Geovany Soto's Changed Approach

Ron CoomerContributor IMay 13, 2010

CHICAGO - MAY 16: Geovany Soto #18 of the Chicago Cubs prepares to hit against the Houston Astros on May 16, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Astros 5-4. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

In 2008, Geovany Soto broke out in a big way, blasted 23 homers and hitting a .285 batting average on his way to National Rookie of the Year honors.

His sophomore season, however, he struggled to repeat his success, as he hit only .218 and 11 homers while struggling with a left oblique strain and a right shoulder problem in the middle of the season.

2010 seems to have brought renewed health, better conditioning, and a completely different offensive approach. Soto is tearing the cover off the ball so far this season, hitting 4 homers, a .313 batting average, and a .973 OPS.

Soto has the talent to sustain those averages, but it is a far more patient approach that may ascend him into Brian McCann territory.

So far, Soto has drawn seven more walks that strikeouts, leading to an incredible 1.41 BB/K ratio. He's currently walking more than 22% of the time, 10% more than his brief career average.

The secret behind his increased walk rate is (go figure) a lowered swing percentage. It's not just a little low though, it's almost 12% lower than the league average. Even more outstanding, his O-Swing% (swing percent at pitches outside the zone) is a ridiculous 11.4% (league average is 27.2%; Alfonso Soriano's sits at a 38.1%, by the way).

His ability to lay off pitches outside the zone has led to an increased dose of fastballs seen, which has led to a team-high 25.8 Line Drive percent.

Geovany Soto certainly has the ability to sustain his high walk rate, although a .467 OBP will be incredibly difficult to sustain. It is very encouraging to see a young, promising hitter like Soto to take an approach that tailors to taking what the pitcher gives.