New York Yankees' Playoff Hopes Hinge On Alfonso Soriano's Thumb

By James O'Hare
Alfonso Soriano
Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

In the first inning of Wednesday’s New York Yankees game against the Toronto Blue Jays, play-by-play man Michael Kay mentioned how Alfonso Soriano doubted his own ability to hit home runs with his injured right thumb. Because Soriano is right-handed, this hurts his top hand when he swings a bat.

Commentator John Flaherty questioned Soriano’s logic, claiming he always thought the power on a swing was generated by the bottom hand. Flaherty is dead wrong, and the proof is in the statistics: Flash hit 80 home runs over a 14-year career. Soriano, currently in his 15th season, has hit 404 home runs.

Soriano correctly implied that the power in a baseball swing is generated by the top hand – really it’s generated by the legs and torque from hip rotation, but the top hand drives the bat through the hitting zone. This is why switch-hitters tend to hit for more power from their natural side (dominant hand on top) and higher average from the opposite side (dominant hand on the bottom).

Regardless of the mechanics, this is a huge concern for the Yankees as they come down the final stretch of the Wild Card race. Since he was acquired from the Chicago Cubs, Soriano has provided much-needed power from the right side of the plate. If he can’t hit for power it, will leave a tremendous void in the middle of the New York lineup.

Alex Rodriguez has been plagued by a strained hamstring and now he has a hurt calf. Entering Wednesday’s game, Rodriguez is one for his last 14 at-bats and he can’t run hard on the bases. Mark Reynolds, their other righty power-bat, has not been much better, getting just two hits in his last 19 at-bats.

The Yankees will need continued production from someone other than Robinson Cano if they want to play in October. The loss of Brett Gardner to a strained oblique threatened to kill the Yankees’ season in 2013. The loss of Soriano (or at least his power) will be the final nail in the coffin.

James O’Hare is a writer for Follow him on Twitter @JimboOHare and add him to your network on Google.

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