Bust Alert: Do Not Buy Into Alfonso Soriano’s Name Appeal

Someone’s name value can certainly cause many people to overvalue them.  You think that, based on the name alone, the player should be able to live up to the expectations we have attributed to them in the past.  It doesn’t matter what the player has done in recent years, the name holds value.  It’s engrained in our minds.

It’s a mistake you do not want to make.

A perfect example of this phenomenon as we head into 2011 is Alfonso Soriano.  According to Mock Draft Central he has an ADP of 100.81 and is the 25th outfielder coming off the board.  In comparison, I have him ranked outside the Top 60 in the recent release of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (click here if you are interested in purchasing the guide, which features the Top 90 prospects for 2011, over 550 player projections and much more).

The name is certainly causing many owners to overvalue him and let’s take a look at why I feel that way.

First, his 2010 statistics:

496 At Bats
.258 Batting Average (128 Hits)
24 Home Runs
79 RBI
67 Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.322 On Base Percentage
.496 Slugging Percentage
.295 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Once upon a time he was a threat to put up a 40/40 season, but those days are long behind him.  He has 14 stolen bases, total, over the past two years and has not had more than 20 since he played his only season in Washington (2006).  To think that he could suddenly rediscover that ability, at age 35, would be a huge mistake.  It’s something that is no longer is in his skillset, so we can simply disregard it.

He only reached 100 RBI once in his career.  In fact, his 79 in 2010 is the most he has had in his four seasons as a member of the Cubs.  Granted, that is slightly skewed due to spending time hitting leadoff, but that wasn’t the case in 2010.

After hitting primarily first for his first three seasons in Chicago, he spent the bulk of his time hitting sixth (381 AB) in 2010.  That’s likely where he will be once again in 2011, meaning we can expect him to potentially reach around 80 RBI, but that’s about it.

That also means that his opportunity to score runs is going to be extremely limited.  Considering his OBP and his spot in the lineup, do we really think he can score more than 70 runs?  In 2010 there were 33 outfield eligible players to score at least 80 runs.  There were 49 who scored at least 70 runs.  This fact alone puts Soriano as borderline usable in deeper formats.

Just to make matter worse is his power, which was something that used to help separate him from the rest of the pack, is now average at best.  Over the past three seasons he has averaged around 24 HR a season, really a number that is nothing special for an outfielder.

Is it a decent number?  Yes, it is.  He was actually in the Top 20 among outfielders in home runs in 2010, but there were 33 who hit at least 20.  Now, throw in the fact that there is a risk of regression at play.

In 2010 Soriano set a career high in his fly ball rate, at 54.3%.  Since 2002 his fly ball rate is 47.4%.  Considering his fall in HR/FB in recent years (11.5% and 11.8% over the past two seasons compared to a 14.9% career mark), there is a very good chance he doesn’t replicate the 24 he slugged in 2010.  In fact, would it surprise anyone if he fell short of 20?

Throw in an average that has been less than stellar (.277 for his career but under .260 the past two seasons) and exactly what is it that we are buying into?

Those people who are drafting Alfonso Soriano are doing so based on name value and nothing more.  Do not get caught up in it and waste a pick as early as you seemingly need to in order to get him.  He’s a borderline usable option, even in five-outfielder formats, and much better suited to a reserve role.

What are your thoughts of Soriano?  Is he a player you would want to own?  Where would you be willing to select him on draft day?

**** Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2011 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here. ****

Make sure to check out some of our 2011 projections:

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