Choo’s BABIP

Question: Which of the following players had the highest wRAA last season?

A) Todd Helton
B) Matt Holliday
C) Shin-Soo Choo
D) Evan Longoria
E) Alex Rodriguez

Now, a question like this would only be posed if the answer was surprising, right? Which makes C the obvious (and correct) pick. Acquired in a July 2006 trade from the Seattle Mariners (for Ben Broussard) Choo has blossomed into a fine player, earning 5.1 WAR last season alone. The 27-year-old posted a .389 park-unadjusted wOBA and played essentially average defense in a corner outfield position.

A driving force behind his offensive outburst was a BABIP north of .375. Often that would be labeled a fluke and a confluence of a series of very fortuitous events. With Choo, it’s becoming a pattern. Throughout his 1,275 Major League plate appearances his BABIP is .373. Go to the career leaderboards and set a minimum amount of plate appearances to 1,000. From there sort BABIP descending and Choo’s BABIP ranks tops amongst active players and fifth historically. The next closest active players include Matt Diaz, Matt Kemp, Fred Lewis, and Derek Jeter. It’s a select club to say the least.

Of course you should still regress towards the league average before penciling Choo in for another .370+ BABIP next year even in extreme cases like this. Take a look at Choo’s career BABIP by batted ball type compared to the 2009 American League average and a trend becomes evident:


BB	Choo	AL
Grnd	0.284	0.24
Fly	0.226	0.134
Line	0.732	0.729

At moments like this, HitFx data would come in handy. Choo sees each of his types go for more hits than the average American Leaguer, especially fly balls. Best I can tell, there are only a few possible explanations for this:

1) Scorer inaccurately calling a line drive a fly ball.
2) Choo hitting the ball harder than most.
3) Choo possessing mental telekinesis powers and is extremely selfish.

Perhaps it’s a combination of the three.




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28 Responses to “Choo’s BABIP”

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  1. Kampfer says:

    It must be 3!
    He is so selfish!

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  2. Sean says:

    I have alot of great Choo rookie cards from 2002, email me if interested.

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  3. Unification of Korea says:

    I wish I knew what wRAA was, but it sounds like this Choo is a good ballplayer. Maybe he can earn a spot on the Yankees someday.

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  4. Mike Rogers says:

    Here’s my question: There was quite the stink about Choo having to go back to Korea to serve in the Military when it was first reported last year. I haven’t heard a peep about this year and he’s supposed to fulfill his civilian obligation by 2010. Is he exempt? Has anything else been reported on it? I figured it’d be a bigger story this season, but it wasn’t/hasn’t been.

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    • Unification of Korea says:

      The likely scenario is that Choo forfeits his Korean citizenship at the last second. I assume he is giving the Korean government the opportunity to waive his military requirement. The majority of the Korean Olympic baseball team has already been exempt for winning the gold medal.

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      • Mike Rogers says:

        That’s what I figured, but I just wonder why there’s so little pub about it. I remember in mid-summer last year, it was pretty big news and now that the date draws closer, it doesn’t even get a sniff of writing. Weird to me.

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      • walkoffblast says:

        Probably because he plays for the Indians.

        The reason this story got a lot of coverage at the time was the WBC and the possibility a south korea victory would exempt him.

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      • sjp says:

        bronze is enough for sport players to get an exemption in the olympics and they need the gold medal if they’re playing in asian olympic or an equivalent sports competiton.

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    • RPK says:

      He was granted an exemption from the gov’t as a reward for Korea’s performance in 2009′s WBC.

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  5. Bryz says:

    I made a huge steal this past year in my fantasy league when I took Choo. He helped me finish in first in my league’s regular season.

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    • Bryz says:

      Should have included this in the first post. I knew he would be undervalued and so I drafted him. Same with Nelson Cruz and Mike Napoli.

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      • WY says:

        I got Choo and Cruz too (and won my league thanks to them…and Zobrist, Sandoval, Rajai Davis, and Aaron Hill).

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      • Jeremiah says:

        I also had Choo, and nearly won my league before a glut of errors and poor pitching derailed me in the last couple of weeks. Most reports describe him as average in the field, but he had a lot of outfield assists, which helped me dominate that category.

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  6. Bradley says:

    Mike: You know, I could swear I heard something about that recently, like he might be able to put it off another year or two, but I couldn’t find anything on it just now. Maybe his mind powers go beyond what we can predict with BABIP and now his controlling the media? Or at least my memories concerning the media, which would be an Aquaman-type letdown of a super power.

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  7. Sean says:

    Does Choo remind anyone else of Darin Erstad in his prime?

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  8. Andrew says:

    So what does this say about his fantasy value going into next year? I got him in a trade because I have a lot of irrational love for him but I also plan on drafting him since I don’t think a .300/25/100/100/25 season would be that unreasonable.

    I guess no .300 next season?

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  9. JK says:

    Where’s the analysis regarding whether his high babip is sustainable? While .373 (his career major league figure) is very high, his minor league average appears about the same if not higher. So, historically, his high babip appears sustainable. There are other reasons to think it may go down (such as his relatively low ct rate), but that’s not explored here.

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  10. AB says:

    Could Progressive Field have something to do with it? The park factor is/has been very low there from HRs so maybe its spaciousness is conducive to FB hits

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  11. Fresh Hops says:

    The correlation coefficient for BABIP is tiny, so a straightforward regression-model prediction of his future BABIP will have it pretty close to league average.

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  12. PhD Brian says:

    This is more proof that every team has an all star caliber player on it!

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  13. Gilbert says:

    Maybe look at his hit location chart compared to players with similar power. If he happens to be more spread across the field then OF can’t play the percentages. Or maybe he has concentrations different than expected and the scouting reports haven’t gotten to the opposing teams.

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  14. PL says:

    Ichiro is also known for having a very high BABIP. I think a constantly high babip means the hitter is very good, or a has a swing built for not only singles, but ebh as well.

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  15. tom s. says:

    Shin Soo-Choo is in the top 20 out of all qualified players in terms of the least likely to hit an IFFB, which surely impacts his net FB BABIP substantially (unless FB and IFFB are being calculated differently, in which case, disregard). so “hitting the ball harder” may be an answer.

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