Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yankees Need More Sorianos On Their Roster

If not for Rafael and Alfonso Soriano, the Yankees would not have been in the ALCS in 2012 or in any playoff race this season. Before opting out of his contract to get a big money closer deal in Washington, Rafael Soriano saved the Yankees 2012 season after Mariano Rivera blew out his knee in May.

The acquisition of Alfonso Soriano at the 2013 Major League non-waiver trade deadline has been one of the best moves in baseball this season. Soriano showed his value again on Wednesday night when he hit a solo home run and then added a 2-run shot in the game deciding 4-run 8th inning. The Yankees 7-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles moved them back to within two games of the Tampa Bay Rays, the current holder of the number two wild card spot.

Soriano joined Manny Ramirez, Carlos Beltran David Justice, Mark McGwire, and Fred McGriff as the only players to hit 15 or more home runs with two teams in the same season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Soriano also joined McGwire as the only players to have three or more mulit-home run games with two different teams in the same year.

Soriano hit 17 home runs, drove in 51 runs, and had a .754 OPS with the Cubs prior to the trade that brought him to New York on July 26. In just 43 games in his second turn in pinstripes, Soriano has 15 home runs, 47 RBI and an .846 OPS.

The Yankees have had a better lineup than the Cubs, but the numbers are still phenomenal for the 37-year old. Whether or not the Yankees make the playoffs, Soriano could garner some American League Most Valuable Player votes despite playing just a half season in the junior circuit.

It's not unprecedented for a player to be in the running or win a regular season award despite not spending the entire season in one league. In June, 1984 the Cleveland Indians dealt pitcher Rick Sutcliffe to the Chicago Cubs. Sutcliffe had an extra month and a half over Soriano, but his number of starts were not that uneven. Sutcliffe captured the NL Cy Young Award when he went 16-1, 2.69 in 20 starts for the Cubbies. He had started the season just 4-5, 5.15 in 15 starts with the Tribe.

Soriano's teammate CC Sabathia finished 5th in the NL Cy Young voting when he went 11-2, 1.65 with 7 complete games for Milwaukee in 2008.  With free agency pending, the Indians dealt Sabathia on July 7 after he had compiled a 6-8 record with a 3.83 ERA.

Ramirez finished 4th in the National League MVP Award despite playing in just 53 games for the LA Dodgers in 2008. Ramirez put up good numbers for Boston with a .926 OPS, 20 HR and 68 RBI in 100 games prior to being run out of town on July 31. He was unconscious for LA though - a 1.232 OPS, 17 HR and 53 RBI.

Carlos Beltran could certainly have finished higher than 12th in the NL MVP voting in 2004. After his acquisition from Kansas City, Beltran had a .926 OPS, 23 HR and 53 RBI in 90 games for the Houston Astros. He also stole 28 bases without being caught. With more emphasis on batting average nearly 10 years ago, perhaps Beltran's .258 mark hurt him in the voting.

Whether Soriano gets recognition during awards season or not, the Yankees know they would be nowhere without the Dominican native.

There are three other Sorianos in minor league baseball today, though none are in the Yankees organization...yet.

Ariel Soriano, 22-year old utility player in the Rays organization
Francisco Soriano, 26-year old pitchers in the Nats organization
Wilson Soriano, 21-year old utility player in the Rockies organization

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