The Next Alfonso Soriano
Remember when Alfonso Soriano was a baseball laughing stock? In 2009, his -.2 WAR earned him 16 million when Soriano’s play warranted his cutting a check to the Cubs. Once a top-5 fantasy pick, Soriano was relegated to late round/waiver wire fodder. At some point, his fizzling Major League value trickled over into his fantasy reputation.
In 2012, Soriano was put up for auction in the Ottoneu Experts League. He was bid up to a whopping $2 and the clock started ticking. For $3, I had no choice but to bite in a league with five outfielders and a utility player. Soriano rewarded my minor investment with 32 home runs and 108 runs batted in in a 5×5 format — Good for a $29 return on investment.
A month into 2013, I tried to pawn off a struggling Soriano on an owner who refused to bite. Even I wanted to dump him while the getting was good. I’m glad I didn’t.
On Twitter, I’ve mentioned Soriano-versus-Heyward/Kemp, both poking fun at the struggles of two stars and lauding Soriano’s performance. Currently, Soriano’s 25 home runs, 77 RBI and 12 steals has outpaced Heyward/Kemp’s 16 home runs, 61 RBI and 11 steals.
With Alfonso Soriano experiencing a rebirth, it’s time to identify another albatross whose bloated contract has crushed their Major League and fantasy value. That player is Phillies Ryan Howard. In 317 plate appearances, Howard has a wRC+ of 111 — not quite the Howard of old, but still worth something.
I do worry Howard’s lack of athleticism (Soriano was one of the premier athletes in the game at one point) will be a hindrance, but 34 isn’t ancient. In 2014, Howard will cost less than most prospects in auction drafts and is somebody I’ll target on the cheap. In 5×5 leagues, an owner could do much worse.
2 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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