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Is Soriano Ready To Play In A REAL Ballpark?

[December 8th] -- Look, I hate to be a spoil-sport. After 34 years without baseball in Washington, there is nothing that the Nationals' management could do that would draw my ire. That said, there is a question that needs to be asked.

Can Alfonso Soriano hit in RFK Stadium?

It's very common for a player's production to drop on the road. Lumpy beds. Long Hours. Jet lag. Often, a player's numbers can be 15-20% lower away from the comfort of home. The Texas Rangers, however, take this disparity to a new level.

And that doesn't bode well for Soriano's stay in D.C.

Two of the Rangers' starters, Gil Mench and Rod Barojas, have home & away splits that are very similar. Mench, for example, hit 13 homers at home and 12 on the road. His batting average was .273 at Arlington Stadium and .254 on the road. The rest of the team, however, seems to get by on a heaping helping of Texas home cooking.

Hank Blalock hit .361 with 20 homers at home, and .231 with only 5 home runs on the road. His on base percent plummeted .85 points on the road. Mark Teixeira hit 30 of his 43 homers at home. His slugging percent was 239 points higher in Arlington. Up and down the lineup, the Rangers were terrors at home and timid on the road.

And then their is Mr. Soriano.

Soriano batted .315 at home, .224 on the road. Only 31% of his homers, and 29% of his RBI's were produced on the road. Soriano's on base percent dropped 90% away from Arlington and his slugging percent was even worse, more than 280 points lower on the road.

What does this mean? I'm not sure I want to think about it right now. A healthy, happy Soriano in his contract year might produce in the .275-28-100 range for the Nationals. Is that good? Sure. Is it worth the nearly $10 million the team will pay him in 2006? No way. I'm guessing that Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel will hit more homers and drive in more runs than Soriano will next season.

This deal might not be complete. Jose Vidro may be on his way out for pitching, or Soriano might be used as trade bait to get players that fit a little better in the Nationals system.

Either way, this was an interesting trade.

Soriano's agent is already being quoted as saying no one contacted him or the player about Soriano's feelings about playing the outfield. What a mess!
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