Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo's All-Star selection is a deserving reward for an outstanding first half that included his ongoing 51-game on-base streak.:: Complete All-Star Game coverage ::
His trip to the MLB All-Star Game presented by Mastercard is also further evidence that Choo, when healthy, has been able to deliver what the Rangers expected when they signed him to a seven-year contract as a free agent on Dec. 27, 2013. It comes 13 years after first making his Major League debut with the Mariners in 2005.
It is a big moment for him, his family and South Korea. Choo is the third player from South Korea to be selected to the All-Star Game, which will air Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. CT on FOX, as well the first position player from there.
"I am very honored for my country, my family and myself," Choo said. "When I came from Korea, I was 18 years old, and I had never thought about this. Now, I just want to play one game with the best players. That was my goal when I was in the Minor Leagues. A lot of baseball fans are very excited, so are my family and my parents. My wife, she was crying. She has been with me since I was in the Minor Leagues, saw everything I've been through."
It hasn't all been this easy. He had surgery on his left wrist and left ankle in 2014, and he was on the disabled list four times in 2016 because of various injuries. There were also the high expectations that Choo put on himself in the first couple of years in Texas and that didn't help either.
But right now, the Rangers are seeing Choo at his best, and that's why he will be at Nationals Park on Tuesday night.
"He's had stretches like this since he's been here -- the first month of 2014, the second half of 2015," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "But this is the longest he's performed at this level since the year he had in Cincinnati just before we signed him. Really fun to watch when he's locked in like this."
The streak has been impressive beyond being a new club record and the longest in the Major Leagues this season. During those 51 games, he is hitting .337 with a .469 on-base percentage and a .596 slugging percentage. He has scored 31 runs, hit 13 home runs, drove in 28 runs and walked 47 times.
Overall, his .405 on-base percentage is the third highest in the American League, and his .911 OPS is the ninth highest. His 76 runs created on the season is ninth best in the league.
"He worked so hard this offseason. I'm just really glad everyone's able to see him get rewarded for the effort he put in," Daniels said. "He's been one of the toughest outs in the game this year, with focus and intensity every at-bat. He also serves as a great model of the type of approach we want from everyone."
That's what people tend to forget when they evaluate whether Choo has been a good free-agent signing for the Rangers: he was not signed to be a big home run hitter or drive in a ton of runs.
The Rangers originally signed Choo because they were attracted to his reputation for being a tough out at the plate. He was the type of hitter who could get on base, keep a lineup moving and wear down the opposing pitcher. The Rangers had a serious need for that kind of hitter -- even more so now with their young lineup -- and that's what Choo has delivered.
"Every hitter has a different goal, but my goal is always to get on base, get a hit, walk or get hit by a pitch," Choo said. "It doesn't matter. That mentality makes this on-base streak special. Experience is a big help. When you play this long, you see a lot of pitches, different styles, different type of pitchers."
Choo admitted that, during his first few years in Texas, he let the pressure of living up to the contract get to him. That is no longer the case.
"I am not thinking about that," Choo said. "I always believed in myself. I know my numbers are going to be there if I stay healthy. Mentally, I had to get through the first two years of the contract. Now, I have a clear mind. I just think about one thing, and that's how to help the team win."
He can start worrying about that on Friday when the Rangers open the second half. For the next few days, Choo gets to take his rightful place among the best players in baseball.
"I hope he soaks in every part of the All-Star Game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "The sights, sounds, the people. Walking to a clubhouse full of other All-Stars and look around. I think that he should allow himself to appreciate the fact that he is an All-Star. And that is one of the higher recognitions that you can get as a player. He is such a humble human being that I don't know if he'll fully let himself appreciate the experience.
"I want him to appreciate the experience. I want him to enjoy it with his family. To know that he's representing himself, his family, this organization and the country that he came from that, I'm sure there will be a lot of people tuned in to see him play as a Major League All-Star."
While watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX on Tuesday, fans can submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 All-Star Game MLB.com MVP Vote.
The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage.
For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.