On September 24th, 1999, 23-year old Alfonso Soriano connected on his first career home run off Norm Charlton in the bottom of the eleventh inning, giving the Yankees a walk-off 4-3 victory against the Devil Rays. Nearly 14 years later, he hit career homers 399 and 400 off J.A. Happ as New York won by a score of 7-1 against the Blue Jays. Sori became the 51st member of the 400 home run club.
For a guy who’s listed at 6-foot-1, 195 lbs., such a milestone would seem unreachable. When you look at Soriano, you think of speed more so than power. But what he’s been able to do in 14 seasons is impressive, and it begs the question: will Alfonso Soriano reach the hall-of-fame? He just might.
At age 37 and seemingly defying father-time, Soriano could potentially reach the 500 home-run plateau, especially if he stays in Yankee Stadium for the remainder of his career. But if history is any indication, hitting triple digits in home runs after 37 is a rare feat. For his career however, he’s averaged 27 home runs per season. His production since his injury plagued seasons of 2007 and 2008 have remained steady, even increasing slightly. Usually (for “clean” players) 500 home runs is almost a guaranteed ticket to the HoF. But Soriano has other factors going for him.
Soriano is 15 stolen bases away from 300 for his career, which would make him just the fifth player in MLB history with at least 300 SB’s and 400 home runs, joining the likes of Barry Bonds, Andre Dawson, Alex Rodriguez and Willie Mays – not bad company at all. The combination of power, speed and consistency is rare and makes players who have it that much more special. The fact that Sori’s been able to accomplish such feats during baseball’s steroid era is impressive. There hasn’t been a whisper about PEDs with him.
Dawson, a recent HoF’er, is probably a good comparison to Soriano. Sori will most definitely pass Dawson in home runs (438) and stolen bases (314) before he hangs it up. If you look at games played and stats compiled, what Sori has been able to do should be applauded; Dawson played in 2,627 games, compared to Soriano’s current 1,880 games. Their career slash lines are similar – Dawson: .279/.323/.482 to Soriano’s .272/.321/.504. Dawson however, has over 2,700 hits while Soriano currently has 2,022. Dawson also has a Rookie of the Year award, MVP, eight Gold Gloves and eight All-Star game appearances to his credit.
Soriano is turning back the clock and looking like the guy with seven All-Star game selections and four Silver Slugger awards. If he continues to defy age and history over the next couple of years, we could see Sori end up in Cooperstown.
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