Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Alfonso Soriano Sucks

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

This worked pretty well to paint the picture of how bad Brian McCann has been last week.  I figured, why not keep that fun going and do it again for Alfonso Soriano, he of the team-worst -0.4 fWAR through 56 games.  He's been just as big a drain on the offensive production as McCann but hasn't gotten nearly the coverage.  Until now.
  • Soriano hit .220/.233/.378 in May with a 34.9% K rate and 2.3% BB rate
  • He hasn't hit a home run since 5/17 and only hit 2 in May
  • He has just 2 RBI since 5/17, only had 9 in May, and doesn't have a single multi-RBI game this year
  • Among the 20 players with 100+ plate appearances who qualify as DHs this season, Soriano ranks 19th in OBP (.256), 13th in SLG (.399), 16th in wOBA (.282), 16th in wRC+ (73), 15th in fWAR, 3rd in K rate (28.2%), and dead last in BB rate (3.1%)
He's also been below-average when he has played in the outfield (-5 DRS in 179.0 innings), and for the season his batting line stands at .230/.256/.399.  That's a pretty big fall from the .256/.325/.525 he posted in 58 games after returning to New York last season.  Everybody with a brain knew he wasn't going to keep that power pace up this season, but I don't think anybody was expecting him to fall off the cliff quite as quickly and drastically as he has.

The scary part about it too is that it might be as simple as old Father Time catching up to Soriano.  His contact splits and in zone/out of zone swing and contact rates aren't that far off from last season or his career averages.  What is way down is Soriano's productivity against the fastball.  The major reason he's stayed such a dangerous power hitter this late into his career is because he's always had the bat speed to get around and crush mistake fastballs.  He's never registered as below-average against fastballs according to PITCHf/x.  Last season he was 20.7 runs above average.  So far in 2014, he's at -2.1.  He's below-average against sliders and curveballs too, but that's been the norm for the better part of his career.  What made up for that was his ability to crush fastballs.  He hasn't demonstrated that ability at all this season and it's the main cause for his poor K/BB trends and major decline in production.

This shouldn't come as even remotely unexpected.  The Yankees were taking a gamble on Soriano when they traded for him last season.  They knew they were going to keep him around as an everyday part of their lineup in some capacity this season at age 38, and so far it's looked like that's a gamble on which they lost.  Soriano has looked cooked at the plate, old in the field, and his disappearance as a legit power presence in the lineup has been just as detrimental as McCann's struggles or Teix and Beltran's injuries.

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