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Hee Seop Choi, the first Korean-born position player in the MLB, finally got a chance at a full-time gig last year. Choi got the majority of playing time until June 7th when he was injured after a nasty collision with Kerry Wood. After the injury, Choi struggled some, as you might expect from someone recovering from a concussion and trying to hit 95 MPH fastballs. He then got benched in favor of a red hot Eric Karros and later for Randall "Yep that Randall" Simon.
Now, I'm not holding anything against the Cubs for not playing him, or for shipping him off for Derrek Lee. Even if Lee ends up only being marginally better than Choi, he still brings stability to a team that needs another solid bat in the middle of the order. Good trade for both teams.
It seems, however, that even now as Choi is batting .290/.436/.774 with 5 home runs already, he still is not getting the credit he deserves. True to form, a quick search of ESPN brought up this by Jason Stark,
Derrek Lee is gone. His replacement, Hee Seop Choi, is viewed by many scouts as no more than a platoon player with seductive tools.I really want to meet these scouts. No forget it, I want to meet the GM that these scouts work for. I could do a better job than these morons, and I'm currently looking for employment.
Before his injury in 2003, Choi used his 'seductive tools' to bat .244/.389/.496 in his first 49 games. In Choi’s case the .244 average is deceptive when you look at the fact that his .885 OPS would have been good for 20th in the NL last year. Ironically, Choi would have been sandwiched between the man he replaces, Derrek Lee, and just above All-Star Mike Lowell. Not a bad start to the 24 year old’s career.
Choi also used his 'seductive tools' to completely tear up minor league pitching. One of his years of AAA was spent battling injuries and he still posted above average numbers.
I don’t understand how a scout can look at Choi and see seductive tools. This guy is a left handed Derrek Lee. Seriously, he is. The guy has a great batting eye, he's big, strong, and he crushes the ball. How could a scout not like that?
Then again, maybe no scout is actually that dumb. Maybe Jason Stark is just making up stories about players he doesn't like to fit in nicely with the theme of his column. Who knows? There has to be a reason people refuse to recognize Choi. I have no idea what that reason is, but if he keeps up this hot start people won't be able to ignore him any longer.