Friday, March 14, 2008

Just When You Think You've Heard Everything

Yesterday, Alfonso Soriano batted second in a spring training game. He didn't like it. Why? Because he lost the honor of leading off? No. Because the pitcher threw him fewer fastballs? No. Because the chalk of the batter's box was already messed up? No.

It seems he didn't like hitting with someone on base:

"I never batted second in the big leagues, but the first at-bat was with somebody on base," said Soriano, who was 1-for-3. "I didn't feel very comfortable. But it's the first at-bat. I will have to make a couple little adjustments batting second because I never batted second."

Always great to have a 30 home run guy who hates having men on base. Just think of all the RBI opportunities he can avoid!

What's even more fun is the quotes from Ryan Theriot. Now, here's a guy who clearly has no understanding of baseball:

"I've said it a million times: I really don't care where I am (in the lineup). My approach stays the same. To be able to get on base for Sori, who's liable to hit the ball out of the park any time or hit something in the gap and possibly be scoring on that is always good for the team."

It doesn't matter where you hit in the lineup? Poor guy. Doesn't he know that you are supposed to pick a spot where it will be the best for you and not for the team? Getting on base in front of a RBI guy isn't important, but getting your stats and hitting dingers and hopping before a catch is.

The bile rises and rise.

Dave Pinto chimes in with this factoid (courtesy of his Day-By-Day database):

Soriano is ever so slightly worse with a man on first than with the bases empty. So the idea that a man on first bothers him doesn't really hold water. However, I believe most batters do better with a man on first. In the National League in 2007, a man on first added sixteen points to a player's batting average, twelve points to a player's on base average and eighteen points to his slugging percentage.

Here are the actual stats:
None On27978121841316016013203758100000.2900.3310.537
Men On167645198108046912335223828324800.2690.3220.483

Mr. Pinto correctly notes that Soriano loses .021 in his batting average and .054 in his slugging with men on base over his career, regardless of position in the batting order. And that this trend is contrary to what the results are for the average major league player.

This suggests that something else is up with Soriano. It's not sample size that is the problem as Soriano has 1,676 at bats with runners on base. What it suggests is that his concentration is bothered when men are on base.

In other words, if the situation isn't all about him, he's not the same player.

Statistical evidence of selfishness.

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