When the Yankees traded for Alfonso Soriano back on July 26, they hoped he could provide some right-handed power for a lineup that craved it. In the 21 games leading up to the trade, he’d smacked 10 home runs to go with 21 RBI and a 1.044 OPS. With Soriano swinging the bat so well and few impact bats available leading up to the trade deadline, putting the former Yankee back in pinstripes seemed like a pretty solid move at the time.
A couple of weeks later, the acquisition hardly looked like a winner. Alfonso Soriano stopped hitting the moment he switched teams. In the 15 games immediately following the trade, he batted just .193/.220/.368 while striking out in one third of his at-bats. He was flailing, perhaps trying too hard to be the savior, possibly pressing as he closed in on 2,000 career hits. Somehow, Soriano found a way to be worse than the players he was replacing in Joe Girardi’s lineup card (namely Vernon Wells and Zoilo Almonte). Once again, it seemed the Yankees had whiffed by pinning their hopes on a overpaid, over-the-hill veteran.
But Alfonso Soriano is streaky. For as hot as he was in July, he had one measly home run and two RBI in his first 27 games of the season. So it should come as no surprise that after looking lost at the plate for three weeks, he reversed direction on a dime and got ridiculously hot.
It all started with his historic power binge a few weeks back. On August 13, Soriano led the Yankees to a 14-7 rout of the Los Angeles Angels with two home runs and six RBI. The next night, he smoked two more homers and a double, driving in seven runs to pace another New York victory. In the process, Soriano became one of just three players in big-league history to drive in six or more runs in consecutive games, joining Rusty Greer and Geoff Jenkins (who would’ve guessed those two?). He also became the first Yankee to hit multiple homers in consecutive games since August 2005, when Jason Giambi turned the trick.
Soriano was just getting started. He stroked four hits in the series finale versus the Angels, then continued his assault in Beantown by going 3-for-4 with a home run and four runs batted in. That gave him 18 RBI in four games, tying the MLB record for most RBI in four straight games (previously achieved by Jim Bottomley, Sammy Sosa, and a trio of Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri and Joe DiMaggio). His 13 base knocks in that span made him the only player to ever record 18 RBI and at least a dozen hits in a four-game stretch.
With two singles the following afternoon, Alfonso Soriano completed one of the most impressive displays of hitting anyone could remember. He was named AL Player of the Week for his efforts, hardly a surprise given that his monster week would be a great month for most players.
Since then, Soriano has cooled off a bit but has continued to generate offense. He’s slugged four more home runs — including the 400th of his career — and knocked in nine runs to propel New York back into the playoff race. The Yankees (and fantasy owners) are riding the wave, hoping he can replicate his August barrage with a postseason berth on the line in September.
They shouldn’t count on it, though. They should remember that Alfonso Soriano is streaky.