In a preseason post on his fantasy baseball site Roto Authority, Tim Dierkes ran through the guys he thought had the best chance at hitting 20 homers and stealing 20 bases in 2009. The list: Hanley Ramirez, Grady Sizemore, Alfonso Soriano, Ian Kinsler, Nate McLouth, Corey Hart, and Brandon Phillips.
Dierkes also suggested a few other guys who had an outside chance at 20/20: Alex Rodriguez, David Wright, Jimmy Rollins, Matt Kemp, Carlos Beltran, Bobby Abreu, Alex Rios, Chris Young, Jayson Werth, Rickie Weeks and Chris Dickerson.
Dierkes is a big believer in these 20/20 players. He stacks his teams with as many of these guys as possible. I’ve borrowed his approach this season and my team is in first place, after years of never finishing higher than seventh (out of 12).
But nowhere on Dierkes’ list of 20/20 players was Shin-Soo Choo. That’s because nobody expected Choo to steal 20 bases (ZiPS projected him to steal 8, while BP said he’d nab 10). Yet, through 81 games, he’s stolen 13 bags — and he’s yet to be caught.
Shin-Soo Choo will not play for the 2009 AL all-star team, but he should. He’s on pace to steal 26 bases, hit 24 homers, post an OBP above .400 and rack up 100 runs and RBIs. His defense isn’t great, but it’s not nearly bad enough to overshadow his outstanding offensive output.
Before this season started, people wondered if Choo’s 14 homers in 94 games in 2008 was a fluke. Now we know — it wasn’t. In fact, it was only a small part of the overall picture. So why isn’t Choo getting any love from Joe Madden or anyone else? For one, he plays for the last place Indians. Also, it’s hard to remember where to put the hyphen in his name.
But don’t worry, Choo will get his love. In January and February, when fantasy baseball nerds are getting ready for their leagues’ anual drafts, they’ll sort through the stats and come to the inevitable conclusion that Choo is a lot more than just a home run hitter. He’s a base-stealing, walk-taking, RBI and run-scoring machine.