I know we like to try to convince people that Alfonso Soriano is a better player than people give him credit. We don't like when boos cascade down on him for every single ball that lands in front of him in the outfield that the fat guy on the sofa thinks should have been an easy catch, or when the drunk guy in the bleachers thinks recognizing a slider outside is the easiest thing in the world to do.
So it is nice to see a positive piece about Soriano in the Sun-Times from Gordon Wittenmyer. The problem is, he's insane. Or an idiot. Or desperately trying to boost traffic to his columns. Probably a combination of the three. Because no rational human being with even a rudimentary understanding of baseball could ever state with a serious face that Alfonso Soriano is an MVP candidate in the National League. But Gordo does.
This year’s MVP race in the National League might have tilted his direction if the team wasn’t so bad. The NL West-leading Giants’ top player, Melky Cabrera, was suspended for performance-enhancing drug use, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun’s big numbers are diminished some by his own team’s losing record, and Matt Kemp and Joey Votto — who got off to big starts for their contending teams — both have missed significant time with injuries. It’s put guys such as the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen and the Cincinnati Reds’ Jay Bruce into prominent spots in the discussion.
Let's forget that Gordo thinks Braun's numbers should be diminished by his team's place in the standings. (Don't look now, but the Brewers and Phillies are are only 5 games out of the Wild Card and charging hard while St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and the Dodgers all struggle.) But even if we were to accept that Braun should be disregarded, and that Kemp and votto need to be eliminated due to injury, what puts Soriano in a league with Andrew McCutchen? Here are the NL's rWAR leaders as of right now:
- Andrew McCutchen (6.4)
- David Wright (6.1)
- Ryan Braun (6.0)
- Michael Bourn (6.0)
- Buster Posey (5.8)
- Yadier Molina (5.7)
- Jason Heyward (5.1)
- Chase Headley (4.7)
- Joey Votto (4.7)
- Giancarlo Stanton (4.7)
Soriano comes in at #85 at 1.3 rWAR, which ties him with Rafael Furcal and Wilin Rosario.
If we look at fWAR:
- Ryan Braun (7.2)
- David Wright (6.6)
- Andrew McCutchen (6.5)
- Michael Bourn (6.3)
- Buster Posey (6.2)
- Chase Headley (6.2)
- Jason Heyward (6.1)
- Aramis Ramirez (5.4)
- Yadier Molina (5.4)
- Matt Holliday (5.2)
Fangraphs is kinder to Soriano. He comes in 24th at 3.6 fWAR, bookended by Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes.
If you don't like WAR, he's 7th in the NL in homeruns and tied for 4th in RBI. He is not in the top ten in batting average, on-base percentage, or slugging percentage. He is, however, tied for 3rd in grounding into double plays.
Soriano isn't even clearly the most valuable player on this shitty team. According to B-Ref, they have Darwin Barney (4.3), Starlin Castro (2.7), and Anthony Rizzo (1.7) above Soriano's 1.3 rWAR. Hell, David DeJesus is right behind him at 1.2. Let's start the MVP campaign for Kim DeJesus' hubby!
Again, Fangraphs likes him more as he does lead the Cubs with Starlin Castro coming in 2nd at 2.7, Barney at 2.3, and Rizzo and DeJesus each at 1.7.
It's a great season for Soriano. Perhaps he is the Most Valuable Player That Everybody Had Mostly Given Up On As Completely Useless Prior to This Season, but let's have a little perspective. When you start printing nonsense about how Soriano is an MVP canididate, then stupid people who accept anything you say because it's in the newspaper are going to believe it and they will start to expect him to play like an MVP all over again. Then when he again starts showing his age (as we know he will sooner or later), the disappointment from the dopes will be magnified and he'll get even more unnecessary crap heaped on him from the stands than he does now.
Is there any editorial process at all at the Sun-Times? I honestly don't know how this got printed without Wittenmyer's colleagues laughing their asses off at him. Maybe they thought it was his submission to join The Onion writing staff.
DeLuca: What have you got today, Gord?
Wittenmyer: I explain how Soriano could be an MVP candidate if the Cubs were a better team.
DeLuca: HA HA HA HA HA HA! Great one! You're hilarious. What have you got, really?
Wittenmyer: That is what I've got.
DeLuca: Well fuck it, it's kind of late. I guess we'll print it.
Like I said, I'm glad it's at least a positive piece. I guess we just have to take what we can get in that area, however ridiculous it might be.