The 2012 season has been nothing short of a re-birth to the career of Cleveland Indians right fielder Shin-Soo Choo. After a disastrous 2011 season filled with injuries and a drunk driving incident, Choo has chugged along to his career averages and seems poised to post personal bests in several individual statistics.
Currently hitting .291/.373/.458, Choo is on pace to score 101 runs, rake 50 doubles and 19 home runs, while driving in 64 runs and stealing 18 bases. These are all fantastic numbers, but many of them could take an additional bump with his recent move to his familiar stomping grounds: the middle of the order.
From May 14 to August 2, Choo was the Indians' leadoff hitter. During that time he managed to hit .310/.382/.528 with 25 doubles, two triples, 11 home runs, 27 RBI, seven stolen bases and 54 runs scored in 284 at-bats. With the recent slide by the Tribe, manager Manny Acta finally mixed things up and moved second baseman Jason Kipnis to the leadoff role, sliding Choo into the three-spot.
Choo has struggled out of the number three-spot this season, hitting just .259/.357/.376 with just one home run and seven doubles in 85 at-bats. However, Choo still drove in 14 runs from the three-spot and still showed his patient approach, walking 10 times.
The question now is, can Choo keep up with the offensive pace that he had out of the leadoff spot with his recent move to the middle of the order? I have several reasons why he can.