Alfonso Soriano just hit his seventh home run of the season. It is somewhat surprising to see Soriano do so well out of the gates in 2010 considering that very few people expected much from him this season. We’re we completely wrong on Soriano? Maybe, but such a hot start really isn’t that surprising. It is, however, unsustainable.
Through 82 at-bats this season: .338 AVG, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 1 SB
Through 82 at-bats last season: .305 AVG, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 3 SB
The rest of the 2009 season: .234 AVG, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 6 SB (393 AB)
Soriano fell victim to injuries as well as some big-time slumps. His season ended only three days into September. Will things be different this season?
I wrote this about Soriano this preseason:
The Cub I don’t want is Alfono Soriano and I have stayed well clear in mock drafts. For two seasons in a row Soriano has yet to top 500 at bats. In every season he has been with the Cubs he has missed time due to a leg injury. He ended 2009 needing knee surgery. Say goodbye to those nice stolen base totals. Soriano is also 34 years old, which in non-steroid terms means a decline is coming or already here. For Soriano it may be a combination of both. Always a free swinging/low contact hitter, there were visible signs of his slowing bat speed last season as he was consistently beat inside by fastballs.
Well, at least part of this statement is correct so far. Soriano has only one stolen base on one attempt this season. His days of being a contributor in that category are over. The other aspects of what I wrote still have to play out. It is, after all, only 82 at-bats.
Soriano’s current AVG is almost assured to drop. His BABIP is at .333 despite over 50 percent of his balls in play being classified as fly balls (fly balls are more likely to turn into outs than line drives and ground balls). His career BABIP is .307 and he has only held a BABIP over .330 twice in his career (2002 and 2007). Soriano is also swinging at pitches outside the strike-zone over 37 percent of the time and making below league average contact on his swings overall.
According to CBSSports.com, Soriano has recently been traded for Heath Bell, Ricky Weeks, Stephen Strasburg, Aramis Ramirez, Matt Cain and Grady Sizemore in one for one trades.
Clearly, some owners are viewing him as a valuable commodity.
Based on his recent injury history and age, it might be a good idea to sell high on Soriano. His current AB/HR rate of about 11 is unsustainable. Not a single player last season held such a rate over the full season. If you own Soriano you’ve got what is very likely the best production of his season. Be happy with that and send him packing with a smile on your face.