Over the past several weeks, Alfonso Soriano has become a lightning rod for the vitriol against the Yankees offense. And it is, for the most part, justified. Soriano is currently batting .228/.254/.396 (71 wRC+), and has “produced” between -0.4 and -0.9 WAR (depending on your WAR persuasion). He has been, to be blunt, atrocious.
For this, many folk are suggesting that Soriano should be simply cut loose – after all, the Cubs are paying his salary, and it is not difficult to imagine most anyone outproducing a sub-replacement-level player. Ichiro Suzuki has been significantly better, hitting .313/.366/.348 (99 wRC+) with much better speed and defense. Zoilo Almonte also looms on the shuttle between Scranton and the Bronx; he has shown flashes of competence in the bigs over the last two seasons, and boasts a 123 wRC+ in Triple-A this season (after posting a 124 mark there last season). Some have even suggested a platoon of Ichiro and Almonte as an alternative plan, which would likely yield, at the very least, improved defense and base-running.
Lost in all of this, however, is the simple fact that Soriano hasn’t been wholly useless – just mostly inept. To date, Soriano is batting .296/.320/.507 (122 wRC+) against LHP in 75 PA. While that is a small sample size, it does come on the heels of 143 wRC+ against southpaws last year, and a 116 wRC+ the year before that. That sounds like a player that would work quite well in a platoon role, doesn’t it?
In the end, Soriano should not be an everyday player, and injuries to Carlos Beltran and Mark Teixeira have left him overexposed, forcing him into the lineup into either an outfield corner or the designated hitter slot. That does not change the fact that he cannot hit right-handed pitching, to be sure – but, as the platoon-heavy A’s have demonstrated, a team can thrive with well-defined roles throughout the lineup.
And I’m not sure that the Yankees have a better right field or DH option against southpaws at this point.