2. Shin Soo Choo, OF. Age 31
Choo is a very interesting proposition as an offseason piece. For a variety of reasons. This front office wants guys on the right side of 30, Choo is not, who offer value, versatility, and the right type of approach. And to all of that, Choo does.
Shin Soo Choo is an outfielder who has established himself and at this point is what you see is what you get. But what exactly do you see in the 31 year old outfielder? Is it the .280/.390/.850 guy who can hit 20 hr's a year and steal 20 bases? Or is it the guy who annually sits in the bottom 1/5 of regulars in all most offensive categories against lefties, is a step slow for a leadoff type hitter, aging in his years, almost certain his prime is now and the last couple of years, and strikes out 130 times a year?
The answer? Both, Choo is a guy who is ridiculous across the board against right handed pitching, and at the same token is equally as bad against lefties. He is a guy who can and will always be able to play solid defense as he is sound fundamentally with a good arm. Even after his legs slow down a bit more, LF or RF will not be a problem for Choo.
The answer then lies in the competition. For the sake of argument let us focus solely on the NL Central:
1. St Louis: Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, Lance Lynn all RHP. Jaime Garcia is a lefty but with that lineup there is no guarantee he will step right back in. call it 5/5 RHP
2. Cincinatti: Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Tony Cingrani. That is another 4/5 RHP
3. Pittsburgh: Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Wandy Rodriguez, Jeff Locke, Charlie Morton. That is 2/5 RHP, however, before long you can assume Liriano will be gone and one of their talented young RIGHTIES will replace him. Even still as of now, 2/5.
4. Milwaukee: Kyle Lohse, Wily Peralta, Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, and 5 guys split the final spot 4/5 being RHP. Call it 5/5 again.
That means in the NL Central Choo would face, roughly, 80% of the time facing righties, who he CRUSHES. 20% time to give him an off day and matchup effective starts. 80% is 130 games, give him an extra 10-15 against lefties because he still gets on base and you are in the 140-150 range. Even if he played all 20% against lefties he would figure to put up a .295/.435/.931 line which would be crazy good, unlike any we Cubs fans have seen since D. Lee's MVP season. It is a standard we don't fully know as Cubs fans and one, because of the lack of flash goes unnoticed. And, for the record, fundamentals, instincts, arm strength, hustle, baseball knowledge, plate approach, etc. don't decline with age nearly like speed.
Also, dude hits .325/.464/1.000 in day games, highly desired playing at Wrigley!!