What we are seeing from Shin-Soo Choo might be the best sustained offensive domination from a Rangers hitter since 2011, what Joe Maddon called, “The Year of the Napoli.”
But if you look at the numbers, as well as Choo is doing since the second half started, it’s nothing compared to the magical season Napoli had.
That year it seemed Napoli almost single-handedly carried the Rangers to the playoffs. He had career highs in batting average at .320 (sixty points higher than his career average and fifty points higher than he had ever hit before or since), on-base percentage at .414, slugging at .631 and OPS at 1.046.
Those numbers weren’t just impressive, they were video-game like.
Choo is trying to do that in 2015 in the second half.
With all those gaudy numbers in 2011, though, Napoli didn’t make the All-Star team, and, in fact, wasn’t even in the running for M.V.P.
That’s because Napoli didn’t hit the ground running out of spring training and never look back. On the contrary, he started out okay, hitting .267 with six home runs and a dozen RBIs in April, numbers that weren’t all that out of the norm for him. But by June, he was out of the starting lineup. He hit just .206 in May and .179 in June with no home runs or RBIs.
The only thing he hit, in fact, was the DL. It looked like a lost season for a guy who never really had much of an offensive career to begin with.
Then somebody clicked on the light switch. And it was insanity from that point on.
July: .443 batting average, .500 on-base percentage, .820 slugging, 1.320 on-base plus slugging with five home runs and fourteen RBIs.
August: .304/.388/.559/.947, with 7 HRs, 14 RBIs.
September: .429/.518/.843/1.361 with 8 HRs, 19 RBIs.
Choo hit .096 in April, with a slugging percentage of .173. That is more than lost. That’s M.I.A.
He did better in May, but then went back to his disappearing act in June. (Mirroring what the team did.)
But since the All-Star break, Shin-Soo Choo is raking. Hitting .354, with an OBP of .469, SLG of .544 and an OPS of 1.022.
Even crazier is what he has been doing lately. In the last seven days he’s at .565. That’s his batting average. .565. His on-base percentage is .655. He’s been hitting over .400 for the last month.
He’s been on base seventeen times in his last twenty plate appearances.
If Shin-Soo Choo doesn’t win American League player of the week, they should never give that award out ever again.
Choo is trying to do in 2015 what Napoli did in 2011. Carry this team across the threshold to October.
It might not be The Year of the Napoli good, but it’s at least Shin-Soo Choo-tember.
That couldn’t have come at a better time.