Spring Training 2011 Mega Preview: Alfonso Soriano

Spring Training 2011 Mega Preview: Alfonso Soriano

Some people really hate Alfonso Soriano. For example, take this drunk woman I met in the bleachers last summer. Soriano hit two home runs in the game and basically carried the offense for the Cubs that night. Now I'm not Sori's biggest fan either, but I can appreciate a good night at the plate as much as anyone else. This woman, however, would not have it.

"Screw you, Soriano!" she roared in between sips from her neon-colored cup, which I can only assume was filled with some kind of alcohol mentioned in a Jimmy Buffet song. "You suck, asshat!"

As the game progressed, the woman slowly became increasingly offensive to all my senses. Her slurred Soriano-fueled diatribes invaded my ears, she stood in my line of sight for innings on end, and she wreaked of the Wrigley Field bathrooms. I planned to kill her as soon as possible, but first I needed to know why she hated the Fonz so much.

"Because he sucks," she said, sloshing her drink onto the front of her Purdue hoodie. "I mean, he only gets, like, two hits every five at-bats."

Two hits every five at-bats? If only he did, drunk floozy. If only he did.

It seems like every spring we read and hear about Soriano feeling rested and ready for the upcoming season. "He's never been healthier in his entire life! Really, it's true!"

And really, it was kinda true in 2010. Soriano played 147 games last season, his most as a member of the Cubs. And although he improved somewhat significantly over his 2009 numbers, last year was a cruel reminder that even when healthy, Soriano will never be a 30/30 guy again. Never, never forever never.

To expect a repeat performance in 2011 would be a reasonable stance to take when analyzing Soriano's upcoming season. Sure, he's a year older, but he's also got a year of experience batting lower in the order. Let's assume those factors off-set each other for the time being, then a .260/.320/.500-ish with 20+ homers and 80+ RBIs is certainly a possibility. Of course, this assumption is based on Soriano having another healthy season, which has been an exception rather than a rule since he joined the Cubs in 2007.

Okay, now that I have the reasonable expectations out of the way, here's where I'll personally judge Soriano's success in 2011: dingers. Yup, dingers. I want lots-o-dingers. Specifically, I want at least 30.

Soriano hasn't hit 30 home runs since 2007 (although he did have 29 in 2008), but all will be forgiven if he can do it again this season. Unlike his abilities as a baserunner and outfielder, which have practically disappeared, Soriano's power is still somewhat valuable to the Cubs. Thirty plus homers out of the sixth spot from your left fielder is nothing to ignore. Hit some dingers and the fans will probably ease up on his errors, lack of stolen bases and pretty much everything else he sucks at.

Or he could just two hits every five at-bats. I'd settle for that. 

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  • Would you take a .400 average with no dingers the whole year?

  • That depends... Does he still have a ton of power, but no home runs? If a lot of those hits were xBH, absolutely. That's a .400 OBP plus any walks he can coax. I'd even support him leading off again in this scenario.

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