Shin-Soo Choo joins exclusive company with 50-game on-base streak

Death, taxes and Shin-Soo Choo reaching base. Those are the only three guarantees in life, or so you might think based on Choo’s remarkable on-base streak.

With his first-inning walk on Saturday night, the Texas Rangers All-Star officially reached base in his 50th consecutive game. That’s a feat only 50 other MLB players have achieved dating back to 1908.

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What company is Shin-Soo Choo keeping?

That only fifty other players have had a consecutive-games streak of 50-plus tells you Choo is keeping good company. Among the players on that list are DiMaggio, Williams, Luke Appling, Barry Bonds, Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker.

We highlight them for two reasons.

First, they’re each Hall of Famers. Beyond that, they’re the only players to have two 50-game on-base streaks. Doing it once is impressive enough, but that gives Choo something to shoot for.

By the way, can you guess who the most recent player was to have a 50-plus game streak?

Hint: He’s all over MLB Network.

How much damage has Shin-Soo Choo done during this steak?

It’s been far from a hollow streak.

Coming into Saturday, Choo was hitting .330 and had a 1.037 OPS during the first 49 games of the streak. He’s led the Rangers offense during that time with 12 home runs, 27 RBIs and 29 runs scored. Overall, he has 62 hits, 43 walks and has been hit by a pitch once.

With numbers like that, it’s no wonder Choo was selected to his first All-Star Game.

During the streak, Choo has had 18 multi-hit games and has gone hitless just seven times. Making the streak a bit more impressive, he’s actually averaged a strikeout per game too. Empty at-bats are not helpful to on-base streaks.

Who holds the longest on-base streak?

One might assume this mark belongs to Joe DiMaggio. He’s really close. He put together a 74-game on-base streak around his record 56-game hitting streak during the 1941 season. However, the record actually belongs to Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Ted Williams. During the 1949 season, he reached base in 84 consecutive games.

What’s more impressive: A long on-base streak or a long hitting streak?

Considering the all-time records in both categories have stood since the 1940s, there’s no denying that both are incredibly difficult to sustain. Obviously, a hitting streak requires a more exact outcome. The only way it continues is if a player reaches base safely with a hit. To continue an on-base streak, a player can reach base on a hit, error, walk, hit by pitch or catcher’s interference.

There are some caveats though. An on-base streak can’t continue on a fielder’s choice or a dropped third strike. Odubel Herrera of the Philadelphia Phillies saw his 45-game on-base streak end on the latter earlier this season. So it’s not like there are endless ways to keep the on-base streak going. It still requires doing something well, every day, for a very long time.

If nothing else, we can safely say the hitting streak is more dramatic. It requires action and a positive outcome. It’s always in jeopardy of ending if a pitcher decides he wants to avoid the hot hitter. A long on-base streak means a hitter is patient and is contributing even on days when he’s not hitting.

Either way, both are good. Both are valuable.

Shin-Soo Choo’s on-base streak reaches 50, which puts the Rangers All-Star in exclusive company. (AP)
Shin-Soo Choo’s on-base streak reaches 50, which puts the Rangers All-Star in exclusive company. (AP)

Is this a Rangers record?

For a single season, yes. When Choo reached base in his 47th consecutive game earlier this week, he bested the previous record held by Julio Franco. The former Rangers designated hitter reached in 46 straight in 1993.

The Rangers overall record is held by Will Clark, who reached base in 58 consecutive games bridging 1995-96. Clark’s streak is tied for the seventh-longest in MLB history.

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