Alfonso Soriano had a rather astonishing season in 2012 as he knocked in 108 run while going deep 32 times in a season, impressive enough to pick up a 6th place vote in the NL MVP (for more on that see Around the Horn – Awards). Did you see that coming? Be honest, you didn’t. I know because I took a lot of heat for drafting Soriano in the NL LABR draft. Here are some quotes from my Player Profile on Soriano written before last season.
“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… Grab Soriano as your 5th outfielder and watch him rack up the homers and the RBI.”
I was right on wasn’t I? That being said, I have to admit to being surprised that Soriano had as much success as he had. Soriano went deep 32 times, his highest total in five years. What makes that number even more impressive is the fact that he went all of April without a home run. Moreover, Soriano didn’t hit his first home run until May 15th in his 31st game. Think about that. He gave away roughly a fifth of the season and still hit 32 homers. His total of 108 RBIs was his highest total since 2005 when he had 104 RBIs. In fact, Soriano actually set a new career best with those 108 RBIs (he has one other 100 RBI seasons with 102 in 2002). No one could have predicted a career best in his 12th full season. Soriano scored only 68 runs, not a strong total for a guy who knocked himself in 32 times, but it was still a four year high in runs scored. Soriano even had a four year high in batting average at .262, though that number is obviously not going to do any fantasy squad any good. Finally, Soriano stole six bags, a pathetic total for a guy who has swiped 40 bags on three occasions and who for 8-straight years swiped at least 18 bases. Still, it was a three year high (he stole seven bases in 2010-11). All in all Soriano had an extremely impressive season given his draft day cost and expectations.
Let’s not go overboard with the praise though. Let me take that back. Praise Soriano for what he accomplished in 2012, but realize that the chances of a repeat from the 37 year old outfielder in 2013 is small. Despite all the recent bests that Soriano posted and were enumerated above, there is also the fact that he appeared in 150 games (151 actually) for the first time since 2006. Expecting a repeat there is asking for trouble with the aging vet. Therefore, even if he somehow repeated his rates from last season in 2013, chances are pretty solid that a regression in his counting category numbers is in the offing. Next up is the fact that he hit .262 last season, .011 points below his career mark. He got on base at a .322 clip, one point below his career number. He had a .499 SLG, a four year high, but still six points below his career mark. None of that points to anything to get excited about. Soriano also had a K-rate of 24.9 percent. We all know he isn’t afraid to strike out, but that number was his highest full season mark ever, and four percentage points clear of his career rate. That’s not exactly a good sign for a guy whose bat speed is slowing with age. Counter to that are his .303 BABIP and 20.4 percent line drive rate, both marks four year bests. It’s a pretty fair bet both of those numbers recede at least a bit in 2013. It’s also not a good bet that Soriano will repeat his 17.8 percent HR/F rate, the second best mark of his career (he posted an 18.3 mark in 2006).
Soriano had a great 2012 effort. Pat him on the back for that. If you took my advice and drafted him you reaped the rewards. However, we’re now looking ahead to 2013 and Soriano does not represent the same value. Some will elevate his outlook based on his ’12 effort, so he represents less of a draft day steal. Also, he’s a year older and coming off a season that, for a variety of reasons mentioned above, is unlikely to be repeated. I would look at his 2010 levels of production (.258-24-79-67-5) if trying to set expectations for the coming season.
By Ray Flowers