There was a time when Alfonso Soriano was one of the elite lead-off hitters in the game. Not only could he hurt you with his power, he could also hurt you with his speed on the base paths. He is one of only three players to be in the 40 home run – 40 stolen bases club.
At 34 he is not past his prime quite yet, but as his statistics show, last season was a let down. His statline last season was 0.241/20/55/9, which is not actually a terrible season. However when you make $18 million a season and it’s not the NFL where you can be released at any time to save on cap ramifications, these numbers don’t justify the salary. News out of Cubs camp this sprint is due to his deteriorating stats, he is moving from the lead-off slot to the 5th or 6th slot in the line-up.
Coach Lou Pinella has said that this is more of a promotion, because it would enable Soriano to generate more RBIs for the team. Even though he has been all All Star every season since his rookie year (and last season), he is not being treated as last season being a blemish on an otherwise brilliant career. There is a simple reason for this, stats don’t lie.
For three straight seasons, since turing in his 40-40 season at 30 years old, his stats have been steadily decreasing. More improtantly his power and speed have never been the same since that magical 40-40 season. After hitting 46 in 2006, he has hit 33,29 and 20. His RBI totals have dropped from 95 to 55 and his average has dropped from a career average of 0.278 to 0.241.
It is clear that he is not the same player he was just 3 years ago. His is in the twilight of his career and when this contract runs out, he will have to be willing to take a serious pay cut to continue to play baseball. Either that, or a smarter move, which would be to step away from the game all together.
His eBay value has taken an especially big hit from his low par season. Autographs used to fetch between $25 and $45 now only go for between $5 to $10. The card featured below, once would fetch $75+, sold for only $29. Clearly his days as a feared hitter are gone, how much longer he can stay in baseball will be determined by how he handles the comeback this season. If it’s more of the same, it could be the beginning of the end for Soriano.