Shin-Soo Choo's development has been the best storyline in an otherwise dismal 2009 season for the Cleveland Indians.
Choo, 27, has been the most consistent player this year for the Indians and has shown he is the right fielder of the future in Cleveland.
Through all of the trades, losing, and grumblings about his manager being fired, Choo has not had a hitting slump all year and has shown he does not have a big hole in any area of his game.
Outside of Cleveland, he is one of the most underrated players in all of baseball.
I believe he has surpassed Grady Sizemore as the best player on the Indians.
Let's look at the five tools that make up the great all-around players in baseball and see how Choo fits them:
1. Hitting for Average
Choo has been hovering right around .300 for the entire season and entering today is hitting .297 with a .400 OBP. This may not look like a great average, but the consistency with which he has done it is what really makes it good.
Hitting in the middle of the lineup, Choo has been exactly what Cleveland has needed. He never gets in slumps and always seems to get timely hits. He seems to always be on base because of his great patience and that is shown in his .400 on base percentage.
2. Hitting for Power
Power is not measured only by home runs. Choo is an extra base machine, consistently plugging gaps and occasionally hitting it out. He has 28 doubles, four triples, and 14 home runs. That would be 48 extra base hits to go along with his .875 OPS.
Anyone that has seen Choo throw will tell you that he has one of the top five arms in the game. He has nine outfield assists, which is good for third in the AL. He has done that when it is apparent that no one seems to be running on him lately.
All teams have become aware of his arm and are very hesitant to send anyone on him. It has been said that Choo can throw from the centerfield wall to the plate on a fly without moving his feet.
Choo may not win a Gold Glove in his time in the majors, but he has shown he is a very good defensive player. Watching games, I am always confident Choo will get to balls in the gaps or down the lines. He has great closing speed, and I need not say anything about his arm.
He has to be one of the smartest base runners in the entire game. You may not be able to tell this unless you watch him on a consistent basis. He does all the little things, and I mean all of them. He seems to always getting the extra base. He is 17 for 18 on stolen bases this year and has shown speed in the outfield.
This is what makes Choo one of the top players in the game. Playing on a losing team in a smaller market has him being overlooked a bit. If Choo can keep doing this consistently for years to come, and there is no reason to believe he will not, he will soon be recognized as one of the best five-tool players in baseball.