Posted on August 4, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Fresh off several notable additions right before the non-waiver trade deadline on Monday, the Texas Rangers have added another piece to the puzzle, activating outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from the DL. Choo will be active and in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles. This is the third time Choo has returned from the DL this season, although this time around he only spent the minimum of 15 days on the injured list after being placed there on July 20 due to inflammation in his lower back.
Injuries have played a huge part in Choo’s season, limiting him to just 33 games. However, whenever the 34-year old has been in the lineup, he’s been productive. In those 33 games, Choo is hitting .260 with seven home runs and five doubles, helping him post a healthy OPS of .844. Even with the recent additions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy, the return of Choo will be a welcomed one for the Rangers, who are 8-10 since the all-star break and in danger of getting swept by the Orioles Thursday night leading into a big series this weekend against the Houston Astros.
Choo is expected to take over the leadoff spot for the Rangers after getting most of his at bats this season from the top spot in the lineup. Second baseman Rougned Odor has seen a noticeable decline in his numbers when batting in the leadoff spot this season. Meanwhile, Jurickson Profar has done fine in that role, but his playing time may soon diminish with the acquisition of Beltran, who figures to be the team’s primary DH. Profar has also struggled since the all-star break, hitting just .189 in that time. If Choo can step into the lineup and continue to be a productive leadoff hitter, he could answer one of the biggest questions facing the Rangers right now and possibly help jumpstart a struggling offense.
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Defensively, Choo figures to step into right field, shifting rookie Nomar Mazara to left field. The Rangers may also look to platoon Mazara in left field with Ryan Rua, who has been great against left-handed pitching this season. Both Mazara and Beltran are capable of filling in for Choo in right field if he needs added rest down the stretch or has a flareup of one of the three injuries he’s suffered this season. Of course, ideally the Rangers would like to have Choo in the lineup every day.
Obviously, Texas will be a bit weary of Choo coming back, knowing that he’s already had three separate stints on the DL this season. However, all the time he’s missed this year means that Choo has the opportunity to become an x-factor for the Rangers the final two months of the season. Texas is in good shape, leading the Astros by 5.5 games atop the AL West, but the division is far from secure based on how the Rangers have played coming out of the all-star break. If he can finally stay healthy, Choo has a chance to be a stabilizing factor for the Rangers and play a key role in Texas winning the AL West and reaching the postseason.