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Choo's left-handed complements

Harry How

Just as a reminder, Shin-soo Choo cannot hit left-handed pitching- which gives us an indication of just how talented a hitter he really is. I know that sounds illogical - and maybe it is - but Choo has managed to be about the third most valuable player on the Reds (pitchers included), despite being helpless against left-handers.

This doesn't change the fact that he's helpless against left-handers. To whit:

Slash line vs LHP PAs
Choo (2013) .176/.319/.198 161
Choo (Career) .239/.335/.335 1068
Reds' LHB vs LHP (2013) .251/.341/.399 531

Maybe the most important thing about looking at these side-by-side is that the career numbers tell us a lot more. Choo has always struggled to hit for power against lefties, but never to this extent. One of Dusty's virtues - usually - is not to get caught up chasing the hot (or cold) hand. He generally manages from where he thinks a players true talent level is.

So it's not at allsurprising that Choo hasn't suddenly become a platoon player. Comparing Choo's career lefty splits against Heisey's (.226/.282/.404) or taking Robinson's short MLB career with a grain of salt, it's probably not much of an offensive upgrade to plug either in 30% of the time, while benching Choo.

But both of them, aside from having a platoon advantage batting righty, are defensive upgrades over Choo. And Choo, who is leading the league in PAs, is not hurting for too little playing time at age 31. This makes it difficult to understand why he's been starting and leading off against some of baseball's toughest lefty pitchers - including Clayton Kershaw on Friday.

The only lefty starters Choo has had a reasonable amount of success against this season are Jeff Locke (2-9, BB) and Mike Minor (2-6). Meanwhile, Choo has stood in against Liriano, Lee, Corbin and Kershaw this season.

I don't really want to see any less of Choo on a baseball field. And there are a lot of other factors that determine whether or not a player starts. But if the Reds aren't going to make a deadline move, they should at least be trying to get the most out of what they've got.