- FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy -

Playing Time and Alfonso Soriano

In 2006 Alfonso Soriano was the third-best fantasy hitter, thanks to a season that included 46 HR and 41 SB. Injuries curtailed his production in both 2007 and 2008, with a fractured left hand causing Soriano to miss 34 games last season. Currently, he has an ADP of 23, as fantasy owners are optimistic he will play a full season and approach the lofty levels he enjoyed back in 2006.

It is doubtful that Soriano will come close to 41 SB. He attempted 25 and 22 steals the past two seasons. And while those numbers would have been higher in a full season, even pro-rated they come up short of the 58 attempts he had in 2006. Soriano remains an excellent percentage base stealer (a fantastic 86 percent success rate in 2008) but at the age of 33 this season, it is likely his 40-steal days are behind him.

However, a return to 40 HR is not out of the question if he can play in 150 games. Soriano hits the necessary number of fly balls; his 48 percent fly ball rate ranked seventh in the majors in 2008. And while his 17.1 percent HR/FB rate was above average, it is in line with what he has done previously. His lifetime HR/FB mark is 15.7 percent.

But none of the four projection systems thinks a 150-game season is on tap for Soriano. Bill James is the most optimistic in regards to playing time, and it forecasts 140 games and 576 at-bats. On the other end of the spectrum, Marcel and Oliver see 465 and 461 at-bats, respectively. Soriano had 647 at-bats in his standout 2006 season.

With the questions about his playing time and how many steals he will likely post, it seems that Soriano is being slightly overvalued in the mock drafts. If you are intent on drafting an outfielder, Carlos Lee and Ichiro Suzuki would be potential replacements, with the latter’s AB-heavy AVG a nice thing to have.