Alfonso Soriano hit 10 home runs and slugged .613 in April. Over the remaining five months he hit 16 home runs and slugged .435. Although he had a very good April, his OBP was only .278. It was only .292 the rest of the season and finished just below .290.
Soriano has always been a guy who can carry a team when he gets hot and look terrible when he’s not. But these days those stretches when he’s not hot seem to be getting worse and worse. He is in his 30s now so there’s nothing surprising about that, but it is concerning.
So much has been written about Soriano on the interwebz and here at Obstructed View that it seems like we’d just be going over the same stuff if we did it again. Instead of that, let’s look at Soriano’s best game measured by WPA each of his 5 years with the Cubs.
He literally saved his best for last. Soriano had only two games in 2011 with a WPA higher than .274. Both of those occurred in the second half of the season and were over .400. The best game of his season was the final game he played. On September 27th Soriano went 2-3 with a home run, a walk and 3 RBI (.498 WPA). With the Cubs trailing 2-1 in the 8th and 2 men on, Soriano hit a home run to CF to give the Cubs a 4-2 lead. They’d add 2 more in the 9th and win 6-2.
April 30th, 2010: .492 WPA. Soriano went 2-3 with a home run, walk and 4 RBI. Soriano’s 3-run home run eliminated a 4-2 deficit and after the 6th they had a lead of 6-4.
April 11th, 2009: .714 WPA. Cubs trailing 5-4 in the top of the 9th with a runner on 2nd, the Brewers Carlos Villanueva on the mound. Cubs win expectancy is 17%. Cubs WE after the home run, scoring Joey Gathright too, was 82%.
May 17th, 2008: .586 WPA. Soriano was 5-5 with a couple home runs, a double and 3 RBI. The Cubs lost this one. They were leading 6-5 entering the 9th, but thanks a Carlos Marmol blown save the Cubs fell to the Pirates 7-6.
June 25th, 2007: Any Cubs fan who has forgotten this game should probably turn their Cubs Fan Card in. the Cubs were still fighting to get back to .500 after that awful start. They were still way behind the Brewers. The Cubs were beating the Rockies 6-1, and then 8-3 before the 9th inning, which was one of the worst 9th inning I’ve ever seen. The Cubs couldn’t afford to lose and entering the 9th there was almost no chance of it happening. The Rockies scored 6 and took a 9-8 lead. The Cubs had the bases loaded with 2 outs and Soriano at the plate. He singled to CF and the Cubs won the game. This has been, in my opinion, the most overlooked game in the 2007 season. Everybody points to the Zambrano/Barrett fight or to the Ramirez home run in the 9th off of Cordero. This was the whackiest of them all. This was the game in which some idiot fan jumped onto the field and charged at Bob Howry. Yeah, you remember that.
At the time, I had this to say:
The Cubs had just blown a 5-run lead and it wasn’t the first time they’d done that in the 9th inning this year. But the Cubs came back in the 9th and put together what was, in my opinion, the most exciting game I’ve seen since 1989. Some of you may remember this game from August 29th, 1989. After the 5th inning the Astros were beating the Cubs 9-0 at Wrigley Field. The Cubs eventually tied the game up and won it in extra innings.
Just four days later Ramirez would take Cordero yard to win that game. That was an awesome game too, but the Cubs/Rockies game beats it. It is, to this day, the second best Cubs game I’ve ever seen. It’s right there with that ’89 game against the Astros. The week of the Cubs blowing the Rockies game and then coming back and then Ramirez hitting that home run was the most exciting week of Cubs baseball in my life. Had the Cubs finished off the Marlins in 2003 I would easily put that ahead of that week, but they blew it.