Choo Shin-soo comes to the KBO

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Following the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO)’s confirmation of initiating a full regular season with in-person attendance starting from April, the league has been welcomed by more delightful news; Korean batting legend Choo Shin-Soo is coming to the KBO for the first time after 16 years in the MLB. Choo has reportedly reached a record-breaking short-term deal with the SSG Landers (formerly known as the SK Wyverns). Choo’s return to Korea as a member of the Landers has stirred much excitement among Korean baseball fans who anticipate the former MLB All-star will play up to his high expectations and record-breaking contract.

 

“Choo’s return to Korea as an outfielder for the Landers is definitely exciting for the KBO,” Tyge Shelby, physical education teacher, said. “It is not often that such a big name comes to the KBO. While he is not young, I think he has some good years left, especially considering his All-star season with the Rangers and level of baseball in the KBO.”

 

Choo’s contract with the Landers is reportedly a one year 2.4 million dollar contract, granting Choo the highest annual salary in KBO history. While Choo’s contract is a major financial move for the Landers and one of the most extravagant contracts in KBO history, it is lackluster compared to his former MLB contracts. Rather than financial incentive, Choo stated that his decision to move to Korea was influenced by his desire to play in a league where he would be highly regarded and supported as a crucial piece in the lineup, rather than a backup or utility player he would have been had he strived to continue his MLB career at 38. Parallel to his expectations of the KBO to highly value his services, the Landers have very high expectations of Choo. The signing of Choo fills the leadoff void in the Landers’ struggling batting lineup and promises a significant boost to the team’s ability to get on base and hit for power. The Landers expect Choo to lift the team out of their 2020 struggles with his excellent contact ability and power and to become the face of the newly established franchise.

 

 “For many, Choo’s move to the KBO might seem like the end of Choo’s spectacular career and a down-grade from accepting a potential big league contract,” Sam Hong (10), former little league baseball player, said. “But considering his age and lately declining performance in the MLB, I think his move to the KBO was the right decision to make. In the MLB, he will have a platoon role at best going forward, but in Korea, he will be the center of the game. Considering his stellar years in the MLB, I think he will do great in the KBO and definitely help the Landers out of their struggles.”

 

Choo is no ordinary player as he is arguably among the most successful and talented batters in Korean baseball history. Throughout his 16 year MLB career, Choo has displayed a remarkably consistent on-base-percentage (OBP) of .377, well above the 2020 MLB average of .322. Coupled with his remarkable plate discipline and contact ability as demonstrated by his excellent OBP, Choo has demonstrated his capacity as a power hitter, hitting a career total of 218 home runs. Over time, Choo has developed into a fan-favorite among Korean baseball fans and the very image of the hard-working, dedicated, and disciplined athlete. Choo’s return to the KBO is not only a historic moment for the league and the Landers, but also a dream come true for the Korean baseball fans who, until now, could only admire Choo from many miles away on television. Now, fans will be able to see Choo play in-person in the KBO baseball stadiums for the first time in his 16 year baseball career. Considering his prowess in the big leagues, Choo will likely succeed in the KBO as well and further build up on the high value and legacy that has come to be attributed with his name.

 

“I am really excited about Choo’s move to the KBO,” said Joon Sung Kim (9), avid fan of baseball. “Since I was a kid, I always enjoyed watching Choo hit on television. Now that he is coming to Korea, I look forward to seeing him play in person.”