Let's Have a Quickie: Alfonso Soriano Doesn't Suck?!?

There, I said it. Alfonso Soriano may not suck. He’s been great this year, and of actual value to anyone who owns him. Soriano is hitting .331 with 7 homers and 23 RBI with 21 runs, giving him better numbers than Kevin Youkilis, Ryan Howard, and Hanley Ramirez. Confusing, right? Actually, there’s a logical explanation for all of these stats and we can determine how he’ll perform for the rest of the year. In the newest edition of “Let’s Have a Quickie,” I’ll take a look at Soriano’s numbers and we’ll see what his real value is from this point forward.

The average is a fluke
The man once traded for A-Rod has an average that he hasn’t seen in years. He hasn’t hit .300 since he was a spry, young second baseman hitting 9th for the Yankees in 2002 (his average was exactly .300 that year), and his career mark is an unimpressive .279. That includes a good chunk of time where he didn’t suck. The last two years (when he has sucked) his average has been closer to .260 and he’s only played 109 and 117 games, respectively. Looking at his metrics we can clearly see that the batting average, one of the reasons he’s been so valuable this year, will not continue. His BABIP is a staggering .375 this year, compared to the league average of .300, showing that he’s been remarkably lucky early in the year. His career mark is .308, so the BABIP this year is still incredible when juxtaposed with the MLB standard. He’ll come back to Earth, and so will the average.

He’s making more and better contact with the ball than he ever has, at age 33
Soriano’s overall contact rate is the highest it’s been in his long, inconsistent career. The man who was known for his inability to take a pitch and who strikes out on more than 20% of his AB’s for his career is all of sudden hitting the ball well whenever he swings it? Nope. He’s got a staggering 62.1% overall contact rate, meaning he hits the ball 62.1% of the time he swings the bat. Compare that to a 50.6% number for his career and a 54% number last year, and it seems a bit iffy. When he does hit the ball, he’s hitting line drives 24.2% of the time, almost 6% higher than last year. Those line-drives are coming at the cost of ground balls, which have decreased by almost 9%. These numbers are going to trend back toward his norm.

He hates being healthy
Granted, I don’t know if Soriano hates being healthy or just never is, but the numbers don’t lie. He’s never played a full season with the Cubs, going from 135 games in ’07 to 109 in ’08 and 117 last year. The odds are stacked against him that he’ll actually make it through the year. If he manages to rediscover the health of his youth, then maybe he’ll keep his value.

The Verdict: He’s not totally useless. That is, until he gets hurt. None of the metrics say anything about the home runs dropping, so that’s a plus. He’ll probably hit around .280 for the year, with something like 20 home runs if he plays the 135 games he did in ’07. That number drops though when the inevitable injury knocks him out for as long as it has the past two years.

I’ll call you, I swear.

Just remember, keep the bat on your shoulders.
-Backwards K

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