DALLAS — My personal definition of an MVP is a player without whom the team would not be where they are now. For a last place team, 22 games out of the hunt, it can be difficult to find a bright spot on the roster. Because of this, you could amend the definition to mean the player who consistently displayed efforts designed to give his team the best chances to win. For that reason, I’m dishing this award out to Designated Hitter/Outfielder, Shin-Soo Choo.
Choo, at the age of 36, has played in 90 games for Texas, in this, the 5th year of a seven year contract. He’s had 62 at DH and 28 as an outfielder, as Jeff Banister tries to juggle a lineup with plus bat/minus glove players.
Choo has a slash line of .293/.405/.506 with 18 homers and 43 RBI. Choo also fulfilled a career-long goal of becoming an All-Star for the first time last evening in Washington as Texas’ lone representative.
In two at-bats, Choo went 1-for-2 with (of course) a single off left-handed fireman Josh Hader in his first appearance as an All-Star led to what at the time became the go-ahead run for the American League when Jean Segura followed with a three-run home run later in the inning.
There’s also the small matter of his On-Base streak. Perhaps you’ve heard of it? Shin-Soo Choo has a currently active streak of reaching base safely in 51 straight games (and, no, the hit in the All-Star game doesn't count as 52 except for in our hearts).
That streak is a single-season franchise record and is remarkably tied for sixth longest over one season in MLB history. But Choo's streak has rendered him a one trick pony of just reaching base once per game. During the streak, Choo has actually slashed .337/.469/.596, walked 47 times and tallied 65 hits.
The closest Choo came to seeing the streak come to an end recently was on July 8 against Detroit, as Choo needed a final at-bat in the ninth inning and was able to run out a dribbler to the third base side for an infield single to break the franchise record.
Perhaps it’s the added media attention from this streak, but we have found more and more evidence of Choo providing veteran leadership in the clubhouse. From influencing his younger outfield mates with his consistent, unwavering approach at the plate to displaying work ethic by ensuring he’s the first one in the clubhouse on any given day, Choo is proving invaluable in more than just on-field production.
To that end, it makes Choo an interesting trade possibility. As stated, Choo is 36. Excluding 2016, he’s shown a propensity for remaining relatively healthy enough to play a majority of a full season. But as he gets older, he becomes less and less of a sure thing in that department.
Already delegated to being a primary DH, Choo’s defensive role on a team eliminates at least two-thirds of the teams on which his presence would be useful. But he’s still producing and is even arguably having his best season in Texas. With two years remaining on his contract, each valued at only just over $20 million, there’s no doubt that the Rangers would have to absorb a lot of the salary to make him an attractive acquisition.
You may be saying "Only making $20 million?" I too was down on the contract when it was first signed, and all things told, he probably hasn’t 100% lived up to the hefty salary Jon Daniels gave him over the entire life of his deal. This year, though, he’s quite certainly providing value. In fact, let’s take a look at the position players who are making $20 million in 2018.
We’ll leave Mike Trout out of this exercise, because, look, the guy is Mike Trout. He's the living definition of an outlier.
- David Wright – NYM - $20 million – Has not played a game in…2017…or 2018…
- Eric Hosmer – SDP - $20 million - .249/.317/.397, 94 games
- Yadier Molina – STL - $20 million - .274/.315/.474, 64 games
- Troy Tulowitzki – TOR - $20 million – Has not played a game in 2018
- Russell Martin – TOR - $20 million - .179/.328/.285, 63 games
- Alex Gordon – KC - $20 million - .242/.319/.344, 77 games
If you want some of the players making more than that but underproducing (whether by production or by number of games played), the list is plentiful: Jacoby Ellsbury, Buster Posey, Jason Heyward, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Joe Mauer, Josh Donaldson, Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, Yoenis Cespedes, Miguel Cabrera.
There are a select few players who are producing to the level of expectations on their hefty contracts, and in 2018, Shin-Soo Choo is absolutely earning every bit of that paycheck. In a difficult season for the Texas Rangers, Shin-Soo Choo has been their best and most valuable player.
Will Shin-Soo Choo still be a Ranger on August 1? Make your trade predictions with Matt on Twitter @FisherWritesMLB.