Shin-Soo Choo Signed by Rangers; N.L. Central Bids 'Good Riddance'

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Word is the Texas Rangers have reached a deal with free agent outfielder Shin Soo-Choo, which makes the St. Louis Cardinals' 2014 outlook a bit rosier.

The Texas Rangers and Shin-Soo Choo have agreed to a seven-year contract worth $130 million, according to MLB gossip tweeter Jon Heyman. The move means Choo won't be playing for the Cincinnati Reds any time soon. This is a fortuitous turn of events for el Birdos.

Before Choo played for the Reds, he was one of my favorite non-Cardinals. This was primarily due to his fantastic batting eye. But his well-rounded game--the ability to steal bases and hit for power--contributed to my enjoyment when watching him play. Then he joined the Reds and enjoyment turned to envy and dread. Choo's Cincinnati stat line last season shows just how excellent he was for the Reds and, by extension, hurtful for the Cardinals.

CHOO'S 2014 STATS

G

PA

R

HR

RBI

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

fWAR

154

712

107

21

54

.285

.423

.462

.885

.178

.393

151

5.2

Choo was a force at the top of the Reds' lineup. His .423 on-base percentage (OBP) was the fourth-highest in all of baseball. Choo's OBP trailed only American League MVP Miguel Cabrera (.442), fellow Red Joey Votto (.435), and should-have-been AL MVP Mike Trout (.432).

Choo formed a potent base-reaching combination with teammate Votto. It's amazing that the Reds could field a lineup that featured players who make outs at two of the five-lowest rates in the game. The pair's OBP was due as much to their keen batting eye and disciplined swinging as hitting for average. Votto's 18.6 BB% led MLB; Choo's 15.7 BB% placed second. Choo and Votto ground out PA after PA against opposing pitchers and were the cornerstone's of the Reds' lineup.

While Choo never should have been playing center field and doing so robbed him of a fair bit of overall value, he was nonetheless an offensive force to be reckoned with. Choo's Cincinnati exit removes a major threat from the Reds' offense and makes the club significantly weaker in 2014. As of this post, the Reds' two major offseason moves are signing Skip Schumaker and losing Choo. It goes without saying that the Cardinals' chances of winning the 2014 NL Central title improved with today's news.

THE INEVITABLE HOLLIDAY COMPARISON

The Choo contract immediate brings to mind the Cardinals' signing of Matt Holliday. Both contracts are for seven-year terms. The Choo contract is for $10 million more than Holliday's. As is the case after seemingly every free-agent outfielder contract, Holliday's deal with St. Louis comes out looking that much better.

As Exhibit A, consider Choo's splits.

CHOO'S CAREER PLATOON SPLITS

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

1128

13

.243

.340

.341

.680

.097

.310

92

Total

3677

104

.288

.389

.465

.854

.176

.374

135

vs. RHP

2549

91

.309

.411

.521

.932

.212

.402

154

CHOO'S 2013 PLATOON SPLITS

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

221

0

.215

.347

.265

.612

.050

.292

81

Total

712

21

.285

.423

.462

.885

.178

.393

151

vs. RHP

491

21

.317

.457

.554

1.011

.237

.438

183

Single-season platoon splits are typically of a small enough sample that they don't have too much predictive value. I generally like to use a player's career stats when looking at such splits. Going by his career splits, Choo hits enough against lefties to play against them. Nonetheless, Choo was horrendous against lefties last year, to the point of concern, while eviscerating right-handed offerings like an angry god.

Now have a look at Holliday's lefty-righty splits.

HOLLIDAY'S CAREER PLATOON SPLITS

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

1243

49

.302

.401

.499

.900

.197

.389

137

Total

6119

251

.311

.387

.531

.918

.220

.394

140

vs. RHP

4662

202

.314

.383

.541

.924

.227

.396

141

HOLLIDAY'S 2013 PLATOON SPLITS

Split

PA

HR

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

ISO

wOBA

wRC+

vs. LHP

144

1

.298

.403

.397

.799

.099

.356

130

Total

602

22

.300

.389

.490

.879

.190

.383

148

vs. RHP

458

21

.301

.384

.519

.903

.218

.391

154

The Cardinals won't be fitting Holliday for a platoon partner anytime soon. We know the Cards signed Holliday to a seven-year, $120 million deal to be their everyday left fielder and that is the type of performance they've gotten. One wonders how much longer the Rangers' new seven-year, $130 million corner outfielder will be playing everyday against opposing lefties and rights alike.

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