San Fransisco Giants RHP Tim Lincecum has been known as “The Freak.” We have been calling him that now for so long that the moniker belongs to him.
While Lincecum may be The Freak now, I always believed the original Freak was Alfonso Soriano.
When Soriano first came up with the New York Yankees, he was this skinny, 135-lb-soaking-wet toothpick that could hit a baseball 400 feet and do it with what appeared to be very little effort.
We all remember the home run he hit off of Curt Schilling in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series on a pitch that was at his shoetops. It was a “How did he do that?” moment.
Soriano has had a lot of “How did he do that?” moments throughout his career, but over the past couple of years, he really has showed signs of slowing down. At his best with the Yankees, Washington Nationals and even in his first year with the Chicago Cubs, Soriano was a five-, six- or even seven-win player.
Over the past two years, Soriano was worth a combined two wins for the Cubs. He was a replacement-level player.
Now, at the age of 35, not much was expected of Soriano coming into the 2011 season. But after the first month and a week of the baseball season, Soriano is leading baseball in home runs with 11. He even had one of those “How did he do that?” moment against Armando Galarraga on Friday night.
He hit two HRs off of Galarraga that night, and the second one to right-center field was a thing of beauty. When Galarraga saw the ball go out, he kind of just chuckled on the mound because what he saw was ridiculous power that very few guys have.
What’s been interesting about Soriano’s season so far is that he hitting lots of HRs, but other than that, he’s not doing much else.
Going into Wednesday’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Soriano had the highest K percentage of his career (25.7 percent) and the lowest BB percentage of his career (2.8 percent). Soriano has never been a take-a-pitch guy, but three walks in 105 plate appearances is Vladimir Guerrero-esque.
Soriano has also turned into a statue when on first or second. Soriano was a guy who used to steal 30 or 40 bases a season. Now, he’s Prince Fielder at first. His stolen base attempts have declined four straight years, and this year he hasn’t attempted one stolen base.
What concerns me about Soriano is that all his success right now is tied into hitting for power. His .352 ISO is unsustainable (.230 would be more realistic), and if he is not hitting for power and he is not getting on base in any other way, then what does he become?
He becomes the replacement player he was for the past two years.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg