The Cubs and their fans are giddy about Alfonso Soriano. Why shouldn't they be? After the All-Star break, Soriano has batted .363 with five home runs and 15 RBI. He has seemed like a solid fit in the No. 6 spot.
What a turn around, right? Wrong. Soriano hasn't faced decent pitching. It's not hard to be successful when that occurs. The Cubs are surging because they have played weak competition, and Soriano's "resurgence" is a microcosm of that weak schedule.
Here's a game-by-game analysis of his games since the All-Star break:
7/16, @WAS: Soriano goes 1-for-3 with a single and walk. The opposing pitcher he got the hit off was John Lannan, who has a season 1.31 WHIP and .268 batting average against, meaning it's not hard to get a hit. Soriano also was tagged out trying to extend his hit to a double.
7/18, @WAS: Soriano goes 1-for-4 with a home run and three strikeouts. Zimmerman has given up one home run every nine innings, so it's an easy thing to do. Zimmerman also has a .271 batting average against, which means the hit was all that easy.
7/19, @WAS: Soriano goes 2-for-3 with a home run, double, and a walk. These were quite possibly the easiest hits to get. The opposing pitcher was Garrett Mock, who has a 1.99 WHIP and astronomical .360 batting average against.
7/20, @PHI: Soriano went 3-for-4 with two singles and a double. Another lot of easy hits as Lopez has a 1.54 WHIP and .312 batting average against. Another of his hits came off of an injured Chad Durbin, who has a 1.52 WHIP.
7/21, @PHI: Soriano went 1-for-5. He had two strikeouts, a single, and two fly balls. His hit off of Blanton was one of the few he has had off an effective pitcher, and this is a stretch.
7/22, @PHI: Soriano went 2-for-5 with two singles, two popups, and a strikeout. One of his singles was off already-touched Chad Durbin. The other was off of Jamie Moyer, the 46-year-old with a .292 batting average against and 1.45 WHIP.
7/24, CIN: Soriano went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout. The single was yet another easy one, off of Aaron Harang who has an awful .297 batting average against and 1.46 WHIP.
7/25, CIN: Soriano went 3-for-4 with two singles, a home run, and a strikeout. Against Johnny Cueto, that's impressive right? Well, it was against a struggling Johnny Cueto, whose batting average against was .284 the ten games before going into this game.
7/26, CIN: Soriano went 2-for-4 with a single, double, fly-out, and GIDP. The opposing pitcher was Micah Owings, who has an awful 1.64 WHIP and terrible .282 batting average against.
7/27, HOU: Oh!!! Look what happens when he faces good pitching. Wandy Rodriguez is the best pitcher Soriano has faced so far, and he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and a GIDP against him. Then, against Jose Valverde, he struck out. Against Albert Arias, he grounded out. And then against Chris Sampson, who opponents bat .261 against, he cranked a grand slam, and was a child.
7/28, HOU: Soriano went 0-for-2 with two fly outs and two walks. Against a good pitcher in Roy Oswalt, he flied out and against a terrible pitcher in Wesley Wright, he did the same.
7/29, HOU: Soriano went 1-for-3 with a home run, strikeout, and fly-out. The pitcher was Mike Hampton, another easy home run as he's given up 11 in 99 innings pitched. Also, his WHIP is 1.53 and his batting average against is at the .290 mark.
7/30, HOU: Soriano went 2-for-3 with a double, single, and two walks. The opposing pitcher was Russ Ortiz, who has since been cut because he's so bad. His batting average against was .289 and his WHIP was 1.67.
8/1, @FLA: Soriano went back to his normal self, batting 0-for-5 with a walk. He couldn't do anything against Burke Badenhop, who has a .270 batting average against and 1.45 WHIP.
So I would be careful before jumping back onto the Alfonso Soriano bandwagon. The only thing I can see positive is that he's being more patient and actually taking some walks. But he's not "resurging," he's merely lucky. He has only faced two good pitchers (Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt). It's not hard to do well with terrible opposition.