Alfonso Soriano gets no respect. He gets dogged for not producing a strong batting average, for not stealing bases anymore, and for being vastly overpaid. Even with all of that, I’m still here to tell you that Soriano might just be a strong draft day add because everyone is so down on the former 40/40 man from the Cubs that he could very easily represent a solid value add. The facts.
(1) Soriano has hit .241, .258 and .244 the past three years. Among players with at least 1,500 plate appearances the last three seasons Soriano’s .248 batting average is 117th behind guys like Yuniesky Bentancourt (.252) and Jose Lopez (.250).
(2) Soriano has stolen all of 16 bases the past three years. From 2001-2008 Soriano swiped at least 19 bases each season.
(3) Soriano signed an 8-year deal for $136 million in 2006. He’s owned $18 million each of the next three years. Think of it this way. He’s the hitting version of Barry Zito (the Giants pitcher is owed $39 million the next two years with an $18 million club option or a $7 million buyout for 2014).
So why in the world am I bothering to waste my valuable time writing about Soriano? Here’s why.
(1) Soriano has hit at least 20 homers each season since 2002. Even the last four years when Soriano has failed to record 500 at-bats in a single season, he’s still had efforts of 29, 20, 24 and 26 homers. Among outfielders who have played in the National League Soriano’s total of 99 homers is fifth just one homer behind Jay Bruce for the fourth spot (Ryan Braun had 127, Matt Kemp 111 and Jayson Werth 107). Even if we add in all outfielders regardless of league Soriano’s mark of 99 homers is still tied for 8th beset with Matt Holliday and Josh Hamilton.
(2) Soriano has posted at least 75 RBI in three of the past four seasons. He’s also racked up 75 RBI in eight of the last 10 seasons. Moreover, Soriano’s total of 88 RBI last year was one more than Giancarlo Stanton, six more than Dan Uggla and Brandon Phillips, and 13 more than Matt Holliday. Heck, it was only one less than Andrew McCutchen’s total of 89 and it was the same total as Justin Upton’s 88.
(3) Soriano, according to MockDraftCentral, is going off the board as the 83rd outfielder at 238th overall. I may be off my rocker here, but Soriano is going behind guys like Raul Ibanez (232), Chris Heisey (233), Domonic Brown (236) and Jason Bay (237). Does that seem right to you? Ibanez is likely to be a part-time DH with the Yankees. Heisey looks like a 4th outfielder in Cincinnati now that the Reds have signed Ryan Ludwick. Brown is likely to spend at least half the year in Triple-A (see the comments by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. who suggested that Brown could spend the entire 2012 season in the minors). Bay has hit 18 homers with 104 RBI the last two seasons while hitting .251. You really want all four of those guys before Soriano?
I’m not saying Soriano is a superstar, or that he’s a building block – he is not. However, I do think that he is being overlooked, and the data supports me. Soriano isn’t an option to help in the average or stolen base columns, but lots of players we roster in the fantasy game have deficiencies. However, when you just look at what Soriano did last season you are smacked in the face with the fact that only 14 outfielders in the game hit at least 25 homers with 85 RBI last season. Given that he is going off the board in the 80′s at the outfield position on draft day, you have to see my point right? Grab Soriano as your 5th outfielder and watch him rack up the homers and the RBI… at least he’s still good for that.
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By Ray Flowers