Replacing Shin-Soo Choo and the Indians Right Field Disaster

It wasn’t as if Shin-Soo Choo was really tearing it up for fantasy owners this season anyway, was he?  After back to back 20-20 seasons with a .300 average, the 28 year old Korean-born outfielder ran into a little trouble this year.  He struggled out of the gate in April and was then arrested on DUI charges at the beginning of May.  The apparent shame perpetuated the sub par play and now here in June, after being hit on the hand  by Giants’ starter Jonathan Sanchez, is on the DL with a broken thumb that will require surgery and will be sidelined for a minimum of six weeks.

Fantasy bust?  Um, yeah.  Now owners, especially those that bought low on Choo with the hopes of an eventual turnaround (raise your hand if you can join me in that club), are left sifting through that scrap heap that is your league’s waiver wire in search of a replacement outfielder that could possibly have some semblance of long term upside.  It obviously depends on how deep a league you play in, but the one stone that I can assure you can be left unturned, is the one right there in Cleveland.  Consider this your anti-waiver wire piece for the week.

Upon learning that Choo’s thumb would require surgery, the Tribe immediately recalled Travis Buck from Triple-A Columbus and will throw him into the mix with Austin Kearns and perhaps a few starts fromthe also recently recalled Shelley Duncan as well.  Rumor has it that Buck will get the longest look, but if history repeats itself, as it usually does when people don’t actually learn their lessons in life, it won’t be long before Manny Acta, the organization, and the fans grow tired of the lack of offensive production.

Buck’s numbers actually speak for themselves.  Of course, it’s a meek, little voice and sounds more like a whimper than anything else.  No power, no speed, too many strikeouts, not enough walks, you name it.  His career slash line of .247/.323/.413 is unbearably weak for a corner outfielder, as is his career.323 wOBA which is only skewed that high due to one decent year back in 2007.  You’d like to find some sort of redeemable quality in there somewhere, but, truth be told, if I said that anything on his stat page indicated improvement with additional playing time, I’d be lying to you.

Duncan may get some work out in the outfield, but may also get some work in at first base, another position that seems to be haunting Cleveland when it comes to power.  He’s got the biggest stick of the three mentioned, although you have to search through his minor league totals to discover that fact.  Put Duncan up in the bigs and you may see an ISO north of .180, but for the most part, you’ve got a lot of strikeouts going hand in hand with a high IFFB% and a fairly weak HR/FB for a power hitter.  Watching him lumber around the outfield defensively is no picnic either, but that has little bearing on his fantasy value.

And then there’s Kearns, the guy who should eventually see the most action when Acta realizes that Buck is…..well, Travis Buck.  Keanrs has had some nice runs in his career, particularly back in 2006 and 2007 where he got a decent amount of regular playing time. Decent on-base skills, some mid-level pop and the potential for double digit home runs with a .260-ish average.  But in the last few years, he’s become weaker at the plate.  His strikeout rate has gone up and he’s making below average contact both inside and outside the zone.  His “strength” has been against left-handed pitching, and that’s usually where he ends up — a right-handed bat in a platoon and showing mediocre fantasy value, at best.

So while the rest of Cleveland sits patiently, awaits the return of Choo and turns a blind eye to the fill-ins over in right field, so should you.  I don’t see any of these guys suddenly stepping up to provide you with worthwhile stats for your fantasy team.  Your waiver wire is likely riddled with plenty of other worthwhile names ranging from Jason Bay to Roger Bernadina to Chris Heisey to Will Venable.  Any one of those guys will out-produce any combination of players the Indians throw out there in right for the next six or seven weeks, so do yourself and your team a favor and avoid them all.


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Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site,, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at

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