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I Choo, Choo, Choose You

 

I have really liked Shin-Soo Choo for some time now. My gut feel comp has him somewhere between Brian Giles and Jim Wynn. He gets on base. He walks a ton. He can steal bases. He hits for power, and (much maligned as the stereotype has become) he seems relatively consistent.

Recently, it came out that he is blaming the bulk of his performance drop this year on his recent DUI.

"My first country is Korea, but I've lived here 11 years," said Choo. "This is my country, too. ... I wanted to play good in the field, show better play and then try to make people forget."

His BABIP is at .298, which is about league average, but not Choo-worthy. The previous year, it was at .347. The year before? .370. Choo is a speedy guy, to be sure, but it was probably inevitable, DUI or not, that he would regress a tad.

The other alarming numbers? His strikeouts are up a tick, and his walks are down. Maybe he is pressing, maybe he's trying to carry the metaphorical weight of two nations on his back. The signs point to the fact that he is trying to do more. He is swinging the bat at times when he would have just waited patiently for the game to come to him (cliché police be damned).

I know the next big field of baseball exploration seems to be that of injury prevention. I would love to have some serious study into the psyche of the ball player. Bill James once noted somewhere (and I'm paraphrasing to the extent that I will probably butcher the man's intent) that if a thing exists and is real, there will probably come a time when we will be able to measure it and quantify its value.

We are emotional creatures. Over time, teams have greatly over-paid for perceived emotional stability (or the intangible emotional boost). Placing value in a perceived sense of consistent chemistry has (righty so) caught the ire of the statistically inclined. I'm just curious if there is any research going into the harnessing of the unknown. There probably isn't a point, seeing that the wide-range of statistical measures we do have serve us well. It would just be nice, for the Choos of the world, to have an explanation for the seemingly unexplainable.

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