2011 short. On the other hand, he wasn’t on pace for 20 homers in 2011 and failed to hit that many last year. His fly ball rate is in decline, and we gambled on it getting back up to around 34% with his hopefuly emphasis on the fly ball in a new, more hitter-friendly ballpark. In the end of the fly ball rate could be irrelevant; Great American Ballpark might make the difference on its own.As for the RBI, steals, and batting average, those are there year-in and year-out, though Choo does strike out about 20% of the time and will need a good BABIP to get to the .280-.300 range. He’s batted .300 as recently as 2010 and is usually one of the league leaders in BABIP thanks to an elite line drive rate, so I wouldn’t worry too much about Choo regressing to 2011′s .259 mark.Choo is exactly the kind of player I’d like to own in a H2H league — balanced across the board. Currently, Choo’s ADP on Yahoo! is 95.6, which is an absolute steal. Last year, with down power numbers and an inferior lineup/ballpark, Choo managed to rank 57th overall. In 2010 he climbed as high as 22. Why he’s at 95 is a mystery to me, but I won’t complain. I’ll draft him.
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