The Rise of the Latino Slugger

Powerful Arguments Against Old Stereotypes

Soriano: He learned to run before he learned to walk.
photo: Errol Anderson
Soriano: He learned to run before he learned to walk.

For all his eye-popping numbers, however, let's remember that Soriano is still a 24-year-old with some holes in his offensive game. He seems to swing at everything, and it shows in his whopping 159 projected strikeouts and miniscule 20 projected walks—the worst ratio in baseball for everyday players. Here, the Dominican kid fits an old stereotype of Caribbean players: a free swinger unwilling to draw bases on balls. The K's are not so bad, but the dearth of walks is a problem. He may become the first player in baseball history with 20 fewer walks than HRs, and his walks-to-dingers ratio is now under 50 percent. Consequently, his offensive value is less than conventional numbers suggest. Measured by an advanced method such as Clay Davenport's "equivalent average" (a number that puts all offensive events into context), Soriano is only the third-best-hitting Yankee, behind Jason Giambi and a fellow Latino, Bernie Williams. He leads the team in outs made, but he's only fourth in reaching base. As good as Soriano is, he's still green and has time to improve. If he can learn plate discipline, he could become the best Yankee hitter since the Mick.

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