Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has the reputation around baseball as being a poor fielder. This is a case where looks can be deceiving.
Contrary to popular belief Alfonso Soriano rates as an above average left fielder. According to ultimate zone rating he was rated as a plus defender in 2007 and 2008. He was rated slightly below average in 2009, but I would think his injury had a lot to do with it. He’s off to a good start this season as well. Now I know most people will disagree with the numbers and the conclusion, but it makes sense if you think about it. Ultimate zone rating compares you in relation to others playing the same position. Besides Carl Crawford and Matt Holliday there are not too many left fielders you can say are better than Soriano. I’m not saying I don’t get nervous when a ball gets hit to him because he will make the occasional error and the stats reflect that. He makes up for the errors by displaying above average range and a great arm.
This is a case where people’s eyes are wrong here. I think it could be because people focus on the few plays he messes up and forget his successes. People often make the mistake of lumping Soriano in with the likes of Ryan Braun and Manny Ramirez and he’s better than both. People use the words below average or bad without thinking of the consequences. Obviously playing a position that does not place much emphasis on defense helps him, but he can only be compared to his peers and he rates higher than most left fielders.