When you are playing in the midst of a 8-year, $136 million contract, there is a certain level of expectations that come along for the ride. However, when you’ve consistently missed those marks over the course of the last three seasons, those expectations tend to dwindle away a bit. Those players get slapped with the “bust” tag and they incessantly come up in trade rumors where fans and the media will present any scenario where the team can recoup their costs. And when those deals fail to come up, rumors about faked ages and questions of effort pop-up.
Overall, it is not a fun place to be.
Such has been the life and times of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who signed the aforementioned deal prior to the 2007 season, put together a solid 2007 and 2008, and then sat in fan purgatory as the last three seasons were underwhelming to say the least. And let’s be honest here, Cubs fans would not be faulted in their arguments either. After all, we’re talking about a player who was making $19 million each of the last three years while averaging just a .248 average, .768 OPS, 23 home runs, 74 RBI, and just 5 stolen bases. Equally so, he saw himself put up a WAR of 0.0, 3.2, and 1.4 each of the last three seasons respectively.
That is a far cry from the 40-40 player Soriano was just a year prior to coming to Chicago.
Needless to say, it has not been all peaches and cream for Soriano in the Windy City. However, 2012 saw a different Soriano come to Wrigley Field, a more productive one.
Now in fairness, his numbers are still a far cry down from his glory days in New York, Texas, and Washington, but every comeback has to start somewhere. For Soriano, that started with his first 100 RBI season since 2005, a mark he surpassed on Sunday against Pittsburgh. With just four more on the season, Soriano will set a new career high at 105. With a single home run, Soriano will also add another season of 30 home runs, something he has not accomplished since 2007, his first season in Chicago. Both are welcome sights to Cubs fans that have been wondering if they would ever see that production again.
That is not to say that Soriano is taking the league by storm again. He still strikes out a lot (142 thus far in 2012) and at 36-years-old, he will likely never be the threat on the base paths he once was. However, outside of a miserable April and slump in August, Soriano has been consistent throughout the season, and the uptick in performance gives the Cubs some hope that they can get some semblance of value for the $36 million Soriano still has remaining for the next two seasons.
At the very least, it may provide enough of a baited hook in order for another team to graciously take Soriano off the Cubs hands this winter.