You’d be hard-pressed to find a more polarizing figure in Chicago than Alfonso Soriano.
Soriano hasn’t lived up to his massive contract with the Chicago Cubs, and is a small piece of many reasons that the club has taken such a major step back as an organization.
After an offseason that saw the Theo Epstein Era begin on the North Side, many players were expected to be, and are now, gone. Soriano was expected to be at least mentioned among those names, and, by many accounts, he was.
There were at least attempts to shop him, but to no avail. To the disappointment of many Cubs fans, Soriano opened the season as the Cubs’ starting leftfielder.
But as of right now, that’s looking like something that doesn’t appear to be too terrible. Soriano has come into the season looking like a guy who’s out to prove people wrong, and is trending in the right direction to do just that.
Over the course of the spring, Soriano made the adjustments at the plate that appear to be working early on. He got rid of that patented high leg kick when he swings, and it appears to have helped him. He raked in the spring and is off to a solid start this year.
He’s hitting a touch over .300, with an on-base percentage sitting at .343,though his 10 hits this year have all come on singles. It will be interesting to see if that carries over, though, since Soriano isn’t usually anything that resembles a slow starter. With his newfound ability to make contact, we should see the power numbers start to pick up this season.
But where we’ve seen a big improvement in Soriano, at least thus far, is in the field. Soriano has been a notoriously terrible fielder since he made the move from second base to the outfield, not only misplaying flyballs, but jogging after them when he does.
Though those strikeouts haven’t disappeared, we’ve seen Soriano make at-bats tougher on opposing pitchers, rather than just swinging at the first thing he sees low and away.
That hasn’t been the case this year. Soriano has been very solid in the field, and has even flashed the leather on a couple of occasions, which is something we’re obviously unaccustomed to seeing from him out there.
We’ll have to wait and see if this is just an aberration or if Soriano is really attempting to quiet down his critics and elevate his game, in all phases. Though he’ll never live up to his contract, it would be nice to see him at least turn in a big year for the Cubs, if for nothing else other than to increase his trade value.