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Free Agent: Alfonso Soriano

Alfonso Soriano

Perhaps this year’s best all-around free agent is the subject of my profile today.  He can hit for power, motor around the basepaths, play a decent outfield or middle-infield, and hit for a solid average; in other words, he’s one of baseball’s few 5-tool players.  He is Alfonso Soriano, and in addition to everything I’ve already mentioned, he is likely to be one of the most expensive signings of the 2006 offseason.

Here’s a look at the statistics which make Alfonso Soriano such a great player…

  • Batting Average: .277
  • On-Base Percentage: .351
  • Slugging Percentage: .560
  • OPS: .911 — and pitchers dial that number often when facing him
  • Doubles: 41
  • Triples: 2
  • Homeruns: 46
  • RBI: 95
  • Runs: 119 — what’s that…about 1/5th of the Nats runs this season?
  • Stolen Bases/Caught Stealing: 41/17 — decent percentage
  • Walks: 67
  • Strikeouts: 160 — much too high for a leadoff hitter

With those numbers, Soriano’s a guy who can hit in any spot in the lineup, though most teams would prefer to have him hitting leadoff, or possibly in the heart of the order.  He has the speed to hit 1st, the power to hit 4th, the OBP to hit anywhere in the top-5, and the SLG to hit in the middle of the order.

Now is the time for me to begin criticizing the highly-coveted Soriano by hammering away at the faults in his “situational” stats.

  • Bases Empty: .278/.326/.556 — hit leadoff so most of his at-bats were in this category
  • Runners On: .274/.396/.566 — pretty solid, but watch this…
  • RISP: .231/.411/.462 — hmmm…a .231 with RISP won’t do
  • RISP w/2 outs: .197/.380/.410 — there’s out #3 if you can throw strikes
  • Bases Loaded: .273/.333/.636

Ok, so maybe that was a little harsh, after all, Soriano’s OBP with RISP was .411, but that .231 average is bound to make GM’s nervous when they think about forking over dozens of millions to Soriano.  I won’t dive deeper into Soriano’s other situational statistics, because there’s nothing very spectacular nor anything extraordinarily disappointing about them.

That said, here’s some other numbers on the Nats’ former leadoff slugger: his “split stats”.

  • Vs. Lefties: .293/.401/.581
  • Vs. Righties: .271/.333/.552
  • Home (RFK Stadium — pitchers park): .260/.348/.561 — great SLG for RFK
  • Away: .293/.354/.558
  • Day Games: .319/.403/.647
  • Night Games: .257/.326/.518 — as the sun goes down, Soriano does too

Soriano seems to do much better on the road, when facing lefties, and the game is played before sundown.  His numbers drop off a bit when he faces righties during nightgames at RFK.  Those stats are pretty typical of a righthanded batter whose home stadium is a pitchers park, so once again, nothing stands out.

Here are Soriano’s stats for his best and worst months, as well as his pre- and post-AllStar Break numbers…

  • Best Month — July: .368/.470/.779
  • Worst Month — September: .204/.298/.343 — bad way to end the year
  • Pre-ASB: .272/.338/.549
  • Post-ASB: .283/.367/.572

Those numbers actually say more about Soriano than you might think.  Soriano did considerably better in the 2nd half of the season than in the first, it would appear, if you look at his pre-ASB and post-ASB numbers.  However, if you consider that Soriano had his worst month in September and finished the season with an 0-for-17 slump, a different picture of Soriano’s effectiveness down the stretch appears.  He was far from the late-season peaker a playoff contender could have used in September, so perhaps it’s a good thing that none of the borderline teams acquired Soriano at the trade deadline.  Regardless, Soriano will need to work on improving his late-season production to make him a worthwhile signing for any club this Winter. 

Where will Alfonso Soriano be playing in 2007

The Nationals appear to have some interest in retaining Soriano, but his expected pricetag is well out of their range.  Soriano reportedly turned down a 5year 70million deal from the Nats, although that report was never confirmed and was later downplayed by the Washington front office.  Since Soriano’s contract expectations are so high, there are few teams that have a chance at signing the 40/40 star.  Those that are in the running are the San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, New York Mets, and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Other teams could certainly enter the running if Soriano were willing to accept less money, but it appears that the “dinero es muy importante” for Soriano.  Which team out of those 6 has the best chance?  Well…

My prediction: Soriano will be a Giant in 2007 and beyond, playing 2nd-base/Centerfield for the offensive-ly strapped San Francisco club.  SIGNED WITH CUBS: 8yrs 135Million. 

Stats Prediction: Soriano should hit around .280-.290 with 35-40HR and 85-95RBI in 2007.  He’ll score 100-110 runs and steal 40-45 bases, and impress just about any team he joins. 

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Tomorrow’s profile: Barry Zito

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Trivia Time!

Yesterday’s question (see — Free Agent Profile: Jason Schmidt) was…

Which team drafted Jason Schmidt in the 1991 Amateur Draft?

The correct answer…

The Atlanta Braves drafted Schmidt in the 8th round of the 1991 MLB Draft. 

Today’s question is…

The Washington Nationals acquired Soriano from the Texas Rangers this offseason for 3 players.  Can you name the 3 who went to Texas in the deal?

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2 Responses to “Free Agent: Alfonso Soriano”

  1. Interesting.

    Could you please do a similar profile of Japanese star Daisuke Matsuzaka? I’m wondering what kind of impact you think he’ll have in the MLB and who you think might win the rights to him in the auction over the next few days. Thanks

  2. Jake,

    I will do a similar profile for Daisuke Matsuzaka on Saturday. Here’s the schedule for this week…

    Thursday 11/2: Barry Zito
    Friday 11/3: Carlos Lee
    Saturday 11/4: Daisuke Matsuzaka
    Sunday 11/5: Juan Pierre


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