Reds got winner in trade for Choo
CINCINNATI – Dusty Baker calls him Mr. Choo. It’s a large measure of respect for the player Reds general manager Walt Jocketty targeted in the offseason as the solution to a glaring problem in his team’s lineup a year ago.
Shin-Soo Choo has been everything the Reds could have hoped for when they acquired him from Cleveland as part of a three-team, nine-player trade last December. He’s been the hitter at the top of the lineup who gets on base, giving those behind him a shot to drive him in. He’s done all of those little things that leadoff hitters do and he’s been better than expected defensively in centerfield.
Now he’s going to play in the postseason for the first time in his career. Well, sort of in his mind.
Choo isn’t sure what he’ll be feeling Tuesday night when the Reds play in the National League Wild Card game at Pittsburgh. He’s doesn’t think it’s going to be the “real” playoff pressure and adrenaline kick his teammates have been telling him about. He’s sure that would be the case if the Reds win and advance to a NL Division Series against St. Louis. He’d like to find out.
“A lot of teammates have asked me, ‘Choo, your first postseason, how do you feel?’ I don’t know. I don’t really feel the postseason is the wild card.,” said Choo. “A lot of guys say when you start the game you’ll feel something different. I don’t know. Still, one game playoff, I feel not really playoff. We win, and then we’ll talk about it.”
Choo has set a career high with 107 runs scored and 112 walks. He’s third on the Reds with 162 hits and third on the team with 263 total bases. Choo joins teammate Joey Votto and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels as the only players in the Major Leagues with 100 walks and 100 runs scored. He joins Joe Morgan as the only player in Reds history to produce 30 doubles, 20 home runs, 20 steals, 100 walks and 100 runs scored in a season. Morgan did it three times.
Choo will finish second to Votto in on-base percentage in the NL and the two of them, along with Trout, are the only players in the Major Leagues who reached base at least 300 times this season.
The 31-year-old from South Korea will be a free agent in the offseason. Jocketty has said the Reds will do everything they can to try and re-sign Choo. Choo’s focus has been on the here-and-now, specifically Tuesday night.
It’ll be a moment he’s waited for since his first big league appearance in 2005 with Seattle. If the Reds win, Choo will get to play at least one more game at Great American Ball Park.
“I can say this game is not easy,” said Choo. “This game is not easy. I don’t how many fans understand baseball but we play for the fans. We play for the city, Cincinnati.”