The Cleveland Indians are one of the surprise teams in the early going of the 2012 season. Recently they moved Shin-Soo Choo into the leadoff spot and the team has taken off. The Tribe swept Detroit in a three-game series. Choo homered off Detroit ace Justin Verlander in the third game as the Indians won 2-1.
Choo can hit for power and has speed. He hit 22 homers and swiped 22 bases in 2010. After an injury-plagued 2011, where he was arrested for driving while impaired, he looks like he's primed for a big year at the plate. His readiness should help a Cleveland team looking for its first playoff spot since 2007 and first World Series title since 1948.
Here are five reasons why Choo means so much to the Cleveland offense:
He can hit the long ball. Nothing can demoralize an opponent more than giving up a leadoff homer to start a contest. He went 454 feet off of Verlander to start a recent Indians win. He could be a power-hitting leadoff man in the mold of Bobby Bonds.
The Indians look like the are going to have to scrap for every run. Choo can steal a base, which will be key when manager Manny Acta has to play small ball. He has swiped seven bags, which is tied for the team lead with Michael Brantley.
Will Detroit catch Cleveland in AL Central race?
Choo has walked 22 times going into Friday night's game with Chicago, which is third on the team behind catcher Carlos Santana and DH Travis Hafner. Overall this year Choo is hitting .268 with three HRs and 16 RBI.
When Choo leads off the Indians are 8-2. In that span he has hit .350 with two home runs, four RBI and seven runs.
The guy does it all. He's a pretty good outfielder and has also performed like an ignitor for the offense over the last 10 games. He was an offensive leader for the team in 2010 and is returning to that status.