Chicago Cubs: Why Geovany Soto Is Not Yet Done Being an Offensive Weapon

Tony Giardina@@tonygiardinaCorrespondent IApril 23, 2012

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 11: Geovany Soto #18 of the Chicago Cubs reacts after striking out in the 9th inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on April 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. The Brewers defeated the Cubs 2-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

When Geovany Soto came into the league, he became an offensive force almost immediately. In his rookie year, he batted .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBI on his way to NL Rookie of the Year honors. He even finished 13th in MVP voting that year.

Since then, injuries and inconsistency have turned Soto into an unreliable offensive player and far from the offensive force he was once projected to become. At just 29 years old, it is not too late for Geo to be an offensive weapon once again. He's shown that he has the ability, and the woeful Cubs could benefit from any signs of offensive life. 

Soto actually had a fantastic year in 2010, hitting .280 with 17 home runs and 53 RBI in just 105 games. He was also very patient at the plate and compiled a .393 OBP. The Cubs catcher followed this up with an abysmal 2011 where he hit .228 and set a career high in strikeouts. All of the progress he made up to that point vanished, but don't count him out for a bounce-back 2012.

Even if he is off to a slow start, a few tweaks can get him back to being a valuable run producer for the Cubs. 

First of all, he shouldn't be hitting in the seventh or eighth spot in the order. This is where most of his at-bats have come from in the last two years, and there is no reason why guys like Ian Stewart and Alfonso Soriano should be batting in the fourth and fifth spots ahead of Soto.

Even with his terrible 2011, Soto still got on base more often than either guy, and it wasn't close. Hitting him in the middle of the order could give Soto some much-needed confidence and break him out of his year-long slump. 

Soto also needs to revert back to what made him so successful in 2010: patience. Over the last two seasons, he has taken fewer walks and swung at more pitches out of the strike zone than he ever had before.

He has two walks in 46 plate appearances this season, and it is clear he is pressing to swing his way out of his poor start—his 11 strikeouts can attest to that. 

The 29-year-old's power is still there, he just needs to be more patient at the plate and not try to force his way out of his cold streak by swinging at just about everything. Moving him up in the order can't hurt an already struggling Cubs offense, and the team can benefit greatly with a solid season from Soto, either by finding a reliable run producer for the lacking offense or using him as trade bait at the deadline. 


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