Goatriders of the Apocalypse

2009 Player Previews - Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano

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Hoppy McHopperson tantalized us this offseason with rumors of a possible decent deeper into the heart of the batting order and out of the leadoff spot...only to have those rumors shot down days earlier.

Now going into 2009, Alfonso Soriano appears to ready to terrorize opposing pitchers and his own fan base from the No. 1 spot yet again.

While we could sit here and debate where Soriano should hit in the order for days on end, we’re going to just focus on looking ahead to this upcoming season.

Since coming to the Cubs two seasons ago, there seems to be one consistent theme to the Soriano story: He will get hurt.

So now that we can all expect Fonsie to limp off the field at some point this year, let’s not freak out when it happens.

Despite only playing in 109 games last season, Soriano still led the team in homers (29) and the Cubs enjoyed quite a bit of success without him.

That being said, there should be no worries. The guy will still produce and the Cubs should be able to sustain themselves without #12 roaming the outfield.

Although some reporters were writing about Soriano looking fresher and having more energy than he has had the past few years, I tend to take this information with a grain of salt and a bullsh!t card.

We’ve all anxiously been waiting for the  40/40 Soriano circa 2006 to reappear, but it ain’t going to happen friends. That Fonsie is long dead and gone. What we’re left with is a dinger-smashing strikeout artist who loves to make every routine catch into dramatic theatrical production. The speed isn’t there anymore and he’s too fragile to play enough games to hit 40. He got older and his production dropped. That’s what humans not on steroids do.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing however. I fully expect Soriano to put up nearly 30 homers this season (can you imagine if that power was being generated from the fifth or sixth spot in this batting order...anger rising) and to hit somewhere near .280 again. Hell, the guy might even steal 25-30 bases if he can stay healthy for nearly a full season. And while it’s easy to predict those numbers based on his past performances, his stats also suggest that we shouldn’t expect anything more.

So I guess it’s a given. The guy is going to bat leadoff, hit homers and eventually get hurt. Same story, different year, lots of hopping.

Freak or not, an injury is

Freak or not, an injury is an injury. Soriano's history with the Cubs suggests he will get hurt (major or minor) sometime during the season. Since coming on board, he hasn't shown that he can stay healthy for a full year, so I don't think it is unreasonable to assume he'll get hurt.

That being said, if he can stay healthy, Soriano has the ability to hit 35-40 homers over the course of roughly 150 games. That is also a totally reasonable situation to predict, although I think it is a bit optimistic.

Maybe I'm just too much of a pessimist to think he can stay healthy...

To each his own I guess.

Last year's injury was not

Last year's injury was not his doing. Jeff Bennett is an asshole.

I think Soriano can play 150 games and hit 35 homers pretty easily.

Good old Jeff Bennett

Jeff Bennett is not particularly someone that you want to say knocked you out of the season for any amount of time, but he did. Sori dives out over the plate, while basically standing on top of it, so he's going to get knocked on his ass quite a bit. Even if its by the like of an unknown nomad such as Jeff Bennett. I would love to see Sori back off the plate a touch and utilize the entire field when he is hitting, as opposed to standing on top of the plate so that he can pull any pitch that doesn't hit him within his reach. Saying this kinda makes me want to look up his hits by direction or to each field, just to see how extreme of a pull hitter he really is. In any case the cubs signed Sori to an 8 year deal, I'm by no means the biggest optimist here, but I would have to hope that the odds are on the cubs side that he can remain healthy for at least one season during his time in blue pinstripes. Whether or not its this year, your guess is as good as mine.

HC, when looking at

HC, when looking at Soriano's stats. He's been HBP only 62 times in his career. I hardly find that an astounding amount and therefore would have to disagree with your statement that he gets knocked on his ass quite a bit...well...unless he has reflexes like a cheetah.

Do you remember the injury

Do you remember the injury Soriano sustained? He didn't bruise his ass from falling; he broke his wrist. It's not that Bennett is the hardest thrower in the game. He just happened to go wild on one pitch, in the high 80s, that hit Soriano in exactly the wrong spot.

You really think you have a good idea on how Soriano should adjust his approach at the plate? Like, that Soriano, Gerald Perry and no one else on the Cubs' staff thought of? That kinda baffles me.

no I don't think that at

no I don't think that at all. I think he would get hit less if he didn't stand on the plate, and I think he could potentially be a better hitter if he were to hit the ball to all fields. Not exactly crazy thinking.

Now all that's left is to

Now all that's left is to find a spray chart. Where should we go for that?

I will look for the spray chart, but...

I found on baseball-reference.com a hit location stat, which tells the direction the ball was hit but only for the hits in which he reached base. Looking at this info lends some credence to what I'm saying here though.

Looking only at 2008 Alfonso Soriano's stats on hits either Pulled or Up-the-Middle:

-112 out of 127 hits (88%)
-23 out of 27 2B's (85%)
-28 out of 29 HR's (96.5%)
-69 out of 75 RBI's (92%)

Again this only takes into account his hits and not all balls put into play. Most of these numbers also aren't too far off his career percentages in the same categories nor are they much different from the monster season he had in 2006, so his approach has been much the same throughout his career and during his most productive years. I'm going to look for other sources that have a more detailed spray chart that includes all balls put into play.

Go to the Cubs website for a Hitting Chart

http://mlb.mlb.com/stats/individual_player_hitting_chart.jsp?c_id=chc&pl...

That is the actual link to the page, but just go to Soriano's stats on the Cubs homepage and click on Hitting Chart. The feature allows you to layer any of his statistics over the field you choose; including singles, doubles, triples, homers, fly ball outs, and ground outs. The feature shows you his hitting charts for each stadium, but I don't think that you can look at his chart for the overall season all at once on this site.

Yeah Psymar was all over it

Yeah Psymar was all over it this morning.

Ok, so, Soriano is a pull hitter. You think he would be better if he used the whole field? And you don't think he or anyone on the Cubs staff has realized this?

Soriano Pull-happy

No its readily apparent to all, I surely don't think that I'm the only one that noticed. Also I didn't know anyone else had found info about the spray charts, so I apologize if what I posted was repetitive information.

Without a doubt, I think Sori would be a better hitter if he used the opposite field more. Balls on the outside corner that he continually rolls over and grounds to short trying to pull could potentially become a well-struck line-drive into right field. I'm not saying he shouldn't look to pull the ball when its there for him to, but its pretty easy to put a game plan together for a pitcher facing Sori when it gets down to crunch-time. Alfonso Soriano is one hell of a talented player with skill and ability off the charts, but his approach is flawed and one that nearly any pitcher in the league can exploit.

You're missing my point.

You're missing my point.

You're saying that you think Soriano would be a better hitter if he used the opposite field more.

I'm saying: if this were true, don't you think Soriano or a hitting coach or someone that works for the Cubs would realize this, and correct Soriano's issue so he were a better hitter?

I see what you're saying AJ

I have no idea if anyone other than me thinks that this is an issue or that it is a detriment to him as a hitter, so I can't really comment on that. I do think that even if the team's hitting coach were to think that this is an issue, it likely would be difficult to convince a 10 year Major League veteran to change their approach in light of the success a player such as Soriano has experienced. But, yes, overall in my humble opinion I think that Sori could improve as a hitter if he utilized the entire field more.

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