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'Lil Big Man
2006-06-15 06:05
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Jack Curry has a fun piece on our boy, 'Lil Soriano, who is swinging some kind of big stick for the Nationals this year. Soriano and Nick Johnson will face the Yanks this weekend in Washington.

Comments
2006-06-15 06:52:28
1.   rbj
So if Sheff's the DH next year (which means Giambi at first and Andy Philips consulting the magic eight ball to see if he gets any playing time) who would you rather see in rf: Melky or Soriano?
Personally, I'll take the melkman
2006-06-15 07:27:41
2.   yankz
1 As Jack Curry said it, Sheff will be 39 and coming off an injury-ravaged season. And Giambi at 1B? Pass.
2006-06-15 08:25:58
3.   Dan M
My biggest fear is that Sori has a huge weekend against us, and George gets a bee in his bonnett to bring him back.
2006-06-15 08:42:46
4.   RichYF
Biggest problem with the Melkman is that he's not swinging a big stick right now. I'd much rather have him out there considering he's a switch hitter and he has a strong arm while Sori is getting used to the OF. That being said, I love Soriano. I was really upset when he got traded. He's a pretty solid bat, but he strikes out a lot and has a pretty low OBP. I'm not sure another stick like that is really useful for the Yanks.

Matsui and Sheff are patient hitters with big bats. The thing about the Yanks lineup is that there are so many great hitters, a "weak" player like Melky playing the OF is fine. We have sluggers throughout the order that can more than make up for his shortcomings. Unfortunately, unless Melky starts getting more line drive hits or starts hitting some deep blasts, he's not going to stick around in NY. He looks a lot like Cano, only with patience. I love his ability to take pitches, but I really hope he develops some power. It seems like right now he's just trying to get decent wood on the ball rather than worrying about driving it. He'll be fine, I just hope he gets to stay.

2006-06-15 09:47:57
5.   Start Spreading the News
The problem with Soriano is his lack of patience. Sometimes that helps when he swing at anything and everything. See the homer of Shilling in 2001 Game 7 for an example. That pitch was inside and at his toes! Shilling couldn't believe that Soriano hit that out.

But once people learned to pitch him, Soriano's numbers started to fall. Maybe the Game 7 of 2003 ALDS showed everyone how to get him to chase pitches. Since then numbers have dropped off. Witness his OPS:
2001: 736
2002: 879
2003: 863
2004: 808
2005: 821

Both of the last two years were in a hitter's park. So his park adjusted OPS shows a pretty bad dropoff.

Now this year he has been hitting the lights out in an extreme pitcher's park. Is it because he has become a better hitter than the last two years? Has he learned more discipline? Look at his walks in the past few years.

2001: 29
2002: 23
2003: 38
2004: 33
2005: 33
2006: 55 -- projected

So has he suddenly learned to take a pitch? Or do pitchers fear him more? I think the latter. Why? Let's look at his strikeouts.

2001: 125
2002: 157
2003: 130
2004: 121
2005: 125
2006: 142 -- projected

So it seems that he is swinging more. So if a pitcher makes a mistake, the ball is going yard.

But what about if the pitcher doesn't make a mistake? Like in the playoffs? His playoff numbers?:
.233 Avg .282 OBP .336 Slug .618 OPS

So against savvy playoff pitching, he struggles.

What does this say about Soriano? I think he is a good regular season player to have. He will help out your team by hitting homers and doubles. He won't hit for average since he has never hit higher than .300. He won't draw walks. So during slumps, he will kill you -- unlike Giambi.

But against pitchers who don't make mistakes, he will suffer.

This is not the case with more disciplined players like Jeter, Bernie, etc... They have playoff numbers that resemble their regular season numbers. That means that the higher caliber of pitcher doesn't baffle them.

For a team like the Yanks which count on being in the postseason, Soriano will be a liability once they are there.

2006-06-15 12:02:21
6.   singledd
5 .233 Avg .282 OBP .336 Slug .618 OPS
Tell me, what was the Yankee team OPS for those series? And if we go player by player, does that mean anyobe who was worse (there were a few) is a liability in the PS?

Too small a sample size, and you were looking at a young player. Sori has his faults, but between his speed and his bat, he is a PLUS player anyway you look at it.

2006-06-15 21:53:52
7.   Start Spreading the News
It is true that the postseason is a small sample size, though 146 ABs is still a decent sample. I am guessing that the Yanks didn't put up .618 OPS as a team from 2001 onwards but it is too complicated to check.

Regardless, I was not drawing conclusions about Soriano based on just his postseason performance. I gave his regular season numbers for five years. What I hoped to point out that Soriano's main fault (lack of patience) has been consistent throughout his career. I also tried to point that based on his strikeouts, he seems to have gotten even more impatient. I don't know where to look up number of pitcher per AB.

Also, I would say that he is a plus player ONLY if he hits. Otherwise he brings nothing to the team -- defense is suspect in left, atrocious at 2nd. And he will not walk when in a slump. Then what good is his speed if he can't get on base?

Currently he relies on pure athletic ability to get by. He is 28 at the prime of his career. Once the athleticism starts to fade, most athletes rely on baseball smarts to help them out. Soriano doesn't seem to have much of that to fall back on.

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