The number 7 Bum on the Top Ten LA Dodger Bum list, has us going international to the other side of the world. There is no where you can go where you can’t see an all-time LA Dodger Bum. The list even extends all the way to South Korea, which is where we’re going today for the number seven Bum on the Top Ten list. Prepare for a long flight and a very short MLB career. Say hello to the number seven Bum……….
Hee-Seop Choi (Hee-Seop Out)
The big 6’5 235 pound left handed hitting first baseman was a member of the South Korean National Baseball team. In 1998 Choi was scouted and discovered by Leon Lee, the father of first baseman Derrek Lee.
In 1999 Choi was signed by the Chicago Cubs. After spending nearly four years in the Cubs minor league system, Choi was called up and made his MLB debut on September 2, 2002 against the Milwaukee Brewers. Choi became the first Korean born Major Leaguer.
In 2003 Choi played in 80 games for the Cubs. He hit only .218 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI. After Choi suffered a concussion in a collision with teammate Kerry Wood, it sidelined him for several weeks. During that time, Choi fell out of favor with the Cubs, more than likely for his pathetic hitting.
After the 2003 season Choi was traded to the Marlins, ironically for Derrek Lee, the man who’s father discovered and signed him. Choi got off to a good start to the 2004 season. On July 30 of 2004 he was hitting.270 at the time he was traded to the Dodgers.
This harkens us back to the days of the 2004 Dodgers. In those days, the Dodgers had just been sold by Fox to the McCourts (Ugghhh) and were a first place team. Since the Dodgers were in first place at the time, it was expected that then GM Paul Depodesta make some kind of monumentally confusing pointless clubhouse changing trade. And of course he did. Trading away of all people, the heart and soul of the Dodgers lineup Catcher Paul Lo Duca along with setup man Guillermo Mota and outfielder Juan Encarnacion to the Marlins for Starting pitcher Brad Penny, Hee Seop Choi, and a minor leaguer.
This was one of the worst trades the Dodgers ever made, as they only received two and a half good years from Penny and 15 measly home runs from Choi. That was all they got for Paul Lo Duca.
Choi was supposed to slot in at first base and provide middle of the order pop. Instead Choi provided literally nothing.
During Choi’s suckfest, Jim Tracy benched Choi, angering GM Depodesta. Tracy explained the reason Choi was not in the starting lineup on that day was because the opposing pitcher Adam Eaton had a unique arm angle. No one believed him, and he later admitted it was really because Choi sucked.
Choi was completely useless for the Dodgers, batting only .161 the rest of the 2004 season while playing in 31 games. Choi was 10 for 62, and did not hit a homer for the Dodgers in 2004.
In Choi’s final season with the Dodgers in 2005, he played in 133 games. Mostly as a part time first baseman and occasional pinch hitter. Choi put up a sad line of .253/.336/.453 and hit 15 home runs with only 42 RBI. However six of his 15 home runs came during a three game stretch from June 10-12 of 2005 while playing against the Minnesota Twins. Choi slammed six home runs during the three game series. That was his last hurrah in the major leagues.
I remember Dodger fans would chant his name in the stands during his pointless at bats. They would chant Hee….Seop…..Choi. Perhaps they should have chanted Hee…Seop….OUT!
After the 2005 season, Choi was waiver released. Choi was claimed by the Red Sox. He spent the 2006 season with the triple AAA Pawtucket team before being designated for assignment on August 1 of 2006. On December 1, 2006, he was signed to a minor league contract by Tampa Bay, but was cut during spring training before the 2007 season.
Choi returned home to his native South Korea, but Hee Seop Choi’s story doesn’t end here.
The Dodgers would do just fine without him of course. They went on to win the 2006 NL Wild Card anyways, but lost in the playoffs to the Mets.
As for Choi he would sign with the Kia Tigers for the 2007 season, and after a couple of mediocre years, he rebounded to have a breakout year and lead his team to the regular season title. Choi’s return to form is quite amazing considering how awful he was in the Majors. In 2007 Choi batted .337 with 7 home runs, and 45 RBI in 52 games for the Tigers.
2008 was a bad year for Choi, as he battled a wrist injury only batting .229 with 6 home runs and 22 RBIs.
In 2009 Choi rebounded and returned to all-star form. He batted .308 with a Korean League best 33 home runs and 100 RBI. His 33 home runs ranked him second. He also finished second in RBI and walks with 103. Choi led the league with 98 runs scored, and finished in the top ten in batting average, OBP, and slugging. Choi led the Tigers to a regular season title while winning his first golden glove award for his defensive play. Choi also represented South Korea in the 2005 home run derby, hitting five home runs.
All total Choi’s MLB career was a complete and utter flame-out. His pathetic time with the Dodgers cemented his place on this list. Choi finished as a career .240 hitter in the Majors with 40 home runs. In comparison in the Korean Baseball Organization, his career average is .291 and he has hit 76 home runs. Choi is currently still playing for the Kia Tigers in South Korea.
The Dodgers learned a valuable lesson from the whole Choi experiment. A true Bum is a true Bum no matter where his nationality is from, or where he was born. A real Bum holds no geographic border. Bums can be found anywhere and everywhere around the world!
The Dodgers might also want to remember that making roster changing horrifically team altering and confusing trades while you’re in first place maybe isn’t such a good idea…no?