Just based upon the sort of player Alfonso Soriano has been throughout his illustrious career, it was apparent that when he was no longer useful, it was likely to be a very steep dropoff. Some players, like an Ichiro Suzuki, will go on a slower descent thanks to their game being multi-faceted. Even as Ichiro's average has dipped over the years, his speed and defense have prevented him from being a complete detriment. Soriano, on the other hand, is here to do one thing: hit for power. Once he stops doing that, he literally has nothing else to offer a major league team. And right now, he is doing just that.
Even before his magnum opus of ugliness in his last two games, Soriano was having a real rough go of it. Since the beginning of May, he's put forth a .202/.215/.348 line with just two homers in 93 plate appearances. As a designated hitter, he has been performing worse than several pitchers. Here's Madison Bumgarner's season triple slash: .240/.286/.400, better than Soriano in all regards. With no value in the field or at the plate, Soriano has managed to stand out on a team teeming with underperformers. Even with all that said, I wasn't quite prepared for his last two performances.
On Monday against the Mariners' Felix Hernandez, Soriano struck out three times. In his second at-bat, Hernandez threw the same pitch in the same exact part of the zone three times in a row. Soriano barely tipped the first and feebly waived on the next two. I found it literally difficult to watch, like a blindfolded person waiving at a piñata. The next day, the YES Network almost seemed to take pity on Soriano, pointing out that he had been effective thus far in 2014 (115 wRC+) versus left-handed pitching. Unfortunately, Soriano is mired such a supernatural funk that Scott Kazmir's handedness could not save him. He was totally overmatched and struck out three times again. He seems so intent on speeding his bat up to catch any fastballs that even his nominal ability to lay off pitches outside of the zone has been reduced to absolute nothingness.
My main point here is that beyond the obvious statistical evidence that Soriano should be close to losing his starting job, I don't want to watch him anymore. And I'm assuming many of you feel the same way. Every at-bat is a reason to squint your eyes and try to blur out the awfulness. It makes me wonder if Joe Girardi is looking at Soriano in a similar fashion. He's obviously been inclined to give Soriano the benefit of the doubt because of his career and solid 2013, but just the visual of Soriano waiving at pitches in vain may give him pause from this point on.
I don't know that Soriano is done helping this team, he did have a key hit in today's game, but I think we may be close. We're just about at the point where I'd rather see anybody else out there, and I really do try to prevent myself from getting to that cliched and overused talking point as best I can. So do us all a favor and don't strikeout three times in a game anymore, Alfonso. My eyes can't handle the gruesomeness.