Shin-Soo Choo's turnaround this season since the all-star break has not only been a big thing for the veteran outfielder personally, it's also been a huge development for the Texas Rangers and a big reason why they're suddenly right in the thick of not only the AL Wild Card race but also the AL West race.
Choo was brought on board prior to last season to be a prototypical leadoff hitter and an on-base machine, and while he was that for the first month of the season, an ankle injury derailed him for the remainder of the year — a huge disappointment after he inked a 7-year, $140 million deal with Texas.
This year, Choo was just bad, hitting .221 with a .305 on-base percentage through the all-star break. By the time the season midpoint came, he was nothing more than a platoon hitter.
That's no longer the case, though, as Choo has turned things around since the break and is batting .333 with a .449 on-base percentage and is slugging .598 since the break. A big reason for that, Choo says, was a talk he had with his wife when he was struggling for playing time.
Choo, in an interview with the Dallas Morning News' Evan Grant said the talk was a great metaphor for his struggles this year, and it helped him come out of his extended slump.
"She is talking to me and she is saying that everybody’s life is like a building...She is telling me that you spend your life building this building. Some people build things very quickly and very tall, but it might not have a solid foundation. Some people might build their building on sand and when it shakes, it falls."
"And she is telling me that I’ve built a very strong building, that, like everyone, it’s going to get shaken, but it is built on a solid foundation and that I shouldn’t try to change that. It will stand up sturdy.”
The talk, Choo said, helped him focus more on the day-to-day grind of a season and not the big picture of playing time and role with the team, and the results have been staggering since he's relaxed and just played on a day-to-day basis.
"I think we are seeing him play with confidence," Rangers manager Jeff Banister told reporters. "We are seeing him play the brand of baseball that we need and we are seeing him smile when he does it."
If he can continue to do that, it's going to be a huge key for the Rangers down the stretch as he's getting more entrenched into an everyday role as the No. 2 hitter again.