The Alfonso Soriano Decline

[caption id="attachment_66077" align="alignnone" width="600"]Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Jim McIsaac/Getty Images[/caption]

Alfonso Soriano was supposed to be a big part of this year’s offense after his amazing performance following being traded to the Yankees last season. However, that has not been the case, as Soriano has fallen off a cliff along with New York’s offense.

Soriano has been abysmal this season, and there is no way around it. He has hit .235/.262/.408 with a .288 wOBA and a 77 wRC+. This is after hitting .248/.321/.513 with a .360 wOBA and a 126 wRC+ during the second half of last season. He carried the Yankees offense with little protection around him, but has been unable to help lift this year’s offense that is in desperate need of help.

Soriano was not expected to keep up with those numbers, but the fact that he is not even a useful player at all anymore comes as a surprise. He averaged a 109 wRC+ over the last three seasons, so this has been a huge fall for him. Soriano has always been a streaky hitter, but this seems like he might finally be cooked at age 38.

Felix Hernandez made Soriano look silly last night with three strikeouts, and he did not look like he even had a chance. Soriano’s three pitch strikeout with runners at second and third with one out was particularly embarrassing.

Strikeouts and being a wild swinger have always been Soriano’s downfall, but his 27.2 percent strikeout rate is astronomical and almost six points higher than his career average.

Soriano has swung at 39.8 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone this season, which has pretty much been the norm for him throughout his career. He is making contact with 58.3 percent of those pitches out of the strike zone, which is actually almost five points higher than his career average.

The batted ball rates for Soriano are pretty much exactly the same as last year. His line drive percentage is down to 18.2 percent from 20 percent, but his fly ball and ground ball rates are almost exactly the same. So, there is nothing abnormal going on there.

The problem for Soriano is that he always used to make up for his strikeouts and lack of walks with his power, but that is gone too. He only has six home runs and a .173 ISO this season and has not homered since May 17th.  The added strikeouts and loss of pop might just be a result of loss of bat speed, since his plate discipline numbers and batted ball rates are the similar to his rest of his career.

Joe Girardi has started to take notice of Soriano’s decline and has only started him in seven of the past 12 games. Some of that was due to playing in NL parks, but his awful play also had to be another reason. His playing time may be reduced further if Carlos Beltran comes back healthy.

Beltran’s injury and Soriano’s struggles have forced Ichiro Suzuki into the lineup more and predictably the results have been poor. As expected, Ichiro has gotten exposed as soon as he received more playing time.

Soriano’s struggles have made signing Kendrys Morales make even more sense. Even if Beltran and Mark Teixeira return completely healthy you do not want Soriano as your everyday DH at this point. Morales would be a big upgrade there until Texiera’s wrist starts acting up again.

Injuries have been a big factor in the offensive struggles of the Yankees, but so has underachieving players. Soriano is the biggest culprit with no end in sight. Continue reading The Alfonso Soriano Decline

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