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Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Soulful Soriano September

Amid accusations of being selfish, lazy, overrated, and overpaid, Alfonso Soriano is quietly carrying the Chicago Cubs through the season's final month. With two homers this afternoon, Soriano has an even dozen with seven September games remaining.

Sure, he refused to relinquish the leadoff spot to Ryan Theriot when he returned from a quadriceps injury which is still clearly affecting his running, but he is demonstrating those skills which give him the hutzpah to make such demands. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a Cubs fan who'd want to change a single thing about Soriano these last couple weeks. He's scored 19 runs and driven in 23 since returning from his injury on August 28th. No, he hasn't stolen a base during that span, assuring that he will fall well short of his third straight 30/30 season, but his production is hard to argue with.

Morover, he seems to have jump-started a Cubs lineup that sputtered at times during his absence. Since August 28, Aramis Ramirez is batting .335 with 8 HR and 21 RBI, Derrek Lee is batting .351, and the Cubs are on pace to have by far their best offensive month at the time when it matters most, something which north-siders certainly aren't accustomed to. All in all, the Cubs are 16-10 since Soriano's return, and perhaps most importantly, 7-2 in 1-run games.

Despite an extended stay on the disabled list, Soriano has accumulated 31 HR this season, has a good chance of scoring 100 runs for the third year in a row and the fifth time in his career, and has his best batting average (.297) since 2002. We'd all like to see those numbers go up in a fully healthy season next year, but down the stretch he's already looking very much like a $100 Million man.

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