Alfonso Soriano Dislikes Slow Things

It took long enough, but it seems the National League has discovered the secret to Alfonso Soriano’s success: throwing him fastballs. As a nightmare season creeps on for Soriano, he continues to see more and more breaking and off-speed pitches than previous years. Just compare the amount of fastballs thrown his way to those of recent campaigns in the NL:

2006 – 54.1%
2007 – 54.0%
2008 – 53.2%
2009 – 45.7%
Trying to hit any pitch that registers below 90 miles per hour has always been a chore for Soriano. Since 2002 his wFB/C is 2.02 and wCT/C is 1.65, with the exception of change-ups, Soriano has struggled mightily against every other pitch. -0.92 versus sliders, -0.37 against curves, and even -3.32 against split-finger fastballs pitches. That means that for every 100 fastballs Soriano sees, he produces two runs, and for every 100 sliders, he loses a run of production.

Soriano is walking and striking out as expected without flashing his power as often. For some perspective, consider this: Soriano’s .184 ISO would be the lowest of his career since 2001, when he was 25-years-old and in the midst of his first full season. A spotty BABIP is to blame for some of the issues, but Soriano is also hitting fewer homeruns and more infield fly balls. I wouldn’t expect that to continue since Soriano has seen his IFFB% rise and fall over the years with little predictive value.

Soriano is hitting a career high in groundballs and a career low in line drives which aren’t the directions you would like to see from your highly-paid slugger. Of course Soriano is 33-years-old, and some drop in offensive performance was expected, but no projection system had Soriano falling below a .350 wOBA and now ZiPS has Soriano finishing at .330.

Quite a drop, and nothing his defense to date is making up for.

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Slugger O'Toole
14 years ago

I am not that surprised at all. When Soriano came up with the Yankees he caught fire quick and then it seem that everyone started baiting him with sliders and he fell apart. He seemed to me to be an overrated player at that time and I would not expect him to have a very productive post-30 career.